Channelkirk Church History

The Original Church

There is no historical record of the foundation of the original church believed to be first founded between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, probably the oldest church in Lauderdale.

Hugh de Moreville of Lauderdale gifted the church to the Abbey of Dryburgh in the 12th century and it continued under that abbey and Convent until the time of the Reformation. Evidence of early burials suggests that the churchyard had been used as a cemetery since that period.

The present building dates from 1817. Known as the Mother Church of Lauderdale, the original church was built in what was at the time the Kingdom of Northumbria. It was dedicated to St Cuthbert, who was born about 627AD. St Cuthbert is the ‘childe’ in ‘Childerschirche’ the ancient name for the church and parish. The village of Oxton is now the centre of the church community.

It was not until 23rd March 1241 that the church was formally consecrated by Bishop David de Bernam, Bishop of the Scots from 1239 – 1253.
By custom the congregation sat in the body of the kirk.

Each section in the gallery was allocated to a farm in the parish; the farmer and family occupying the front seats, their farm servants and their families behind. The church is 945 feet above sea level. The ancient church was cruciform and in 1627 was partly a ruin.



Over the centuries the congregation has worshiped according to Roman, Episcopalian and Presbyterian rite depending on which denomination held the ascendancy in Scotland at the time.

In the course of its history the church appears to have been several times rebuilt, repaired and enlarged. In 1653 10,000 divots were used in thatching it, and again in 1724 it was repaired with slates brought from Dundee.

By 1814 the church had become so dilapidated from wind and weather that the minister refused to conduct worship until the heritors, the landed proprietors then responsible for its upkeep, agreed to build a new one.

The present building dates from 1817.

Along with the Manse, garden and southern portion of the Glebe it stands within the site of an important camp or fort, said to have been Roman but now nearly obliterated. The style of architecture of the present church has been described as perpendicular Gothic. The doors are finished with Tudor arches, the windows with divided mullions and transoms of stone.

The belfry at the west end of the roof houses the church bell inscribed ‘For Channonkirk 1702’, still rung before service every Sunday. To the left of the pulpit is a brass tablet listing the succession of ministers. To the right is a memorial to the men of the parish who died in the two world wars.

750th Anniversary

The 750th anniversary of the consecration of the church was celebrated in 1992 with an ecumenical service in which representatives of the Church of Scotland, the Episcopal Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church took part.

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Channelkirk Wall Hanging

The Channelkirk Wall Hanging, which depicts the history of the parish over the ages, was embroidered by ladies and gentlemen of the parish
and completed as part of the 750th anniversary of the consecration of the church. The central figure is that of Saint Cuthbert watching over his sheep on the Lammermuir Hills. Behind him is his cross, the design taken from his tomb in Durham Cathedral.

To the left the good Bishop David and the present church built in 1817, with the mortsafe, which is one of the cherished relics. Beside Bishop David, one of the cottar women nurses a lamb while her little
girl plays.

The base shows the focal point of Oxton life; the hotel, the War Memorial Hall, and behind the Lauder Light Railway with one of the labourers who built it with pick and shovel. Beneath flows the Leader Water, one of the monks of Dryburgh Abbey tending the Mountmill – originally Monk Mill – in the valley
below the church where roe deer still graze. The bondagers in their distinctive sunbonnets are at work in the harvest field.

The transverse arms of the St Andrews Cross represent the road of progress and the road of time.

The road of progress illustrates the evolution of the different means of transport which have passed through the parish along the road over Soutra Hill; the humble pack horse; the four wheeled wagon; the stage coach; an early motor car; the first SMT bus to Lauder and a modern juggernaut lorry owned by Campbell of Oxton.

On the road of time, a modern family watches as some of the people who have travelled along Dere Street, the ancient Roman highway linking Scotland and England which passes through the parish

  • The Roman soldier
  • Ulfkill the Norseman, the first recorded settler
  • The pilgrim, winding his way to the hospice at Soutra Aisle
  • Saint Margaret of Scotland
  • King Edward 1 of England, the Hammer of the Scots
  • Oliver Cromwell on his way to the Battle of Dunbar in 1651 and,
  • Bonny Prince Charlie who passed through the parish in 1745.

In the corners appear wildlife and elsewhere natural plants and tendered gardens.