Our Linked Congregations
The Tinto Parishes
Libberton & Quothquan Parish Church is “linked” with Cairngryffe and Symington Parish Churches. All three churches share a minister and joint services are held every quarter.
The linked parish is situated in Upper Clydesdale in South Lanarkshire and encompasses the communities of Carmichael, Covington, Libberton, Pettinain, Quothquan, Symington and Thankerton with an extensive rural hinterland including several large farms, the River Clyde forms the parish boundary to the east and north and the Tinto Hills to the west.
Cairngryffe was established in 1995 as a union of the former linked congregations of Carmichael, Covington and Pettinain. The church at Carmichael was selected eventually as the place of worship for the united parish and styled Cairngryffe Kirk. The remaining two church buildings at Covington and Pettinain have since been sold. Symington was linked with Cairngryffe at this time and its church building retained. The manse of Covington that had served as the manse for the three linked congregations was sold and the manse at Symington, completed in 1995, was selected as the manse for the new linkage.
To establish the linkage with Cairngryffe, Symington was taken out of its previous linkage of some twelve years with Culter and Libberton and Quothquan. The new linkage was welcomed in Symington, and over the period of the previous two ministries, relations with Cairngryffe have been cordial and productive and the two congregations share several common activities. The inevitable shifts in membership consequent on any union have now become historical and each church has been enriched by the addition of members who are no longer ‘new’ but full contributors to the life and work of their chosen place of worship.
In 2013 the parish of Libberton and Quothquan joined the linkage. This re-established the previous linkage with Symington which as already noted, was dissolved in 1995. This had been a successful partnership and both congregations welcome its renewal.
The situation resulting from the readjustments finds three well maintained and comfortable church buildings. Cairngryffe Kirk is in the village of Carmichael, Libberton Kirk in Libberton village and Symington Kirk in Symington. There is a modern well equipped church hall at Symington which is well used by the congregation and the community. The congregation of Cairngryffe uses the Village Hall at Carmichael for church purposes while the Village Hall in Quothquan is used by the congregation of Libberton.
Services are held in each church on Sunday. Service times are 9-30am, and 11-00am and these are rotated on a three monthly basis. The 9-30am service is taken by the minister who then conducts one of the 11-00am services. The arrangements for the conducting of the other 11-00am service is in the hands of each respective Kirk Session. Services thus may be conducted by the Deacon, by invited clergy or by a group from within the congregation. Communion services are normally held in Cairngryffe and Symington on the first Sunday in March, June and November and in Libberton on the first Sunday in March and November or on the nearest convenient date.
A Kirk and Community newsletter - FOCUS is produced four times a year and circulated to all members. This has been in existence for several years in Cairngryffe and Symington and Libberton and Quothquan have indicated their willingness to be included in the future.
The total population of the area is around 2000 and the congregational rolls currently stand at 170 for Cairngryffe, 200 for Symington and 82 for Libberton. The population is fairly typical of rural central Scotland with a reducing number of people employed in agriculture and many employed in the service sector in Lanark and Biggar. As the area is scenically attractive and is conveniently linked to the motorway system with good major roads, many have chosen to settle here and to commute to Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond. A significant proportion of the population is retired and in Symington and Thankerton particularly, there are a number of people who are unemployed. Over the last two decades there has been considerable private housing development throughout the area although this has slowed in recent years. There is some local authority housing in each of the communities and some Scottish Housing Association provision in Symington and Thankerton. The local development plan envisages continued housing development in each of the existing communities.
Within the parish area, the main centres of population are Symington and Thankerton with smaller communities at Carmichael, Libberton, Pettinain, and Covington. There is a sub post office and mini-market in Symington and a small general store in Thankerton while Biggar (5 miles) and Lanark (7 miles) provide a wider range of shopping facilities. Public transport is limited to a bus service that runs from Lanark to Sanquhar via several small communities including Thankerton and Symington and another which runs from Biggar to Lanark from where more extended connections may be made. The Dumfries – Edinburgh bus service can be accessed in Biggar. There is a limited train service from Carstairs to Glasgow and Edinburgh and there is a regular train service from Lanark to Glasgow. As is common in rural communities, many people rely on private cars for transport. Both Glasgow and Edinburgh are accessible by car in around one hour.
There are three primary schools within the parish. Tinto Primary School at Symington has a roll of some 140 and was built in 1992 to replace three existing schools at Symington, Covington and Pettinain. The school serves Symington, Thankerton, Covington and Pettinain. Carmichael Primary School with a roll of 25 serves the community of Carmichael and the surrounding area and Libberton Primary School lying between Libberton and Quothquan has some 36 children and serves the communities of Libberton and Quothquan and around. Tinto Primary and Libberton Primary are included in the learning community centred on Biggar High School while Carmichael Primary is part of Lanark Grammar School’s learning community.
The communities sustain a wide range of recreational activities including bowling, football and badminton and there are several youth organisations including Guides, Brownies, Rainbows and Beavers most of whom meet in Symington, Although these are not strictly 'church' organisations, a close association with the congregation is maintained. Services involving the youth organisations are held in Symington on special occasions such as Thinking Day and Remembrance Sunday.
Social services and agencies such as a mobile bank and libraries serve the communities themselves. Greater provision however exists in Biggar and Lanark for medical, paramedical and dental services.
Cairngryffe Kirk is situated in the village of Carmichael, just to the east of the crossroads. Like Symington it is surrounded by its graveyard which is owned and maintained by South Lanarkshire Council.
The graveyard is enclosed by a vernacular turf topped wall, itself surrounded by mature beeches.
The Church, which is listed “B” was until the union and linkage of 1995, the Parish Church of Carmichael and has close links with the Carmichael family and estate, the gates of which lie some 200 metres away.
The original Carmichael church was founded at the beginning of the 12th century on a site within the estate about a mile south east of the present building and was dedicated to St Michael.
The present building dates from 1750 and incorporates an external stone stair and several gravestones moved from the original site. The church was extensively remodelled in 1904 to plans by Sir John Lorimer; two of the three lofts were removed and much handsome stained glass added. The ornamentation was such that the building became known as the "little cathedral of the Upper Ward" The ornamentation was added to by a new stained glass window in 1998 which reflects the way of life in this rural parish.
The present building seats approximately 150 on the ground floor -the remaining loft is accessible but seldom used. The furniture is predominantly oak on a tiled and parquet floor and stone walls. The Organ is relatively new and heating is electric, controlled by a modern, thermostat. There is a small vestry, toilet and vestibule. Several pews were removed a number of years ago and replaced by comfortable modern chairs which give greater flexibility of use. At this time a small Session room was created and this is used by the Sunday school. It holds 20 people and is ideal for Session meetings.
Several articles from the former pre union congregations remain in use notably the pulpit falls, rotated on a regular basis and Communion silver valued at a considerable sum and dating back, in some cases, to the seventeenth century. The building is well maintained and in good repair.
There is no church hall as such. The village hall is sited about 50 yards from the church may be used as required. The Everyoung Club meets in the village hall at Thankerton twice a month except in summer, while the Guild meets in the same hall once a month during the winter months.
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The church is situated at the end of Kirk Bauk which starts at the junction between Symington's Main Street and Abington Road. It is surrounded by the original graveyard with a modern extension of this lying to the west. Within the old graveyard is an 18th century watch house built to shelter those who were obliged to watch over the kirkyard to thwart grave robbers. This building, like the church itself, is grade B listed.
The church building is not specifically dated although records indicate that the original foundation can be linked to similar establishments in the area.
These were set up in the mid-12th century by monks from the Priory of Lesmahagow, an offshoot of the Abbey of Kelso. The present church is substantially 18th century and was originally rectangular in shape with a flat roof. The entrance of this building was in the south wall where the present pulpit is located. Sometime during the 18th century, extensive renovation took place with the construction of an additional wing to the north and a porch to the west. This has produced a T- shaped building with a curved apse at the east end - added probably about the same time. It has a ‘pepper-pot' belfry dated 1734.
The kirk was dedicated originally to St Ninian and was known as such until 1946. At this time a union took place with St. John's Kirk, the Free Church in Symington and Symington Church was established. For some 20 years it has been designated ’Symington Kirk'.
The church seats some 170 and is comfortably furnished with cushioned pine pews. The pews within the east section of the church were removed and replaced by individual chairs for choir and general use. This has become a useful area for meetings. The front area has been carpeted throughout and the pulpit, organ, lectern and communion table occupy a raised platform along the front. The lectern was recently gifted and constructed locally. A new font to replace an existing monumental stone font was dedicated in late 2000. This new font which was constructed to match the lectern was the gift of an anonymous donor and holds a decorated silver bowl which formed part of the previous font. The congregation marked the Millennium with the commissioning of a large wooden cross which has been hung above the west door. The organ, purchased some years ago from a church in Coatbridge, is electric, and has been upgraded with the installation of a new speaker cabinet. Two glass cases in the north wall house a collection of book board falls and matching Bible markers. These were made a number of years ago by members of the congregation and illustrate the seasons of the Christian year
The church is heated by a combination of electrically operated oil filled pipes and electric floor level heaters. The building is in a good condition overall and is regularly maintained and repaired as required.
The minister and kirk session use the small vestry for prayers of dedication before the service on Sunday. Meetings of the session and congregational board are held in the church itself as the vestry is too small for the purpose. There are currently 20 members of session and some 8 board members. The church has a talented and enthusiastic choir of some 26 members which leads praise each Sunday and which presents concerts in the church and around the area from time to time. The choir meets in the church on Wednesday evenings.
The hall situated some 50 metres to the south of the church opposite the modern part of the cemetery was gifted to the congregation in 1958 and is wholly owned by the congregation and administered by local trustees. It has been extensively modernised and redecorated and comprises a large hall with adjacent classroom and kitchen premises. It houses storage cupboards for use by the organisations. There is a ladies toilet and cloakroom with a large store cupboard at the entrance to the hall and a gents toilet off the classroom. Inside the hall there is another large cupboard. There is an electric heating system which has recently been renewed. The hall is used for congregational social functions and by SundayZone (Sunday school) and the Guild. Several local groups - Brownies, Guides, Badminton also use it during the winter. There is extensive parking adjacent to the hall and this was extended a few years ago along the south wall of the kirkyard.
More information can also be found at:-
Libberton & Quothquan Kirk
Libberton and Quothquan Church, or as known locally, ‘Libberton Church’, is situated in the hamlet of Libberton on the B7016 road 6 miles from Biggar. It is surrounded by its graveyard which is owned and maintained by South Lanarkshire Council. The B listed building was erected in 1812 and the interior and roof were extensively renovated in 1902.
The present parish of Libberton and Quothquan is a union of the two separate and independent parishes of Libberton and Quothquan which took place in 1669.
Quothquan was a small, ancient, horse-shoe shaped parish bounded in the north by the Standing Burn with the river Clyde to the west and Biggar parish to the east. Libberton Parish originally extended into the area of what is now the Parish of Carnwath. In 1185 the church of Carnwath was given to the Bishop of Glasgow by William de Somerville. The parish was then bounded by the Medwin Water in the north, the River Clyde to the west, the parish of Walston to the east and the Standing Burn to the south.
The present church building holds around 100 on the ground floor and 50 in the gallery. All seating is traditional pews. The organ is electric and was purchased in 2006. Heating is by electrical tubular heaters controlled by thermostat.
The pulpit is raised at the north end of the church with a raised and carpeted area surrounding it. This part also houses the organ, the communion table, font and lectern. There is a wireless speaker system installed.
There is a small vestry and toilet and the building is well maintained and in good repair. Only minor items were raised in the last quinquennial report and these have been addressed.
There is no church hall and all functions out-with the church are held in the village hall at Quothquan thereby maintaining a direct link between the two communities.
There are some 225 houses in the parish (20 families on the congregational roll live outside the parish). There is one primary school in the parish situated between Quothquan and Libberton. A new school building was constructed in 2015 and the school role is around 35. Children move from there to Biggar High School. In addition to the normal Sunday services, outdoor services have been held at the old Quothquan Church. A Harvest Supper, to which members of our linked partners are invited, is held each year in Quothquan Hall - the village hall, run by local residents. A Christmas lunch is also held here with all senior citizens in the parish receiving an invitation. A coffee morning is held fortnightly in a member’s house.
Although our church is small it has a very committed and friendly congregation who actively participate in all our projects – flower show, outdoor carol singing, candle light services and much else.