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£2m Repairs to Historic Church

Wednesday January 20

Bothwell Parish Church. Picture by Iain Thompson, Creative Commons license.


The congregation of a historic South Lanarkshire church is celebrating a major milestone on the road to restoration of the oldest part of the building.

Bothwell Parish Church has raised £2 million towards the preservation of its 600-year-old Quire.

Among the donations is one of £600,000 from the local businessman and philanthropist Les Hutchison, and his wife Virginia.

A long-standing member of the congregation, Mr Hutchison said: “My wife and I are committed to giving back and helping others in many areas of the world. We see Bothwell Parish Church as being a pillar of not just the village, but a source of pride for the local community.”

He added that the donation was dedicated to his late brother-in-law, Colin McMurdo, who was an Elder of the church for many years.

The minister at Bothwell, the Rev James Gibson, said: “The church and the community would like to sincerely thank Les and Virginia Hutchison, as well as several local businesses, who made the restoration of the magnificent Quire of Bothwell Parish Church possible. That section of the church would have had to have been sealed off for safety reasons and simply left to decay. I am utterly delighted our fundraising appeal has been so successful and secured the future of the church for generations to come.”

The Quire, the oldest surviving part of the church, was built by by Archibald Douglas “The Grim”, who became Third Earl of Douglas in 1389. The church was a Collegiate Church – meaning that a ‘collegion’ or ‘corporation’ of priests would celebrate mass continuously for the benefit of the souls of Douglas, his family and anyone else he might name. It is the oldest collegiate church in Scotland still used for weekly worship.

The Quire, which contains historically significant memorials and stained glass, was endangered as the heavy stone roof slates put pressure on the walls and foundations. The damage became apparent following the winter of 2012, and an appeal was launched the following summer. The work is expected to be finished by this Easter, with the rededication and reopening of the Quire to take place in the summer.

Mr Gibson added: “The congregation has thrown itself behind our fundraising activities, while our youth organisations have also become involved, with 1st Bothwell Boys’ Brigade undertaking a sponsored static cycle covering the equivalent of the distance between Bothwell and London.

“The Kirk Session, Session Clerk and I are deeply indebted to everyone who has contributed to the restoration of the Quire. Such investment will secure the future of ‘the Cathedral of Lanarkshire’ for generations to come, ensuring what is arguably one of the most ancient, historic and beautiful churches in Scotland, if not the entire United Kingdom, remains a complete and active parish church.”


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