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Bothwell Parish Church

Bothwell Parish Church is the oldest Collegiate Church in Scotland in which worship is still held and is locally known as the “Cathedral of Lanarkshire” . It is one of the most ancient, historic, beautiful and worshipful church buildings in Scotland. The Church stands at the heart of the community. The building has evolved over centuries. Standing on the site of a former 6th century church dedicated to St Mary and subsequently associated with St Bride, it retains a medieval Quire within the chancel. Adding to a previous Norman structure, this section was built by Archibald Douglas “The Grim”, who became Third Earl of Douglas in 1389.

It was to be the main part of the new “Collegiate Church” that Bothwell Parish Church became, by permission of Pope Benedict XIII. This meant that a “Collegion” or “Corporation of priests, numbering six (though Archbald “The Grim” managed to have it increased to eight) would celebrate mass continuously for the benefit of the souls of Archibald Douglas, his family and any other whom he might name, to shorten their time in Purgatory. The Collegiate Church of Bothwell was dedicated on October 10, 1398, two years before Archibald Douglas died. Alterations to the Nave in 1719 and 1833 (as designed by David Hamilton) were followed by restoration to the Quire in 1898 and further alterations in 1933. The current building contains stained glass windows by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Gordon Webster, Douglas Strachan and beautiful embroideries – “The Bothwell Embroideries”.

The elegance of the long aisle combined with the ancient intimacy of the choir are amongst the reasons why the church is a popular venue for both large society weddings and more private services.  In the north transept can be found a stained glass window magnificent in its detail and symbolism.  It was designed and executed by Douglas Strachan LL.D of Edinburgh in 1936. Its theme is Thanksgiving. The window abounds in agricultural and pastoral scenes, as might be expected from one which commemorates a family of agriculturalists, such as the Gilchrist family. Painted along the foot of the window is the record “To the Glory of God.  Erected by Marion Gilchrist in memory of  her father William Gilchrist and her mother Margaret Williamson, her brothers, John William and Douglas, and her sister Agnes. The Gilchrists were a remarkable family.  

The father, William, was a prosperous farmer who farmed Bothwell Park with considerable success, while the sons all became pioneers in their different ways in applying science to farming. John was appointed assistant professor of Agriculture at Glasgow Technical College in 1892, and president of the Scottish branch of the Surveyors’ Institute in 1927.  As an expert valuator, he was also, for many years, agricultural adviser and manager to H.R.H the Princess Louise, Duchess of  Argyll in respect of her Rosneath estates.Douglas was, in succession, professor of  agriculture at the University College of North Wales, Bangor;  then at University College, Reading; and finally at Armstrong College, Newcastle –on-Tyne(1902)The actual donor of the window, Dr Marion Gilchrist, was herself a pioneer of  a slightly different kind, as she became the first woman to qualify in Medicine from a Scottish University, graduating  MB.Ch B. at Glasgow in 1894.

Work by designer of this window, Dr Douglas Strachan can be seen in St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Guildhall, London; a series of windows by him were also Britain’s gift to the Palace of Peace in the Hague, Holland. Nearer  home, Dr Strachan provided the stained glass in the Scottish National Shrine in Edinburgh Castle. (Courtesy of Bothwell Parish Church)

(Church Website)

Ref: DP350

Gallery: Buildings

Bothwell Parish Church


South Lanarkshire.


United Kingdom

Church Website

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