The Presbytery of Stirling with the overwhelming support of all members, and the congregations of Viewfield and the Holy Rude now eagerly embarks on a new linkage between VIEWFIELD ERSKINE CHURCH and CHURCH OF THE HOLY RUDE.
The original Viewfield meeting
house had been built in 1752. The cost of the building was not
known, but a debt of £200 had been incurred. It could seat
522 persons. In 1860 a new church, which is the present building,
was opened with a similar capacity.
As with most
churches of the time, Viewfield rented out the pews. About
two-thirds of those available
for let were in fact taken. In Viewfield 88 pews were set aside
for the poor. The rates charged for
the pews ranged from 5/- to 11/-; compared to other churches, the
majority in Viewfield were let relatively cheaply, but the sum of
£130 a year provided from this source made it the
congregation's biggest single source of revenue. Ordinary
collections in Viewfield amounted to about £56 a year and
together with seat rents formed the basis of the minister's stipend.
There were no manses provided for the
ministers, nor was there any assistance from local or national taxes
to Secession congregations. After paying
the stipend there was only a small amount left for items like
repairs, and the salaries of the church officer
and precentor. While Viewfield had no great liabilities
outstanding, it is clear that it operated within close financial
limits, and had a fairly constant struggle to maintain financial
of worship and pastoral care was not dissimilar to that of most
churches of the time. There
were two services each Sunday with an evening service in alternate
weeks. Classes were held for young people and hi Viewfield
attracted between 40 and 60 persons. There was a library of about
400 volumes. There were a number of prayer meetings, a particular
feature of the Secession churches. A report
of the Royal Commission on Religious Instruction suggests that in
the late 1830's they were working quietly but effectively within
their own bounds.
During the rest of the nineteenth
century the Secession churches of Stirling changed their
denomination twice more. In 1847 the United Secession Church joined
with the Relief Church to form the United Presbyterians. This line
of development kept Erskine and Viewfield out of the most famous
split hi Scottish church history, the Disruption of 1823 which
produced the breakaway of the Free Church from the Established Kirk.
By 1900, however, the United Presbyterians and the Free Church of
Scotland had united under the name of the United Free Church of
At this time
Viewfield Church was in a poor state. Since 1845 the minister had
been Walter Scott,
a scholar with a passion for book-collecting. It was hinted,
however, that he was less than successful
in ministering to his congregation, and that Viewfield was at a low
did possess was a sound building. The Viewfield office-bearers
indicated that they were prepared to look at a union with the
'mother church' of the Secession, the Erskine Church in St. John
Street, provided that Viewfield would become the place of worship
for the new congregation. The result
was a row which created a rumpus in Stirling and attracted national
attention. Eventually, after prolonged
debate and a good deal of ill-feeling, the Presbytery accepted the
union, but equally resolved to make
arrangements for the oversight of those of the Erskine congregation
who refused to join with Viewfield
and who numbered about 240.
The union was
effected on Sunday, 2nd May, 1909, with three services in Viewfield
Church, the Rev. Mr. Wright being minister of the new congregation,
and bringing some 150 members and half the Erskine
Session with him. The issue of the use of the Erskine name rumbled
on throughout 1909, until finally an amicable solution was obtained.
The building in which the new united congregation worshipped was to
be called Viewfield Church, but the congregation itself was to be
and that is how it has remained ever since.
The Stained Glass Window.
glass window, which depicts the Creation Story as found in Genesis
chapter 1, was designed by Christian Shaw, and was bequeathed by Mr.
Alistair Cameron in memory of himself and his wife.
It was dedicated in December 1999.