St. Michael's Parish Church is one of the largest burgh churches in the Church of Scotland. King David I of Scotland granted a charter for the establishment of the church in 1138. The church was built on the site of an older church and was consecrated in 1242. Following a fire in 1424, most of the present building dates from the mid-15th century, with extensive restorations in the 19th century. Parts of the Church of St Michael were brought into use as they were completed, and the church was completed in 1540.
Built immediately to the south of Linlithgow Palace, the church was much favoured as a place of worship by Scottish Kings and Queens. Mary, Queen of Scots, was born in Linlithgow Palace on 8 December 1542 and was baptised in St Michael’s Church.
In 1559, at an early stage of the Scottish Reformation, the Protestant Lords of the Congregation destroyed the statues adorning the exterior and interior of the church as signs of 'popishness', and defaced the statue of St Michael which formed part of the structure.
Following the Reformation, the interior of the church was reordered. Some traces of pre-Reformation artefacts can still be detected. In 1646, Oliver Cromwell's troops stabled their horses within the nave. Following the departure of the troops, considerable restoration was required.
By the early 19th century the church was in a very poor physical condition. Although repairs were made, many of the historic features of the church were destroyed, the interior walls were whitewashed, a plaster ceiling replaced a fine 16th-century one and in 1821 the stone Crown Tower (a crown steeple similar to that of St Giles' Cathedral) had to be dismantled.
While other repairs were completed and the church was rededicated in 1896, the tower was too weakened for restoration of the original crown steeple.
By the late 19th century tastes had changed radically, with the installation of the church's first post-Reformation stained glass windows. In 1964, an aluminium crown was installed.References:
The Aberlemno Sculptured Stones are a series of five Class I and II Early Medieval standing stones found in and around the village of Aberlemno. The stones with Pictish carvings variously date between about AD 500 and 800.
Aberlemno 1, 3 and 5 are located in recesses in the dry stone wall at the side of the road in Aberlemno. Aberlemno 2 is found in the Kirkyard, 300 yards south of the roadside stones. In recent years, bids have been made to move the stones to an indoor location to protect them from weathering, but this has met with local resistance and the stones are currently covered in the winter.
Aberlemno 4, the Flemington Farm Stone was found 30 yards from the church, and is now on display in the McManus Galleries, Dundee.