Brief History

                 Abbey Church of Scotland North Berwick

 

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                   


The church in which we meet today was built in 1868, in the pointed Gothic style. 
Little is known about the origin of the church, but we do know that a Praying Society was in existence as far back as 1769 and in 1778 a Meeting House was built on the site of the present-day Westgate Gallery.
In 1782, this small fellowship became an Associate Congregation of the United Secession Church which had previously broken away from the Established Church of Scotland. It was known as the Church of the Martyrs. In 1847, the U.S.C. joined with the Relief Church to form the United Presbyterian Church and in 1900 united with the Free Church to become the United Free Church. This is when it adopted the title of Abbey Church, possibly because it is built on North Berwick Abbey Lands.
In 1929 the United Free Church re-united with the Established Church to form the present Church of Scotland.
We have at present a congregation of around 350 in good heart, eager to carry on the Lord's work in the same spirit as all those before us who have made Abbey Church a fellowship of believers with Christ central to our activities.
Interesting Features
We welcome you as a visitor to our church Online. Enjoy this brief guide to interesting features in the building which was built in 1868.

The small window over the main door with the symbol of the Burning Bush and the motto "Nec tamen consumebatur" ("And yet it was not consumed" - the motto of the Church of Scotland) was installed at the same time as the memorial windows in the balcony (1954).                          

Before entering the sanctuary through the inner glass doors, on the left there is a memorial to Rev. William Calvert, minister at the time of the building of the church and the manse and a driving force behind the expansion. The Latin inscription reads "If you seek his monument, look about you".

To the right is a memorial with a grateful inscription to the Rev. George Brown, 1807-1843, the longest serving minister of this congregation.
Also to the right is a third memorial-to Benjamin Hall Blyth, Edinburgh, a noted civil engineer. His significant gift finally persuaded the Board of Managers to take the decision to build a sorely needed new church.

On the stairs
Halfway up the stairs to the balcony, on both sides, are memorial windows dedicated to members of the Whitecross family. Mr. Peter Whitecross, the oldest member of the congregation, laid the foundation stone on 13th January 1868.

Within the Church
To the left once through the inner glass doors there is a memorial plaque on the back wall remembering those members of the congragation who lost their lives in the First World War.
The large tri-part, traceried window behind the pulpit was presented by the Dall family, in memory of Mr. James Dall, who was connected with the church for 60 years.

On either side of the pulpit you see two circular cusped windows presented by members of the congregation: that to the right, by Mr. John Whitecross, in memory of his father, Peter, and to the left, by Mr. John Fraser, the Preses, in memory of Miss Fraser who was responsible for the building of the Fisherman's Hall (The building beside the Yacht Club. It is now a private residence.)

Beneath this window is a brass plaque which remembers those who lost their lives in the 2nd World War. This plaque was an inscription on an older communion table and was placed here when the church was redecorated in 2002.

The communion table came from Lothian Road Church, Edinburgh, hence the dedication on the brass plate. It was brought to Abbey by the Rev. James Lees when he was called to the charge in 1975. He had been the last minister of Lothian Road prior to its closure.
To the left the unusual window of doves on the West Wall was designed by Sax Shaw (1916-2000), noted for his stained glass work and other artistic achievements, in memory of the Rev. John Robertson, minister from 1886-1903, and his niece, Ada. It was installed in 1973 and was designed for easy removal if the need arose.

The Scovell Pipe Organ was installed in 1912 and was in use until 1976, when a Livingston Electronic Organ was installed. The plaque of dedication is on the north wall of the church near the organ. This has since been replaced by an Allen Electronic Organ installed in 1993 as part of the 125th Anniversary of the church.

Turn now so that your back is to the pulpit. In 1954, the windows in the south wall of the church at the back of the balcony, were dedicated to the Rev. Robert Small, minister from 1903-1937. He was the father of Leonard Small, a Moderator of the Church of Scotland. In the smallest windows are a wheatsheaf and a bunch of grapes, representing the bread of life and the wine of Communion. Next, on the left is the ship of the Church, set in an anchor of hope, and on the right is the Lamb of God, holding the pennant, the symbol of victory. Finally, in the middle are the Cross and the Crown of the Covenant, which are central to our Christian Faith. These windows can be seen in greater detail from the Balcony.

Abbey Church of Scotland 116 High Street, North Berwick, EH39 4HE
  email: abbeychurch@btconnect.com  01620 892800