Historical Recollections from Monifieth Almanac 1914

St Brides Church Monifieth

“At a special meeting of the above congregation the very Rev. Canon McDonald gave an interesting resume of the history of the Church, from which the following extracts were made :-

The archaeological and ecclesiastical history of Monifieth was quite one of the most interesting in Scotland.  There were few places in the country with so many landmarks and distinct evidences of early Christian effort.  The Parish Church of Monifieth stands on almost the same ground as the early Catholic Church.

Pre Reformation Church

Pre Reformation Church

A building near Ardestie brae has a stone bearing the letters I.H.S., another with the letters I.N.R.L., showing the pierced heart and nails.

Before the Reformation there were several Catholic Churches in the district. There was St Regulus, founded by the Culdee Monks, who were here to evangelise and civilise the natives. The  `old mill` at Balmossie was built with stones from a former Catholic Church.  A Church stood on the main road between the Ferry and Monifieth, another was built at Kingennie, and tradition had it that on the sands at Monifieth, known as the Lady Bank, stood a chapel dedicated to Our Blessed Lady.

The Reformation came, the Churches mentioned fell into disuse, and finally ruin.

For centuries the Catholic history of Monifieth was non-existant, and hardly a Catholic was known in or about the place. In 1884 Father Clapperton , of Dundee, discovered that there was a body of devoted Catholics in the district and made arrangements to attend their Spiritual needs. Father Clapperton said the first Mass, since the Reformation in one of the mill houses— the first Mass for over 320 years.  Later on, progress having been made, the railway station hall, or as some knew it, The Volunteer Hall, (now the coal depot *), was rented for Mass once a week, and a service during the week. This order was continued for ten years, and the district served from Dundee. In 1892 he was appointed to take charge of Monifieth, and he attended to it from Arbroath. They afterwards acquired the exclusive use of the hall for a rent of £6 per year.  The altar was a board  resting on two trestles. There was no crucifix, and the candlesticks were given from a kitchen mantelpiece.  The six large candlesticks  now   on the present altar were purchased in a peculiar manner. In 1894 Sir John Rigby was a Parliamentary Candidate and hired the Church Hall for Political purposes. He paid £3 6s for the privilege, and with that money the candlesticks were purchased.   On the present building which was the Mechanics Institute, he often cast longing eyes, and when it was for offered for sale in 1898, it was secured as a Catholic edifice for £430, including houses adjoining the building.  The sum of £180 was raised to meet the expense, and when the Church was opened on 12th July 1898, there was only a debt of £250. Of the money collected over £25 was contributed by Protestants in the place, thus showing the broad mindedness of  the people.  In June of 1899 the first resident priest –Canon Dowling- was appointed, after whom came Father Stuart.  Neither remained long as they were called to other spheres of duty.  The active propaganda work was left in abeyance for a time.  Now their resident pastor, Canon Welsh, who has charge of Broughty Ferry also.  What a wonderful change had taken place in the Church since he first knew it, long years ago.  In fact it was difficult for him  to recognise him at all, so many alterations and improvements had been effected.  He described the poor and crude furnishings of twenty years ago, and made contrast with the rich appurtenances, artistic effect, splendid equipment and furnishings of the present day.  The improvements were a credit to their pastor and compliment to the congregation.  Canon McDonald then went on to describe the conditions under which the people lived, when he was in touch with the place.  They had poor wages, and were, to a great extent under the heel of the employers of labour.  The people had no chance to raise their social status and although they were not all that he desired them to be in a spiritual sense, still he had a lurking sympathy for their weakness considering their  hardships and tribulations.

*The Monifieth Community Cabin is sited on the former coal depot.

Prior to becoming the Mechanics Institute the building was used as the Erskine School.

2 responses to “Historical Recollections from Monifieth Almanac 1914

  1. Nice Blog, thanks for sharing this kind of information.

  2. Nice Blog, thanks for sharing this kind of information.

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