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, 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 one bank, a variety of shops (one with a post office), a Co-op supermarket that was recently refurbished and the Jedburgh and Edinburgh Woollen mill shops. Jedburgh Grammar Campus opened in 2020 and provides education from nursery to sixth year secondary. There are also community and sports facilities. Among the many tourist attractions of a historical nature are the Abbey, the Castle Jail and Mary, Queen of Scots’ House. A swimming pool and fitness centre, a health centre, a bowling Club and green, and a selection of cafés and restaurants are among the town’s assets. The town also has a famous rugby ground and there are rugby and football teams.

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.

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.

Crailing Kirk has been designated for closure by the Presbytery.

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.

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.

Who are we?



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 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 Duke‘s 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. 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 anglers.  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 a 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 attend the Sunday morning service in the church.  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   Among other groups active in the village are the Ancrum and District Heritage Society, a Stargazing group, and a football club.  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 outlets and provides pleasant walks and a childrens’ adventure playground.


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.

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.


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 is a pub – the Cross Keys – and 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, with its historic pipe organ, 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.

The Fine Detail

Due to the illness and death of the minister close to retirement, the charge is at present vacant.  With the imminent reorganisation of the presbyteries and the redistribution of ministers, we are no longer free to call a minister.

The congregations, through the Kirk Session, made the decision 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 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 320, with average weekly church attendances of around 20 at Ancrum and 10 to 15 at Crailing and 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 five years no people have joined the church.

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 present charge operates on a unitary constitution.

The Kirk Session has 21 elders, 10 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, a third elder died early in 2018 and another in 2019.



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.  There is a Health Centre in Jedburgh and 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 Campus, those being the two secondary schools to which the primary children are promoted.  The links with the Primary schools were strengthened by the Locum minister we had until early 2019.  The Kirk Session is keen to continue to maintain these links on a regular basis.  However, the Covid-19 restrictions have sadly cut these links dramatically.

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

1st 10.00 am No Service 11.30 am
2nd No Service 10.00 am 11.30 am
3rd 10.00 am No Service 11.30 am
4th 10.00 am No Service No Service
5th 10.00 am No Service 11.30 am


The services are fairly traditional “low church”.

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.  All three churches have large-print hymn books and NIV Bibles available for the congregations. There are now no organists.  Two electronic hymnals have been purchased for use in Lilliesleaf and Crailing churches.  They are connected into the public address systems.  Ancrum church has a laptop computer and large screen TV for the services there.  Families and children are welcome to attend any of the services in the three churches.

The Minister or Locum normally plans, prepares and leads worship with a rota of congregational volunteers who read the reading(s). There is 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 sometimes 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”.  Millfield, a residential home in Jedburgh, has welcomed the Minister in the past to lead the occasional short service.


Christian education for adults is the Sunday sermons.  A monthly devotional diary is also provided with Psalms, 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 two-year Lectionary cycle.

There is no Sunday school or other children’s group as this stopped with the Covid-19 restrictions.  Sadly, children seldom attend the church.


All three of our congregations have a retiring offering for Christian Aid around the time of Christian Aid Week.


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.


In 2019 there was a deficit of £2,958, in 2020 a deficit of £6,394 and in 2021 a surplus of £16,450.

The Net Ministries and Mission contribution for 2022 is £17,975 reduced to £6,779 after the vacancy allowance is taken into account.


The church has a Session Clerk, a treasurer 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.


The congregations have no halls or property other than the three church buildings and what was the Ancrum Manse.  At present the house is let to a couple whose nearby home was burned down.



2017 2 12 0 4
2018 2 13 0 3
2019 3 4 0 2
2020 0 5 0 0
2021 1 8 0 2
2022 0 0 0 3
2023 1 1 0 2



Church of Scotland Census data for Ale & Teviot can be found by going to the Church of Scotland website, click here.

Ale and Teviot and Surrounding Parishes before reorganisation