Cullen Old Church is the parish church for Cullen and Deskford. John R. Hume describes Cullen Old Church as a fine example of late Scots Gothic architecture, and it was designated a Category A listed building in 1972. It is still an active place of worship, with weekly services presided over by Rev Douglas F Stevenson.
First mentioned in records dating from 1236 that document its elevation to a parish church, it was further elevated to collegiate status in 1543, and underwent a series of extensions, improvements and renovations in the centuries that followed. It is known for being the burial place of the internal organs of Queen Elizabeth de Burgh. After Elizabeth died at Cullen Castle in 1327, her body was taken to Dunfermline for interment, but the organs, which were removed as part of the embalming process, were buried at the church. Her husband, King Robert the Bruce, subsequently established a chaplaincy at the church to offer prayers for her soul.
The church sits within a high-walled churchyard, amongst many ornately carved tombs and memorial slabs. It is a simple, cross-plan church, rubble-built with sandstone and granite ashlar detailing for windows, corner stones and tracery. At the apex of the west gable there is an 18th-century bellcote, its south gable has four tall lancet windows, and there is a point-headed window, featuring intersecting tracery, in the gable at the east end of the nave. Rectangular heraldic plaques celebrate the Ogilvy and Gordon families, in honour of the founder of the college and his wife.
The interior has a cruciform layout, with a narrow nave, and aisles to north and south. A gallery runs above the west end of the nave, and curves round into the north aisle. There are wooden pews throughout, which were installed in the later 19th century. The walls would have been plastered originally, but this was removed in 1967 to allow repointing of the interior walls. The ceiling retains its original plasterwork with polygonal profiling. Against the south wall, the Seafield Loft, a substantial two-storey gallery, dominates the nave. Its panelled front bears heraldic designs and foliage; it is supported by Corinthian columns at either end, and accessed by a flight of stairs at its east end. An ornate sacrament house, donated by Alexander Ogilvy of Findlater, who helped establish the collegiate church, and his wife Elizabeth Gordon, is built into the east end of the north chancel wall.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.