A Short Tour of the Church

The present church is substantially that erected in 1770. It was built over the place where the nave of the medieval church once stood. Fortunately, the ancient chancel survived the Georgian builders, probably because it had already been appropriated by the Hepburns as their family burial place.
The Medieval Church 13th Century Chancel

Projecting from the east wall of the Georgian church is a considerable fragment of the medieval chancel - 'by far the most worthwhile piece of C13 church architecture in Lothian', according to Colin MacWilliam in The Buildings of Scotland : Lothian (1978). The flavour is early Gothic architecture at its purest, with three tall, slender lancet windows separated by narrow chamfered buttresses in the east wall, and shorter single lancets in the south wall. Its north wall was built in 1818 when the Smeaton-Hepburns remodelled their burial vault. At the same time, the upper part of the chancel was floored and converted into a 'laird's loft', complete with homely fireplace, where the family could gather in privacy before and after Divine Worship.
13th Century Chancel
Plan of Prestonkirk

The Bell-Tower 17th Century Bell-Tower and 18th Century Kirk

The square bell-tower attached to the west of the Georgian church was built in the seventeenth century. The bell itself was made in 1631, but was recast in 1846 by the firm of Thomas Mears, of Whitechapel in London.

The Georgian Kirk
The main body of the church is largely that built in 1770, though it too has been greatly altered down the years. This Georgian kirk originally had timber galleries around three sides of the interior with the minister's pulpit centrally placed along the south wall. There were box-pews providing seating for 600 souls.

The rising population of the 'toun' of Linton, however, soon called for an enlargement of the kirk. In 1824, the north wall was taken down and rebuilt 10 feet (3m) further north and the number of seats increased to 800. Signs of that extension can be seen on the east and west outside walls.

17th Century Bell-Tower
and 18th Century Kirk

The Victorian Alterations
In 1891-2, a major refurbishment was undertaken to designs by the architect James Jerden. The galleries were taken out, except that on the east which linked directly with the Smeaton-Hepburn loft, and all the box-pews were done away with. New tall windows replaced the old double-row arrangement, though the round-headed form was retained. Internally, Jerden concentrated the interest at the west end with an arcaded Renaissance screen, one half housing the organ (by H.S.Vincent of Sunderland), the other opening into the new vestry. The pulpit was placed in the centre, which was originally accessed from a door at the rear; the present forestair was added later.

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Text © Chris Tabraham, formerly Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Historic Scotland

Page last updated 28th May, 2012
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