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.

Exterior

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.

Interior

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.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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