|Denomination||Church of Scotland|
|Previous denomination||Roman Catholic|
|Heritage designation||Category A|
|Years built||7th century|
|Minister(s)||Revd Elspeth McKay|
|Director of music||Dr George McPhee|
Paisley Abbey is a parish church of the Church of Scotland on the east bank of the White Cart Water in the centre of the town of Paisley, Renfrewshire, about 7 miles (11 kilometres) west of Glasgow, in Scotland. Its origins date from the 12th century, based on a former Cluniac monastery. Following the Reformation in the 16th century, it became a Church of Scotland parish kirk.
It is believed that Saint Mirin (or Saint Mirren) founded a community on this site in 7th century. Some time after his death a shrine to the Saint was established, becoming a popular site of pilgrimage and veneration. The name Paisley may derive from the Brythonic (Cumbric) Passeleg, 'basilica' (derived from the Greek), i.e. 'major church', recalling an early, though undocumented, ecclesiastical importance.
In 1163, Walter fitz Alan, the first High Steward of Scotland issued a charter for a priory to be set up on land owned by him in Paisley.It was dedicated to SS. Mary, James, Mirin and Milburga. Around 13 monks came from the Cluniac priory at Much Wenlock in Shropshire to found the community. Paisley grew so rapidly that it was raised to the status of abbey in 1245. Monks from Paisley founded Crossraguel Abbey in Carrick, Ayrshire, in 1244.
In 1307, Edward I of England had the abbey burned down. It was rebuilt later in the 14th century. William Wallace, born in nearby Elderslie, is believed to have been educated in the abbey for some time when he was a boy.
In 1316, Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I of Scotland and wife of Walter Stewart, the sixth High Steward of Scotland, was out riding near the abbey. During the ride, she fell from her horse and as she was heavily pregnant at the time, she was taken to Paisley Abbey for medical care. There, King Robert II was born by caesarean section, in a time when anaesthesia would not have been available. 1 mile (2 kilometres) to the north of the Abbey, marks the spot where she reputedly fell from her horse.She was later buried at the abbey. A cairn, at the junction of Dundonald Road and Renfrew Road, approximately
In 1491, absolution was granted by Abbot George Shaw, representing the Pope and in the presence of the relics, to James IV of Scotland and others implicated in the death of James III at the Battle of Sauchieburn. By 1499 Shaw had had built a new, larger pilgrims' chapel and added the sculptured stone frieze which can still be seen today, showing scenes from the life of St Miren. It was originally brightly painted and may have been part of a rear panel of an altar before being put up as a frieze on the wall.
A succession of fires and the collapse of the tower in the 15th and 16th centuries left the building in a partially ruined state. Although the western section was still used for worship, the eastern section was widely plundered for its stone. From 1858 to 1928 the north porch and the eastern choir were reconstructed on the remains of the ruined walls by the architect Macgregor Chalmers. After his death, work on the choir was completed by Sir Robert Lorimer.
Paisley Abbey is the burial place of all six High Stewards of Scotland, Marjorie Bruce who was the mother of Robert II, and the wives of Robert II and King Robert III. The Celtic Barochan Cross, once sited near the village of Houston, Renfrewshire, is now inside the abbey itself. The cross is thought to date from the 10th century. In the abbey's nave, the Wallace Memorial Window, which depicts the image of Samson, was donated in 1873.
In the early 1990s an ancient vaulted drain of extremely fine construction, probably 13th century in date, was rediscovered running from the abbey to the White Cart. Archaeological investigations and excavations took place in 1996,3–16 September 2009, 2–12 September 2011 and 4 September 2013 and many items discovered. Some of these are now on display in the abbey.
The drain is thought to date from AD 1350-1400 and is at least 90 metres long, up to 2m wide and up to 2.2m high;before accessing it water has to be pumped out. The drain contains stonemasons marks on the walls, and marks where gates used to be. A virtual tour of the drain is available on YouTube.
Events to involve the public in the archaeological investigation of the drain have been held,with the Renfrewshire Local History Forum.
Paisley Abbey Drain is designated by Historic Environment Scotland as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and has similarities to other monastery drains, such as Fountains Abbey, Dundrennan Abbey and Melrose Abbey.
A tomb in the choir incorporating a much-restored female effigy is widely believed to be that of Marjorie Bruce. Although there is no evidence that she is buried at exactly that location, her remains are thought to be within the abbey. The tomb is reconstructed from fragments of different origin - the base, is likely to have originally formed part of the pulpitum of the Abbey (a stone screen separating nave and choir), such as survives at Glasgow Cathedral.
Opposite Marjorie Bruce lie the tombs of Robert III of Scotland and Simon fitz Alan. A Latin inscription commemorates the three children of Margaret Seton and Claud Hamilton, 1st Lord Paisley who died as infants; Margaret (1577), Henry (1585), and Alexander (1587).
Stained glass (removed in the Reformation) began to be replaced in the 1870s. Major works include a window by Edward Burne-Jones and the huge east window by Douglas Strachan.
The dramatic memorial window to James D. D. Shaw dates from 1989 and is by John Clark.
The Abbey organ is reputedly one of the finest in Scotland, and was originally built by the most distinguished of all 19th-century organ builders, Cavaillé-Coll of Paris in 1872. This is one of only six in the UK. ft contre bombarde. The latter was part of the 1968 scheme by Ralph Downes but not included in the work actually undertaken.Since 1872 it has been rebuilt and extended four times. The organ as rebuilt by Walkers in 1968 has 4 manuals, 65 stops and 5448 pipes.(National Pipe Organ Register; "The Organ at Paisley Abbey", booklet pub. Paisley Abbey) In 2009 the instrument underwent a major restoration by Harrison and Harrison of Durham. The work included major cleaning and servicing, the provision of a new wind system and the addition of a 32
The twelve angel corbels and stone communion table are by Pilkington Jackson, sculptor of the iconic Robert the Bruce statue at Bannockburn. The ceiling bosses are designed by Sir Robert Lorimer and carved by James A Young. The choir stalls, with their wealth of carved animals are by William and Alexander Clow.
Paisley Abbey has been rebuilt and its original design modified as a result of the building being destroyed in 1307, its tower's collapse in the 16th century, and general disrepair that occurred as the result of time and weather.Notably, during a restoration project that took place in the 1990s, a stonemason from Edinburgh hired to replace twelve crumbling stone gargoyles erected one bearing a strong resemblance to the space creature from the 1979 science fiction film Alien , starring Sigourney Weaver. A picture of the gargoyle went viral in 2013, though a photograph of the statue first surfaced on the internet in 1997. In 2002, it was confirmed the abbey would be subject to a 10-year-long restoration project.
Paisley Abbey is used for worship services every Sunday. Since the Reformation the Abbey has served as a parish church in the Church of Scotland. In 2002 the congregation had 823 members. The minister (since 2021) is the Reverend Elspeth McKay.[ citation needed ]
The House of Stuart, originally Stewart, was a royal house of Scotland, England, Ireland and later Great Britain. The family name comes from the office of High Steward of Scotland, which had been held by the family progenitor Walter fitz Alan. The name Stewart and variations had become established as a family name by the time of his grandson Walter Stewart. The first monarch of the Stewart line was Robert II, whose male-line descendants were kings and queens in Scotland from 1371, and of England and Great Britain from 1603, until 1714. Mary, Queen of Scots, was brought up in France where she adopted the French spelling of the name Stuart.
Paisley is a large town situated in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. Located north of the Gleniffer Braes, the town borders the city of Glasgow to the east, and straddles the banks of the White Cart Water, a tributary of the River Clyde.
Marjorie Bruce or Marjorie de Brus was the eldest daughter of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, and the only child born of his first marriage with Isabella of Mar.
Walter Stewart was the 6th Hereditary High Steward of Scotland and was the father of King Robert II of Scotland, the first Stewart monarch.
Prince and Great Steward of Scotland are two of the titles of the heir apparent to the throne of the United Kingdom. The current holder of these titles is Prince Charles, who bears the other Scottish titles of Duke of Rothesay, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Carrick, Lord of the Isles and Baron of Renfrew, and is known outside Scotland as the Prince of Wales.
The title of High Steward or Great Steward is that of an officer who controls the domestic affairs of a royal household. In the 12th century King David I of Scotland gave the title to Walter fitz Alan, a nobleman from Brittany, whose descendants adopted the surname "Steward", later "Stewart" and later founded the royal House of Stewart. A junior branch of the Stewart family descended from the younger son of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland (d.1283), namely "Stewart of Darnley", paternal ancestors of King James I & VI, lived for several generations in France, when the name became spelt in the French manner "Stuart" and "Dernelé". In 1371 Robert Stewart, 7th High Steward of Scotland inherited the throne of Scotland via his mother and became King Robert II of Scotland, when the title or office of High Steward of Scotland merged into the crown. However it was re-granted by the monarch to his elder son and heir apparent, together with the titles Duke of Rothesay, Baron of Renfrew, Earl of Carrick and Lord of the Isles. Thus, currently, The Prince of Wales is High Steward of Scotland, sometimes known as the Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.
Renfrewshire or the County of Renfrew is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. It contains the local government council areas of Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, as well as parts of Glasgow and is occasionally named Greater Renfrewshire to distinguish the county from the modern council area.
The Clan Hamilton, or House of Hamilton, is a Scottish clan of the Scottish Lowlands.
Alan fitz Walter was hereditary High Steward of Scotland and a crusader.
Strathgryffe or Gryffe Valley is a strath centred on the River Gryffe in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. The River Gryffe passes through the council areas of Inverclyde and Renfrewshire, rising in Kilmacolm and joining the Black Cart Water between Houston and Inchinnan.
Clan Stewart is a Scottish Highland and Lowland clan. The clan is recognised by Court of the Lord Lyon; however, it does not have a Clan Chief recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. Because the clan has no chief it can be considered an armigerous clan; however, the Earls of Galloway are now considered to be the principal branch of this clan, and the crest and motto of The Earls of Galloway's arms are used in the Clan Stewart crest badge. The Court of the Lord Lyon recognises two other Stewart/Stuart clans, Clan Stuart of Bute and Clan Stewart of Appin. Clan Stuart of Bute is the only one of the three clans at present which has a recognised chief.
Walter Bailloch, also known as Walter Bailloch Stewart, was distinguished by the sobriquet Bailloch or Balloch, a Gaelic nickname roughly translated as "the freckled". He was the Earl of Menteith jure uxoris.
Sir Walter fitz Gilbert of Cadzow, 1st Laird (Lord) of Cadzow was a Scottish nobleman. The son of Gilbert fitz William of Hameldone, and husband to Mary Gordon of Huntly. The marriage date is 1308 in Cadzcow, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He is the first historically confirmed progenitor of the House of Hamilton, which includes the Dukes of Hamilton, Dukes of Abercorn and Earls of Haddington.
Elizabeth Mure, a member of Clan Muir, was the first wife of Robert, High Steward of Scotland, and Guardian of Scotland, who later became King Robert II of Scotland.
Clan Pollock is an armigerous Scottish clan whose origin lies in a grant of land on the southern bank of the River Clyde, courtesy of King David I, to the sons of Fulbert from Walter fitz Alan, the 1st High Steward of Scotland, in the 12th century. It is among the oldest recorded surnames in Scotland. The clan is a sept of Clan Maxwell.
Renfrew Castle was situated at the royal burgh of Renfrew, Scotland, which is near the confluence of the River Clyde and the River Cart. The original 12th-century castle was built by Walter fitz Alan, Steward of Scotland, upon a river islet known as the King's Inch. This was replaced in the 13th century with a new castle by the road to the Clyde ferry, which became a royal castle under King Robert II. In the 15th century, the King's Inch site was rebuilt as Inch Castle by Sir John Ross. Both castles were demolished in the 18th century and nothing remains above ground at either site.
The Bute Mazer, also known as the Bannatyne Mazer is a medieval communal feasting cup of a type known as a mazer. The wood bowl and the elaborate silver-gilt "boss" in the centre are dated "fairly firmly" to between 1314 and 1327 from the heraldry, with the rim and cover about 1500. It is the oldest Scottish mazer still surviving, and one of the oldest and most elaborate British ones. The cup has long been associated with the Isle of Bute, on the west coast of Scotland. Its alternative name derives from Ninian Bannatyne, Laird of Kames, who owned the cup in the 16th century and had his name engraved on the rim. The mazer is now on loan from the Bannatyne family to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Renfrew is a town 6 miles (10 km) west of Glasgow in the west central Lowlands of Scotland. It is the historic county town of Renfrewshire. Called the "Cradle of the Royal Stewarts" for its early link with Scotland's former royal house, Renfrew gained royal burgh status in 1397.
Blackhall Manor is a tower house near Paisley in Renfrewshire, in the western central Lowlands of Scotland. It dates to the sixteenth century, although parts may be older, and formerly belonged to the Stewart or Shaw-Stewart family. It was designated as a Category B listed building in 1971.
King's Inch and the much smaller Sand Inch were islands lying in the estuarine waters of the River Clyde close to Renfrew in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Due to dredging and a change of the course of the main current of the River Clyde, silting, etc. it has become part of the southern, Renfrewshire side, of the river bank and is now built over.