Humbie Parish Church
Humbie Parish Church is a church in the small village of Humbie
Humbie is a hamlet and rural parish in East Lothian, Scotland. It lies in the south-west of the county, approximately 10 miles south-west of Haddington and 15 miles south-east of Edinburgh. Humbie as we know it today was formed as the result of the union between Keith Marischal and Keith Hundeby in...

, East Lothian
East Lothian
East Lothian is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland, and a lieutenancy Area. It borders the City of Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Midlothian. Its administrative centre is Haddington, although its largest town is Musselburgh....

, Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. It is part of the Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....

, and is a linked charge which joins the parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

es of Bolton
Bolton, East Lothian
Bolton is a hamlet and the third smallest parish in East Lothian, Scotland. It lies approximately south of Haddington and east of Edinburgh, and is an entirely agricultural parish, long by about wide...

 & Saltoun
East Saltoun and West Saltoun
East Saltoun and West Saltoun are separate villages in East Lothian, Scotland, about 5 miles south-west of Haddington and 20 miles east of Edinburgh.- Geography :...

, Yester
Gifford, East Lothian
Gifford is a village in the parish of Yester in East Lothian, Scotland. It lies approximately 4 miles south of Haddington and 25 miles east of Edinburgh.-History:...

 and Humbie.

The church lies to the north of the main village, set apart at the bottom of a small valley.


A church stood on this site prior to the Scottish Reformation
Scottish Reformation
The Scottish Reformation was Scotland's formal break with the Papacy in 1560, and the events surrounding this. It was part of the wider European Protestant Reformation; and in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the re-establishment of the church along Reformed lines, and politically in...

. The pre-Reformation parishes of Keith Symons and Keith Hundeby were combined in 1618 to form the combined parishes of Keith and Humbie.

At the time of the Scottish Disruption in 1843
Disruption of 1843
The Disruption of 1843 was a schism within the established Church of Scotland, in which 450 ministers of the Church broke away, over the issue of the Church's relationship with the State, to form the Free Church of Scotland...

, the minister led the congregation out of the church to worship in the open, rather than accept the principle of Patronage (whereby a congregation could not choose its own minister, but was forced to accept the patronage of the local Laird
A Laird is a member of the gentry and is a heritable title in Scotland. In the non-peerage table of precedence, a Laird ranks below a Baron and above an Esquire.-Etymology:...

). The church went through successive church unions to belong in turn to the Free Church of Scotland, United Free Church
United Free Church of Scotland
The United Free Church of Scotland is a Scottish Presbyterian denomination formed in 1900 by the union of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland...

 before coming back into the Church of Scotland in 1929.

Architecture and design

The present building dates to 1800. The original church was typically 'T' shaped, and south-facing. Alterations were made in 1866 by David Bryce
David Bryce
David Bryce FRSE FRIBA RSA was a Scottish architect. Born in Edinburgh, he was educated at the Royal High School and joined the office of architect William Burn in 1825, aged 22. By 1841, Bryce had risen to be Burn's partner...

, and in 1932 a chancel
In church architecture, the chancel is the space around the altar in the sanctuary at the liturgical east end of a traditional Christian church building...

 was added. At this time the church interior was re-orientated to match liturgical east with geographical east.

In 1950 the original plain-glass east window was replaced with a design by Douglas Strachan
Douglas Strachan
Dr. Douglas Strachan was considered the most significant Scottish designer of stained glass windows in the 20th Century. Schooled at Robert Gordon's, he studied art at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen, at the Life School of the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, and the Royal Academy in London...

, illustrating scenes from the life of King David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

. Strachan is notable for designing the glass for the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear...


The church is surrounded by an ancient graveyard
A graveyard is any place set aside for long-term burial of the dead, with or without monuments such as headstones...

, still in use today, and described as resassuring a place to be buried as you could wish for...deep in the woods with the burn [river] besides. Some of the still legible gravestones show dates from as early as the 17th century.

In the churchyard is a small building, known as the Broun Aisle, which was built by a local family as their personal burial space in 1844. The Broun family were originally buried inside the church itself, but as a plaque on the building states, this aisle was erected in lieu of the burial place within the church, which, in deference to the parishioners' feelings, has now closed. The aisle itself is now closed, and is used for storage.


At one time a Precentor
A precentor is a person who helps facilitate worship. The details vary depending on the religion, denomination, and era in question. The Latin derivation is "præcentor", from cantor, meaning "the one who sings before" ....

 led the singing in the church from a stall beside the pulpit, until, in 1906, an harmonium
A harmonium is a free-standing keyboard instrument similar to a reed organ. Sound is produced by air being blown through sets of free reeds, resulting in a sound similar to that of an accordion...

 was introduced. Today, the music is led by a small one-manual pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

, which came from the Norwegian Seamen's Church
Leith School of Art
Leith School of Art is an independent art college in Edinburgh, Scotland, providing tertiary education in art and design. LSA is located in the Leith area of Edinburgh, in the former converted Norwegian Seamen's Church, originally built by Scottish architect James Simpson and Danish architect...

 in Leith
-South Leith v. North Leith:Up until the late 16th century Leith , comprised two separate towns on either side of the river....

, Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 in 1987.

Notable burials in the Churchyard

  • Sir Robert Hogg Matthew
    Robert Matthew
    Sir Robert Hogg Matthew, OBE, FRIBA was a Scottish architect and a leading proponent of modernism.- Early life & studies :Robert Matthew was the son of John Matthew . He was born and brought up in Edinburgh, and attended the Edinburgh College of Art.- Career :Robert was apprenticed with his...

    (1906-1905), leading 20thc.Modernist architect.

External links

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