Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SHETLAND’S SIDEWAYS CHURCHES – CREATIVITY OR NECESSITY?






The Roman basilica

The first encounter is a true surprise; the interiors are completely unexpected, such is our perception and understanding of traditional church planning in the Christian world. The prototype for the plan was, from the very beginning of the church, the basilica, the Roman law court. It was the apparent similarity of the basilica’s interior to a boat that is said to have given this vessel its religious context, its use as a symbol for the church, a representation frequently seen in the Nordic countries: see - http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/the-nordic-architecture-symposium-aalto.html The basilica was a classical shed form with a simple gable roof with lower side aisles attached as symmetrical skillions. The church was similarly set out on its long axis creating a promenade for processional drama. By adopting an eastern and western symbolism with the rising and the setting sun - birth and death – this line of movement linked the apse and the entrance along a central aisle: the path of life itself. The congregation addressed the altar installed in the far eastern end of the space: the place of birth and resurrection. The backs of the worshippers were turned to the west, almost as a gesture of optimism, perhaps hope: death overcome by ‘eternal life’ - “We shall overcome!”





Typical Shetland boat roof




Ulvik kirke - traditional axial planning


This planning diagram remained the core pattern for the church throughout the ages. While there were developments, these grew around the historical, axial model that was rigidly maintained throughout the centuries in the centres of Christendom. The plan was modified with private altars; side chapels; fewer or no aisles; larger transepts; towers; cloisters; choirs; halls; and chapter houses. Occasionally other geometries were used, like octagonal and elliptical variations to the rectangular precedent, but the basics were always adhered to: a central axis linking entrance and altar. Things were no different even in the remote northern isles of Great Britain, or in far away Norway. St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney, followed the diagram in Romanesque times, in the same way as the Stavanger cathedral did. Small chapels and local churches did likewise with their modelling, each in its own modest manner. These structures, with their simplified plans and sections, mimicked the grand exemplars as best they could afford, with modest arrangements and materials, but they were always based on a long, axial centreline that referenced and maintained the symbolism.







Traditional church plans

One could follow this linearly stratified diagram right up into the 1960s when churches began questioning the hierarchical pattern of exclusive spaces and places in relation to changed ambitions in the liturgy. In an attempt to make the arrangements more inclusive, the altar/communion table was pulled forward into a more central position. The idea of equity and equality was being incorporated in the church as a new, revised arrangement with a relocated focal point. The concept was that the actual, physical inclusiveness in this planning revision created real inclusiveness and equality within the church. It is an idea, a concept, that seems naive and overly simplistic, inept, when literally brought into reality in this blatant fashion that interprets words materially in an effort to enhance an emotive circumstance by crude analogy, as if this might be possible outside of its rational logic – c.f. also Murcutt’s mosque and Abedian School at Bond University: http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/murcutts-mosque-meanings-sources.html and http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/the-art-of-many-danish-biennale-in-brief.html Wittgenstein would say: “As if this was necessarily so.”



Modern church plans

In older churches, one really has no reason to expect anything but the norm, a plan patterned as it has been for centuries. One is perhaps more prepared for difference when entering a ‘modern’ church. Hence the surprise with these old Shetland kirks, and the intrigue - they are sideways! But why is there this difference? Was there some creative urge to experiment, to explore variety and variations? Was there a new symbolism being expressed? This interest seems out of character with the Shetlander who, while a skilled, shrewd and intelligent, adaptable inventor, is relatively conservative. Stories of the old kirks and their ministers only reinforce this traditionalist perception, showing the church to be very conservative, perhaps extremely so; ultra-conservative. These were true ‘old times’ for the church that saw the minister as an individual with as much power, authority, and able to demand as much respect as the laird. The old school diaries illustrate this dominance. Both the minister and the laird signed off after their regular inspections, as did the school inspector, but only once a listing of failings and remedial recommendations had been scheduled as a set of instructions for the teacher – e.g. more sewing for the girls. Both hands were equally florid and assertive in their self-identification, just as bold and threatening as the school inspector’s signature. This was the time of the strict Sabbath, and diabolical threats to one’s salvation and well being with any transgression or deviation from expectations: (see Revd. James Ingram below - He was known from his youth as a resolute opponent of the devil and all his works. Fiddles were to him anathema and dancing a major sin).


Tingwall kirk

The pulpit windows - Tingwall: a diagrammatic marking of importance with a glare problem

The limits of decoration

Why then is there this stunning surprise when one enters what looks like an ordinary, small chapel standing in the open Shetland fields surrounded by an ancient graveyard enclosed by a drystone dyke? These places of worship, sometimes marked by a high cross or bell, are usually the least inspiring structures in the area, shaped as large drab boxes with gabled roofs and a few small glum openings. They seem to confirm the harsh rules of the kirk, its raw authority over the local folk. There was no condescension here; there was no room for frivolous delight in this place. The word was preached and adhered to with an upright, unrelenting, serious commitment. The buildings oozed this staid righteousness. Tall walls in stained, damp grey dirty render, perhaps pebble-dashed, declared the simplistic, raw presence of the rule of the church for all to fear: waste not; want not. There was no joyous detailing here; no breadth of stained glass. A few windows did have some meagre floral edgings, but these were kept to an absolute minimum. This decoration was usually used in the windows surrounding the pulpit, as if to highlight its special significance: the remainder had clear glass; sometimes plain; sometimes textured, obscure, to make sure the congregation could not be distracted with external goings on: a distant sheep grazing; a passing cloud. To the visitor today, the graveyard remains the most interesting primal place to peruse as one circles the grim, dark, boxed mass of the kirk, the central black hole, almost suggestive of hell itself; its threat to wrongdoers?

Tingwall Kirk


When one, with the attitude of “Well, I’m here now; I might as well look inside if I can – if it is open,” approaches the door and finds it unlocked after parading through all the life stories in the allies of the graveyard, it becomes an astonishment that the interior is so different to all judgements embodied as understandings from centuries of history that have created the habit of thought which guides expectations.


Stair to mezzanine Tingwall

Entering the place of worship along the linear axis - Tingwall: the surprise

Looking back to the point of entry - Tingwall

The difference is not immediately obvious. One usually enters a small porch that opens again into a tiny lobby. Still nothing is noticeably different. To one side is the door to the rectory; on the other a stair – oh! So there is a mezzanine. This is not an unusual pattern for the Scottish church that seems to have incorporated a mezzanine to increase numbers without enlarging the plan. Then one opens yet another typical, ordinary door, one like all others, even the small store room door, and enters the core space where folk gather to worship. Here is the great surprise – it is sideways! The door is on the central axis of the building, as is the entry porch, but it opens to a passageway that passes along the face of the communion table located centrally on the transverse axis, in front of the pews around it. The seating is set out on two levels as a ‘U’ looking south, that wraps around the communion table standing in front of the pulpit raised on the wall between two southern windows. This pulpit, (so close to ‘bull pit’! - maybe ‘pit bull’ like some ministers of the era?), is accessed by a small staircase, in much the same manner as is seen in grand cathedrals, and in mosques too, where the elevated preaching platform is known as the minbar: see - http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/abu-dhabi-hotel-mosque-heritage-centre.html The preacher stands midway between the two levels and is the focus of the space.


Looking down to the pulpit and communion table - Tingwall: looking west

The pulpit - Tingwall: like a minbar

These are not ordinary churches, yet there is no great exclamation on the exterior that tells of this unusual internal circumstance. Indeed, the western ‘cathedral’ door still remains, along with the less formal entrance through the small eastern porch, although this approach was not always the norm. Both of these elements suggest a typical east-west, symmetrical setout and reinforce the traditional symbolic references. The ‘sideways’ arrangement may vary from example to example, (Tingwall kirk is described above), but the idea remains the same: for the passersby there is no clear clue that declares the fact of startling internal difference. The only vague hint is a pair of raised windows on the south wall, a subtle, but indecisive, uncertain clue. That the pulpit and communion table are located on a cross axis, that sometimes aligns with a rectory placed externally on the north, sets up what could be seen as a cruciform axial arrangement similar to that of the nave/transept plan of the historic church, but here repurposed. It is an arrangement that holds no particular style or essential symbolism. So why was it implemented?


Lund pulpit


Lund interior - looking along the transverse towards the vestry


Seating below the mezzanine - Tingwall: seats facing south, looking east

The mezzanine - Tingwall: looking along the linear axis

Lewis, 2016

One has to ask: with such conservative, conventional rigour in the church of Scotland – consider the Sabbath on Lewis that still lingers with its rules, (‘No Fishing!’ along with a schedule of other forbidden activities like cooking, gardening, and washing), just as it used to be everywhere in Scotland (see Revd. James Ingram below) – how does this ‘creative’ game, this apparent inventive playfulness that appears to hold no symbolic intent, come to be tolerated when the church preaches strict alignment with all past ideas and ideals, as identified in the Bible and tradition, and as interpreted by individual whim? Why does the conservative attitude even allow such dramatic diversions, these ninety-degree turns, when everything else is a series of strict demands to maintain the ‘straight and narrow’? No variations in expectations for behaviour were ever permitted, not even in Sunday fishing: see - http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/stevenson-lighthouse-butt-of-lewis.html  As Bill Bryson noted in his book, At Home, folk, like servants, were expected to be honest, clean, hard-working, sober, dutiful and circumspect - (p.147). So why did this dramatic variation become acceptable?


Lund Kirk interior

There is an hypothesis.
While it looks inventive, a very creative concept, perhaps the rearrangement of the sideways church is a simple evolution of the traditional basilica form that had an additional upper level of seating installed, introduced into the basic 'shed-styled' box chapel/church to more efficiently increase numbers. Did this mezzanine variation become a regional tradition that caused the tensions for this change through pure necessity?


Lund - note the exposed floor joists of the mezzanine

When a new church was contemplated for the community, perhaps budgets were important, demanding small, minimal overall areas in an efficient, compact plan. If the numbers were critical, or sought to be maximised in these new projects, maybe a mezzanine was considered necessary to achieve the desired increase so as to keep the footprint as small and economical as possible? Perhaps a gallery was always expected, being the local model? Was it discovered that this newly consolidated plan space, being minimal in both width and length for economy, could not easily fit the traditional 'U'-form mezzanine on a longitudinal axis? Would this setout have created too narrow a double-height space for ordinary convenience, making the mezzanie appear more like a mediaeval choir space with seats snugly facing those opposite instead of addressing the pulpit? Perhaps the whole circumstance came about because the desired regional, traditional layout would simply just not work? One wonders when this issue might have first become obvious. It could have been realised only after construction had been started, or even once the envelope had been completed in the first instance, but it seems unlikely as the location of the pulpit is marked by windows that are located higher than the norm, suggesting some pre-planning in understanding the impact of the twist in the layout that saw the pulpit placed on the south wall instead of on the eastern axis, Which was the first church to make this innovation? Lunna, 1753, with parts dating back to the 1100’s? How did this church evolve? Was it ever arranged with a long, central axis?


Western facade, Lund Kirk


The most stylish of the sideways churches

Lund's unusual external stairs to the gallery space hint at a strict segregation - them and us.

Given the obvious difficulty with an axial ‘U’ formed mezzanine in the smaller framework of walls, was the pulpit/seating arrangement spun around ninety degrees, giving a better size, proportion, scale and performance for the 'U' and the double-height void, a more efficient and effective distribution, allowing all in the congregation to feel comfortably involved in the service in the smaller volume? Unusually, this transformation in the plan provided what took years for the church to achieve with its 'new' liturgy that sought to include the people more in the goings on of the service rather than position them as onlookers, overcoming the ‘them-and-us’ theatrical experience. This concept saw the modern church with a 'central' plan developed around a repositioned altar. This principle established some radial plans, such was the strength of the intent to achieve equality. Ironically, the radial plan has been used for what can be seen as the reverse intention, for a cynical, suspicious supervision in libraries and prisons, rather than for the communal sharing of love.


Lund Kirk

St. Malachy's, Belfast

A most elaborate sideways church styled with a Tudor theme

In the sideways model, the pulpit and communion table take centre stage literally, being located on a transverse axis that bisects the encompassing ‘U.’ The recent 'new' solutions to Christian involvement have rarely achieved the compactness seen in the 'sideways' churches in Shetland. This plan arrangement has also been used in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in St. Malachy’s Church, established in 1866 - see: http://voussoirs.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/drawing-belfast-command-character.html  Here, in Belfast, the same diagram is modelled on a much larger and grander scale, very beautifully too. It achieves an intent similar to that of the Shetland examples, but with an excellent, cathedral-like, Tudor-inspired interior: grand and splendid. What one realises is that with the cathedral/basilica plan, those towards the rear of the space are truly isolated from the minister’s/preacher’s activities. Today in cathedrals where congregational numbers have fallen, while tourist numbers have dramatically increased, the seating that the reduced congregation occupies is that portion of the interior close to the transept; and it makes for a far more intimate involvement than the full cathedral might. The smaller, closer, compact group offers an experience more informally friendly than that where larger numbers stretch between and beyond the columns of the nave: but the cathedral was really all about things great and grand, not intimate - it was about God, not mere mortals. Still, even in the back of the galleries of some traditional Shetland churches, there is a sense of isolation that the sideways spaces overcome. The idea of the rearrangement that turns the axis ninety degrees is a significant change, a difference that not only addresses the proportional problem involved, but also the functional concerns. These places have a snug wholeness about them, something like a kernel in its shell. In the very small churches, as on Fetlar, the model was further miniaturised, truncated, with the traditional longitudinal axis being maintained. A miniscule rectangular mezzanine was placed above the entry across the full width of the space. This low entry zone creates a unique intimacy to this cosy place, again creating a true community refuge.

West Kirk, Fetlar - simple, crude and bland externally, with a bright, cosy interior

West Kirk, Fetlar

The list of sideways churches in Shetland is included below. Perusing the dates in these listings, (provided in chronological order), Lunna is indeed the oldest church. Some doubtful examples show how the model can become awkwardly impossible with a reduced width, leaving folk sitting in places separated both visually and spatially from the pulpit. The twist in plan solved this dilemma in the smaller churches, providing an intriguing solution – truly Shetlandic: ordinarily extraordinary; startling but humble; exemplary but not exclamatory.


Lund pulpit

Whalsay Kirk

Whalsay Kirk

Tingwall Kirk

The external visual clues for the ‘sideways’ church seems to be the lonely western doorway; the eastern porch (occasionally); the twin high windows on the south, (that usually define the pulpit zone); upper windows or roof lights for the mezzanine. Still there is no certainty; the plan is difficult to interpret as being different unless one goes and looks. Occasionally the rectory is built on the north. All the exteriors have a similar, simple austerity that, like the typical, shrewd Shetlander, gives very little information away. Ironically the oldest is the most stylish - Lunna kirk.


Stair to mezzanine - Tingwall: not a millimetre wasted

Lund Kirk

In summary, one can see how this dramatic shift in orientation fits beautifully into the ultra-conservative austerity of the church of the times: there is nothing playfully experimental here; nothing truly creatively joyful. With the intent to maximise congregations in the smallest and most compact space possible, and for the best price too – unnecessary excess being frowned upon; frugality being praised - efficient buildings were proposed, so small and compact, compacted, with not one wasted millimetre, that the traditional arrangement with gallery seating to double the numbers became impossible when set out linearly on a centre-line axis; just too awkward and tight. The space in the ‘U’ would have been too cramped and inefficient, a mere passageway void. It looks as though it was pure necessity that created the twist – conservative meanness, economy, prudence, rather than creativity alone. It looks like a change driven by commodity and firmness, rather than delight. There appears to have been something essential demanding this modification, rather than a desire for a new closeness; guile rather than gratifying pleasure in what is an exciting and truly inspiring spatial manoeuvre that creates the unique intimacy in these little places of worship: vital and memorable community centres. One feels that they were admired in the past too, but only, perhaps, for their functional effectiveness that confirmed the pivotal role of the minister in society, in built form: the linchpin of the region and its people; the axis mundi of the community. The replanning of these churches was a bold, rigorous gesture that flew in the face of the traditional symbolism to address matters of pure practical, functional fact. It was a rational rearrangement, as clear and certain as the rules for living were. The sideways variation reflected the concept of a church for people rather than any esoteric glorification of mystery and meaning - the essence of the Scottish church.


Pulpit, Lund Kirk - the axis mundi


The 'kernel' space - waste not; want not: Tingwall.



THE SIDEWAYS CHURCHES

The sideways churches are listed here in chronological order. The citations have been taken from https://www.preceden.com/timelines/150324-the-history-and-the-here-and-now-of-shetland-s-christian-family
Each listing has been reproduced in full, complete with names and contacts. These give an indication of the current situation with each kirk. All the selections below have been chosen for their features that suggest sideways planning. Some have to be confirmed.* Those that are not planned sideways can be seen as illustrating the transitional circumstances where the interiors are getting more narrow. Lunna, Tingwall, Whalsay and Hillswick have been visited. The first three are sideways churches. Hillswick (see NOTE below) has been included to illustrate the typical galleried kirk: see -
*The churches in Lerwick and Scalloway remain the most uncertain.

Lunna
1753
Location: Lunna
Built: 1753, parts of this Kirk probably date back at least in part to the 1100's and is by far the oldest building in use for Christian worship in Shetland.
Lunna Kirk, St Margaret's Church, is known as "The ancient kirk of Lunna". It's the oldest church in Shetland that is still in regular use.
The present church was built by the fourth Hunter of Lunna in 1753, but it incorporates parts of an earlier building that goes back to pre-Reformation days. It was the Hunter family mausoleum which exsisted on the site before the church was built. Two 17th. century graveslabs from the mausoleum are nowadays incorporated into the walls of the porch.
The Kirk measures 34 x 17 foot, internal dimensions, with walls up to 3 foot thick, and with buttresses on the east side. Most of the construction is massive volcanic whinstone blocks from nearby, with a few sandstone details.
Before there was a road to Lunna Kirk, many of the congregation would travel there by boat. On the rocks below the Kirk, a ring remains where the boats would be tied up.
Although there was no church in use in Lunna at the time when the present building was errected we can find some relics of much older religious buildings close to the site. The best known feature is the remains of a small rectangular chapel with an enclosure dating back to the 12th century. They are just on top of Chapel Knowe, a large irregular mound probably of prehistoric origin only a few yards to the northwest of Lunna Kirk. This picture was taken from the top of Chapel Knowe which is nicely integrated into the whole landscape around Lunna House by the imposing gateway.
A few steps straight to the south of Chapel Knowe and straight to the west of Lunna Kirk--now hidden under thick layers of moss and grass and therefore barely visible--there are some irregular features which are addressed as site of a former monastery in old Ordnance Survey maps and monument records. Neither site has been properly excavated and no records do exist as to when the 'monastery' and/or the chapel went out of use.
Ref: Shetlopedia.


















Service times:
Minister: Rev Irene Charlton
Contact: Rev Irene
Tel: 01806566767
Email irene.charlton@virgin.net

Tingwall
1790
C.O.S.
Location: Tingwall
Built: 1790
Notes: Sir Walter Scott visited this Church in July 1814, a plaque commemorating the visit is inside the Church.
The following link gives access to the story of the Turnbull Tragedies of 1836
shetlandtimes.co.uk/2009/11/08/history-the-turnbull-tragedies last accessed 19/09/2015
This story can also be read in ' The Story of the Tingwall Kirk' by G.M. Nelson 1965
































Service times: Sun 12noon (winter months)
Sun 9:15 (summer months), alternate Sundays with Weisdale(10am)
Communion: Quarterly.
Mission support: Colin Johnson (mission partner) in Israel (TIBERIUS).
World Mission Committee (very active).
Minister: New minister ordained and inducted to the pastorate of the parish on 9th Oct. 2014 Rev. Deborah Dobby.

Contact: Brenda Scollay Tel: 01595840339
Thelma Robertson Tel: 01595840383
Laureen Slater Tel: 01595840338


Dunrossness
1791
C.O.S.
Location: Dunrossness
Built: 1791
































Service times: Sun 11:15am
Minister: Rev Charles Greig ( Retired 2016 )
Contact:
Tel:
Email


Nesting
1792
Location: Neap Nesting
Built: 1792
































Service times:
Ministry: Rev Irene Charlton
Contact: Rev Irene
Tel: 01806566757
Email irene.charlton@virgin.net


Sandness (C.O.S.)
136
Sandness Parish Church (C.O.S) St Margaret's

















Address:
Built: 1792
Current use or state: Crofters outhouse
"On the east gable is a weathered stone 'Fear God 1645'. There are also some old grave slabs and 19th century wooden grave markers" (29)
(29) Ref: Finnie, Mike (30 Dec 1990). Shetland: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Mainstream Publishing: England


Bressay
1812
Location: Bressay

















Built: 1812 to replace an earlier kirk of 1722 which in turn replaced Bressay's three ancient chapels.
Service times: Sun 6.15pm May-Oct, 2.45pm Nov- Apr
Minister: Rev Caroline Lockerbie
Contact: Rev Caroline Lockerbie The Manse, St Olaf St. Lerwick
Tel: 01595692125


Lerwick Church
1819
Location: Hillhead Lerwick
Built: 1819
































Service Times: Sun am 11am (during summer, start time may be 10.30am-check local advertising)
Weekly Diary: Tues’s 7.30 Prayer meeting. Thurs’s Oct-June Bible study/Housegroups.
Sun. Evenings Youth Fellowship.
Communion: Monthly
Mission support: Many Worldwide connections
Minister: Rev. Jeremy Dare ( Retired 2016 )
Contact: Charles Spence Tel.01595696549
methodistchurchesinshetland.org.uk last accessed 19/09/2015
methodistchurchesinshetland.org.uk/lerwick-methodist-church last accessed 19/09/2015


Lerwick Congregational Church
1820
Lerwick Congregational Church 
Denomination: Congregational 
Location: Claremont Place Lerwick 
Built: 1820
































Service times: Sun 10:45AM
Communion 1st Sun. Every month
Minister: Vacant
Contact: Wilma Manning
Tel. 01595696023
Mob. 07747605207
Email: wilmamanning1@btinternet.com


Yell (St. Olaf's Cullivoe)
1830
































Notes:


Mid-Yell
1832
Location: Yell
St John's Mid Yell
(Closing down service held 5-2-2017, at 3pm, lead jointly by Rev. David Cooper and Rev. Magnie Williamson)
































Built 1832
Service times:
Minister:
Contact:


Scalloway
1841
Location: Scalloway
Built: 1841
































Service times: 10:45am
Communion: Four times a year
Minister: Minister ordained and inducted to the parish on 9th Oct. 2014 Rev. Deborah Dobby.
Contact: Larry Sutherland
Tel:01595880272


Whalsay
1867
Location: Kirk-Ness Whalsay
Built: Remodelled in 1867. The Kirk is on the site of an earlier church (1733)






































































































Service times:
Minister: Rev Irene Charlton
Contact: Rev Irene
Tel: 01806566767
Email irene.charlton@virgin.net

The following is a translation, from the Latin, of a historical document relating to the 'Vicarage of Nesting and Quhilsay' (Whalsay) dated A.D.1567
"Adam, by the Divine mercy, bishop of Orkney and Zetland, to the Archdean of our church of Zetland, or any other vicar of the same, wheresoever constituted within our diocese of Zetland, within divine benediction: Whereas the vicarage of Nesting and Quhilsay in Zetland, situated within our church of Zetland, now vacant by the death or deceased of sometime Sir George Strang, last vicar and possessor of the same, belonging to our presentation in full right, we have provided and conferred, as by the tenor of these presents we do confer, to a discreet man, Alexander Kyncaid, conjunctly and severally, procurator, and in name of Alexander Spittell, son of Alexander Spittell of Blairlogy, absent as present, by placing our ring on the finger of the said Alexander Kyncaid, fully committing the cure, government, and administration of the same to the said Alexander: To you, therefore, and each of you, we give in charge, straightly enjoining you in virtue of holy obedience, and under the penalties prescribed by the laws, that ye forthwith induct and invest the said Alexander Spittell, or for him his lawful procurator, into the real, actual, and corporal possession of the said vicarage of Nesting and Quhilsay respectively now vacant, according to the custom; firmly restraining gainsayers or rebels if, haply, there be any such, by the ordinary authority. In faith and testimony of which, all and sundry the premises, we have commanded and caused these our present letters of collation, or this present public instrument, written by a notary public, to be confirmed by the hanging to of our seal: Given under our subscription manual, at Edinburgh, the 20th day of May, in the year of the Lord A Thousand Five Hundred Sixty- Seven, and of our inauguration the ninth year"
Adam,
Bishop of Orkney and Zetland
Ref: Goudie, Gilbert 'Antiquities of Shetland' page 147. Publisher: William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1904



FREE CHURCH & REVD. JAMES INGRAM

An important event which blew apart the dynamic of the established Church of Scotland here in Shetland, equally as cataclysmically as throughout the rest of Scotland, was 'The Disruption' of 1843.












The disruption.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/disruptionof1843. last accessed 30-08-2015
This split in the Kirk caused bitter divisions, left ministers without homes and salaries and congregations found themselves without churches to worship in.
The 'bone of contention' was the Patronage Act of 1712 which gave the local laird the legal power to install ministers of their choosing in local parishes, this meant congregations had no say in who preached to them.
At the opening of the General Assembly of the 'Church of Scotland' 1843 the retiring Moderator read out a prepared protest, bowed to the Queen's commissioner and walked out, he was followed by 200 other ministers and elders.
A total of 450 ministers, throughout Scotland broke away and formed the 'Free Church of Scotland'.
In Shetland the fall-out from the 'Disruption saw 'Free' congregations building churches and setting up preaching stations during the latter half of the 1800's in Cunningsburgh, Delting, Dunrossness, Fetlar, Lerwick, Quarff-Burra, Sandwick, Unst, Walls-Sandness, Weisdale and Yell.
-------------------------
The Rev. James Ingram D.D. was known in Shetland (especially Unst) as the father of the Free Church. He was known from his youth as a resolute opponent of the devil and all his works. Fiddles were to him anathema and dancing a major sin. Fearing nothing but God he insisted on preaching in the pulpit when well over ninety years of age, now and then so carried away by his theme that he would lose track of time resulting in his son, white haired and over seventy, ascending the pulpit plucking at his gown and saying " Hey, father, its time to stop".
The measure of respect he had among his people can be gauged by the fact that 1054 out of 1100 members of his flock followed him out, in spite of threats from the laird.
This was courageous since he lost stipend, house and Kirk building in the process.
He died in 1879 at the grand old age of 102yrs. (19)

Revd. James Ingram





















Shetland’s Christianity then, was once Celtic, later it was Scandinavian, later again it was Scottish, first Medievil then Reformed, once Episcopalian, then Presbyterianism, then Dissenting and, as we're beginning to see, ultimately out of those independent beginnings, Denominational, and that’s how it remains in our time.
(19) Cluness, Andrew T. (1956). The Shetland Isles. England: Hales.
https://www.preceden.com/timelines/150324-the-history-and-the-here-and-now-of-shetland-s-christian-family


NOTE
Did these sideways churches inspire other changes? The church on Unst, St. John’s at Baltasound, built 1825-1827, apparently once accommodated 2000, (with or without a gallery is not known - one seems likely), but it was dramatically down sized and rebuilt in 1959, halved in plan or less and turned sideways, when numbers dropped off; maybe once the herring industry activities had declined with the demise of the industry. The original entrance porch was maintained and used as a base for the new bellcote. The remodelled kirk has no gallery.



Baltasound Unst
1825
St John's, Baltasound,

St. John's Baltasound - courtyard walls on the right are a part of the original church walls (1825-27)



The interior of St. John's is a segment of the old church turned sideways, with a traditional axial plan (no mezzanine)

Built 1825-27 ( out of the stones of, and at 90degrees to the original Kirk, " a vast Georgian box, which has said to have seated 2000 " the outline of which is retained in a walled garden), rebuilt 1959
Service times: Services advertised locally
Minister: Rev David Cooper (Minister of the Methodist Church). 
Contact: Rev David Cooper
Tel: 01957744258
Email reveranddavidcooper@googlemail.com

On galleries
The Hillswick kirk built a gallery into the space at a later date so as to increase the numbers that could be accommodated. The Hillswick listing, although somewhat enigmatic and uncertain given the confusion with dates, notes an intention to accommodate 600 people: Built: 1733, The galleried interior was rebuilt c.1825 to hold 600Aearlier note tells of the demolition of the old St. Magnus church in 1788 to get stones for the new building; another reference says: This church was in use until about 1870, when a new church was built on a different site. The intention of the extra level is clear even if the dates appear to be all muddled. Did the local population come to expect a galleried space for worship?


Hillswick
1733
Location: Hillswick Northmavine Kirk
Built: 1733, The galleried interior was rebuilt c.1825 to hold 600












































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NOTE - 15 MAY 2017
Sketch plans of a sideways church plan compared with a 'basilica' plan to illustrate the spatial issues:


The sideways plan gathers the congregation around the pulpit in the smaller-scaled building on both levels. Within the same space, the 'basilica' plan generates a gallery that is long and thin, and isolates the congregation on the upper level from the pulpit. The seating on the lower level extends the depth of the church to the front porch, leaving a large proportion isolated, distanced under the gallery above. The parallel arms of the 'basilica' gallery develop their own reciprocal, static address like that of the cathedral choir stalls, and ignore the preacher in the pulpit who is left looking along a long, narrow void.

NOTE - 27 MAY 2017

It is interesting to note how the sideways church has a different relationship to light. The solar reference of the basilica plan is the east-west axis, symbolic of birth-death-resurrection. This relationship could be seen as a theological analogy. The sideways plan, with its north-south axis, relates to light more functionally, practically, with ‘the light of the world’ streaming into the church around the pulpit, the source of the message, to engage in the lived experience of warmth and luminance rather than an intellectually, metaphorical event. It reveals a true, Scottish protestant ethic.