Where are we?
Ale and Teviot United Church is situated in the Scottish Borders a short distance North of the town of Jedburgh.
The extended parish combines the original parishes of Eckford, Crailing, Nisbet, Ancrum and Lilliesleaf. These are typical Borders rural communities, set in lovely surroundings along the River Teviot to the east and the Ale Water to the west.
Ancrum, where the manse is situated, is 52 miles from Edinburgh airport and 55 miles from Newcastle airport. From Eckford in the east to Lilliesleaf in the west is about 14 miles with Ancrum being midway between them.
The nearest town, Jedburgh, has two banks, a variety of shops (two with post offices), a Co-op supermarket that was recently refurbished and the Jedburgh and Edinburgh Woollen mill shops. At present there are two primary schools (Parkside and Howdenburn) and a secondary (Jedburgh Grammar School). Work on a new intergenerational campus”, which will replace all three of these schools and also offer some further education, has recently been started and is due to open in 2020. There are also many tourist attractions of a historical nature such as the Abbey, the Castle Jail and Mary, Queen of Scots’ House. A swimming pool and fitness centre, a health centre and a selection of cafés and restaurants are among the town’s assets.
What are we?
The charge consists of four parishes, Ancrum, Crailing, Eckford and Lilliesleaf, running roughly northwest to southeast.
Ancrum was at the extreme south-east of the lands of the Bishop of Glasgow and it is thought that the site of his palace was Mantle Walls at the east end of the village. Due to its position near the Border, the village was defended by five tower houses of which little remains. The focal point of the village is the triangular Green on which stands an ancient market cross.
The church is a red sandstone building which was opened in 1890 replacing the previous church of 1762. The remains of the old church are in the kirkyard close to the Ale Water, about a quarter mile west of the village, where the cemetery is also located.
Lilliesleaf parish was administered by the Bishop of Glasgow from the twelfth century. Lilliesleaf is a very old village of ribbon development with the church at the east end. Covenanters often held Conventicles in the area.
The church was built in 1771 and restored in 1883 and 1910 when the apse was added. The church replaced an earlier church nearby. There is a stone font thought to date from the early fourteenth century and a stone coffin for a child.
Lilliesleaf had been linked to Bowden and Ashkirk but in 1994 this linkage was severed and Lilliesleaf was linked to Ancrum.
Crailing parish lies to the south east of Ancrum parish and was administered by the Abbey of Jedburgh from the thirteenth century. The parish consists of the union of the three small parishes Crailing, Nisbet and Spital in 1606.
The present Crailing Kirk was built in 1754 and the apse was added in 1892 when the east gallery was replaced. With its original Laird’s Loft, its altar and windows, the church is indeed beautiful.
The parish was united with Eckford in 1977 and then became a linked charge with Ancrum and Lilliesleaf in 1999. With the union in 2004, the linkage became Ale and Teviot United Church.
Eckford parish lies to the east of Crailing and was also administered by the Abbey of Jedburgh from the thirteenth century. Conventicles were held in the area and in the parish Richard Cameron, the Covenanting leader, received his licence to preach.
The church was built in 1668 but was closed in 2006. It is now privately owned.
Who are we?
Lilliesleaf, seven miles from the nearest town, Selkirk, is set in beautiful countryside of rolling fields and woodlands, with the Ale Water running to the north of the village and to the south a wetland called “The Moss”. The earliest known record of the village dates back to about 1116. It has a variety of old cottages and houses as well as some modern homes. With a population of around 300, there are 2 pubs – the Cross Keys and the Plough – and a small café and gift shop called “The Jammy Coo”. There is a Primary School that serves the village and the many outlying farms and settlements. It takes pupils from Primary 1 to Primary 7. The Village Hall is well used for a variety of functions and activities. The picturesque church is on the road out of the village to the East.
Lilliesleaf is a quiet and peaceful place with a fascinating history and a strong community spirit – making it a pleasant and popular village in which to live.
Ancrum is situated in the centre of the parish and is only a quarter mile from the A68, a main north-south road. It has a long history with the remains of the Palace of the Bishop of Glasgow being visible to geophysics ground radar to the east, and to the north an iron-age hill fort.
There has been a church in Ancrum from about the 11th century. The nearby graveyard has the remains of the church which was built in 1762 and which was turned into a ‘romantic ruin’ when the present church was built in 1890. The graveyard contains an early medieval hogback stone which is one of very few surviving in the Borders area.
The present Ancrum Church was renovated in 2009. The two side aisles were removed to make way for a central aisle; a few rows of pews were replaced with chairs, enabling an increase in the flexibility of use. The organ was moved to the left transept and the choir pews were removed completely to give a clear platform area.
The area of the church below the gallery was walled in and made into a meeting room with a small “kitchen” area. There are several beautiful stained glass windows and a special window dedicated to the Professor of Physiology at Edinburgh University. There is disabled access and a small toilet. The Guild meets once a month in the meeting room from September until May. There is also a Praise and Prayer meeting in this room most Sunday evenings unless there is a Songs of Praise evening service at any of the churches. The modern Manse, in the adjoining Glebe, is no more than 200 yards from the church.
The village is situated around a triangular green on which there is situated one of the few relatively complete market crosses. The green also has at its edge a war memorial dedicated to the fallen of both wars. Surrounding the green are houses of varying age, some dating back several centuries. The village has expanded with a development of houses on Myrescroft and more recently on the Dukes Field immediately to the south. These developments have significantly increased the population of the village.
Ancrum has a number of facilities which make it a popular place to live. There is a thriving village school for primary children from P1 to P5. Some take part in the annual Nativity Play in the church. For P6 and P7 the children are transported to Jedburgh. There is a well maintained children’s playpark. The village has fortunately retained its well-stocked store which has a post office attached two days weekly. There is a pub and restaurant which is very popular with walkers and those who come here to fish. The village hall, directly opposite the church, was refurbished with a lottery grant and is available to a number of organisations to hold meetings. There is an hourly bus service to and from Jedburgh and Edinburgh as well as connections to other Border towns. More recently the Borders Railway has been opened providing a half hourly train service to Edinburgh from Tweedbank, close to Galashiels.
There are many activities throughout the year which are enjoyed by villagers and visitors. There is the “Art in Ancrum” weekend each year at which local artists display their work which attracts visitors from throughout Scotland. The well maintained bowling green attracts regular competitions and is a great asset to the village. Continuing the sports theme, there is the Ancrum Football Club with its playing field and club facilities next to the A68. Each summer, at the beginning of July, a Boys’ Brigade group from Dundee camp on the football field and come to the church (or the congregation joins them!) for the Sunday morning service. There are several car boot sales held on the football field throughout the year.
There is an active gardening group that organises an Open Gardens day each year associated with a Scarecrow competition (much enjoyed by the children of the village). There is an annual Fete which has games and competitions for the local children. As part of the Jedburgh Festival, the Callant and his followers ride out to the village from Jedburgh accompanied by the Jedburgh Silver Band – a delightful and very popular event Other groups active in the village are the Ancrum and District Heritage Society, a Stargazing group, a youth club and a group who meet for coffee monthly. As in other local villages there is an annual Bonfire night with a remarkable fireworks display. All these activities make Ancrum a lively place in which to live.
In the surrounding area there are a number of lovely walks for all degrees of fitness. The visitor centre at Harestanes is approximately a mile to the east. In addition to a café this also houses a number of craft organisations and provides pleasant walks and a childrens’ adventure playground.
CRAILING, ECKFORD and NISBET
Crailing is a small, friendly village about 5 miles to the east of Ancrum. The building that used to be the Free Church of Scotland from 1900 to 1929 is the Lothian Hall. It is used for social gatherings such as coffee mornings, stick dressing and wood turning. Not far from Crailing there is the Caddy Mann Restaurant with a golf range next to it.
The landscape around Crailing is beautiful – rich farmland, the River Teviot valley, hills, forest and woodland. One famous landmark nearby is Penielheugh. The Waterloo Monument, standing 150 feet high on the top of the hill, was constructed between 1817 and 1824. Many of the farms and woodlands are part of the Lothian Estates and Lord Lothian lives in nearby Monteviot House.
There is plenty of scope for outdoor activities – hunting, shooting, fishing, cycling and walking. There is the “Jubilee Path” – a 12.5 mile circular route that links the three villages of Crailing, Eckford and Nisbet.
As with most of the Borders, there is much history associated with the surroundings. Crailing House, built in 1803, is on a site where earlier there stood a church and burial ground. It is also possible that the Cranston family castle was nearby, but no remains have ever been found. Part of the burial ground, with the Cranston graves, is still visible. The Cranston land became part of the Lothian Estates, but the House is privately owned.
Eckford village is approximately 5 miles from Kelso and is again a mixture of old and new houses. It is an attractive village with an active community. The village hall, built in 1930, is the venue for many activities including plays, concerts, crafts, badminton and table tennis.
The Jubilee Path officially starts and ends in Eckford and there is a wealth of scenery, flora and fauna to see and photograph. The village is surrounded by farmland and woodlands. Many of the local people are employed in agriculture, forestry and associated trades.
Not far from Eckford is the Teviot Smokery with its shop, restaurant and garden centre with a winding walk through the water gardens down to the River Teviot. Eckford Church, sitting on a grassy knoll overlooking the Teviot, is now privately owned, and is a historic building. The surrounding graveyard has a Mort-House at one corner where guards would keep watch for grave robbers. They were no doubt armed with flintlocks and a flagon or three of whisky to keep them warm through the cold winter nights!
Nisbet is another village steeped in history. Samuel Rutherford was born there in 1600. Many years later he was appointed Professor of Divinity at St Andrews University where he eventually became Rector.
Recently, modern houses have been built, adding to the existing stock of traditional cottages and houses. Older buildings are still being converted and updated. The community was largely a farming one, and agriculture is still an important employer.
The River Teviot runs close by the village and is popular for its walks and the brown trout, grayling, salmon and seatrout fishing. The village did have a church, but very little of it remains now, other than the graveyard. Once the church closed, the parishioners had to pay a boatman one old penny each to be rowed across the river in a fishing skiff to attend Crailing Kirk. The boatman’s cottage is still there, but of course a bridge was built to allow free access to Crailing.
About a mile from Nisbet, towards Ancrum, there is the Monteviot estate, house and gardens and the Harestanes Centre with its walks, children’s play area, crafts courtyard, shop, and café. Across the road there is also a lovely walled garden with its Woodside garden centre and restaurant. St Cuthbert’s Way passes through Monteviot Estate and close to Woodside. The paths to Penielheugh and the Waterloo monument are close by.
The Fine Detail
The vacancy has arisen due to the illness and death of the minister close to retirement.
The congregations, through the Kirk Session, have decided not “to depart from the historic and current practice in order to permit the ordination, induction or appointment of a minister or a deacon who is in a civil partnership or same sex marriage”.
THE CHARGE AND CONGREGATIONS
The congregations have unity and a core of people who attend the services regularly. They are generous, warm and friendly. As with any congregation, they seek good teaching to strengthen their faith and sensitive pastoral support. In common with many churches around the country, the main challenges are to reach out within the communities to raise awareness of the need for and importance of a spiritual dimension in people’s lives, to increase membership and attendance and to reach out to the younger generations and their children. There is a glowing core of spirituality within the congregation that will never be extinguished.
The Communion Roll at present stands at about 380, with average weekly church attendances of 35 at Ancrum, 20 at Crailing and 20 at Lilliesleaf. Attendances vary considerably at certain times of the year. The age profile is predominantly over 60 but there are some younger attendees. The special Christmas services are particularly well attended by all ages. In the last 5 years several people have joined the church including 5 teenagers. As happens with many school leavers in rural areas, they have now moved away to college, university or elsewhere.
A Local Church Review was last done in 2010. The main points were as follows:
- Commend the Session for hard work and diligence.
- Commend stewardship and the giving of time and talents to other charities.
- Commend new use of space in Ancrum church, and commend the fabric convenor for masterminding and superintending the refurbishment of the churches and manse.
- Encourage the church to continue to engage in the work of the wider church.
- Encourage the church to find new ways of bringing in young people.
- Encourage the church to continue to look at new practices for stewardship.
- Encourage ongoing dialogue with colleagues and other denominations.
The Presbytery Plan sees no change to the present charge which operates on a unitary constitution.
The Kirk Session has 23 elders, 11 of whom are female. The majority are over the age of 60. Elders were last ordained in 2015. Two elders left the membership of the church and, sadly, a third elder died early in 2018. The Guild and the Friday Club operate under the oversight of the Kirk Session.
THE COMMUNITY PROFILE
The charge is a rural one and the congregations are mainly in villages. Ancrum and Lilliesleaf both have primary schools. In Ancrum, the school covers Primary 1 to Primary 5, while in Lilliesleaf it provides for primary 1 to primary 7. There are village halls in Ancrum, Crailing, Eckford and Lilliesleaf. The nearest Hospital is the Borders General Hospital in Melrose.
The Ale & Teviot minister is the chaplain to the two primary schools, with links to Selkirk High School and Jedburgh Grammar School, those being the two secondary schools to which the primary children are promoted. The links with the 2 Primary schools have been strengthened by the Locum minister we have had. The Kirk Session is keen to continue to maintain these links on a regular basis.
In socio-economic grade terms the profile is A, B, C1, C2, D and E.
At present the weekly worship pattern varies with the church attended, as this table shows
Sunday of month
* April to October only
On Sunday evenings (unless there is another service taking place in one of the churches) there is a Praise and Prayer meeting in the Ancrum Church Meeting Room at 6.30 pm (April to October) and at 6.00pm (November to March). A Songs of Praise service is held in Ancrum Church at 6.30pm on the first Sunday of the months November to March.
The morning services are fairly traditional “low church”. The Praise and Prayer Meeting is informal; with worship songs, (via lap-top, internet and TV screen), Bible passage(s) – usually on a chosen theme – with a short commentary and time(s) for open prayer. This is led by a volunteer from the core of attendees by arrangement. Attendance varies, typically from 6 – 10.
The congregational priorities in worship life are praise, prayer, Bible reading, exposition and teaching of the Word of God. Holy Communion is observed 3 or 4 times per year and children are not excluded. CH4 is used extensively for praise, with the occasional extra hymn or song from a different source printed for the occasion. All 3 churches have large-print hymn books and NIV Bibles available for the congregations. There are two organists – one plays the digital piano at Crailing Kirk while the other plays the electronic organ at Ancrum and the historic small pipe organ at Lilliesleaf. Families and children are welcome to attend any of the services in the three churches.
The Minister normally plans, prepares and leads worship with a rota of congregational volunteers who read the reading(s). Printed orders of service have been used in the past and are still used from time to time at present. There is, at present, a substantial leased copier based in the Ancrum Church. Occasionally, services are planned and led by the elders and other congregational volunteers when the Minister is away. These usually take the form of “Songs of Praise”. There are at least 3 members of the congregations who have completed the Church of Scotland “Leading Worship” courses.
The Minister and the Elders are responsible for pastoral care in the congregation. Pastoral needs and issues are passed on by Elders, congregation members and word of mouth from the local community. Elders distribute Communion invitations and each has a designated “district”. Milfield, a residential home in Jedburgh, has welcomed the Minister in the past to lead the occasional short service.
The wife of one of the Elders always has a “Sunday School” activity prepared for the Ancrum Sunday morning service for any primary age children who may be present.
There is a “Friday Club” for children from P1 – P5, 6.30 – 7.30pm on Friday evenings during school term time. This is led by a husband and wife team and is enjoyed by the children who attend. The numbers vary, but often reach double figures. Some attend the “Spree in The Borders” weekend in the summer.
Christian education for adults is the Sunday sermons. A monthly devotional diary is also provided with an Old Testament reading, a Gospel reading and another New Testament reading, together with a suggested focus for prayer for every day. This is based on a 2 year Lectionary cycle.
The Praise and Prayer meeting can also be considered part of Christian education,
In Jedburgh there are Baptist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches, as well as a Church of Scotland. There are occasional joint services in Jedburgh, but Ale and Teviot are not directly involved. Jedburgh has a local grouping of Churches Together.
All three of our congregations have a retiring offering for Christian Aid around the time of Christian Aid Week.
STEWARDSHIP AND FINANCE
In 2016 there was a surplus of £11,631, in 2017 a deficit of £3,902 and in 2018 a
The Net Ministries and Mission contribution for 2019 is £26,962 reduced to £15,766 after the vacancy allowance is taken into account.
The church has a Session Clerk and a Fabric Convenor/Clerk of Works who is also the Church Officer for Lilliesleaf Church. Church Officer duties for Ancrum and Crailing are done by congregational volunteers and there is a local lady who works voluntarily as the cleaner for Ancrum and Crailing, as her contribution to the communities.
CHURCHES, MANSE AND HALLS
The congregations have no halls or property other than the three church buildings and the Manse in Ancrum.
The Manse is relatively modern and up to the Church of Scotland standards for a manse. It has 4 bedrooms, a lounge, a dining room, a study, a kitchen, a bathroom upstairs, a shower room and toilet downstairs, a kitchen and a utility room. There is a separate garage and a manageable garden.
Church of Scotland Census data for Ale & Teviot can be found by going to the Church of Scotland website. Go to the “Contact us” page and click on “find your local church”. Enter a TD8 postcode and scroll down from the map that appears to find Ancrum Church. Click in the right-hand box “church profile and contact” then click on “Parish Statistics” (Sorry, but no direct hyperlink to this specific page could be found.) For the Church of Scotland website, click here.
The Ale & Teviot website is, at present, in the process of being updated – which may be quite a lengthy task! It can be found by clicking here.
A Facebook page is being set up but is not available at the time of writing. When it is up and running this link here will work, hopefully!