Old Fordyce Church

The quaint village of Fordyce in north-east Scotland features one of the country’s most fascinating ancient ruined churches, offering insight into the history of the town and area. Referred to as the Old Fordyce Church, the building is dedicated to St. Talarican (also spelled St. Tarquin) who was the first bishop of the area way back in the first century.

The first written record mentioning Fordyce Church is a document confirming King Alexander III’s appointment of Andrew de Garentuly as minister of the church in 1272. The next official document mentioning the church was a 1351 charter signed by King David II declaring Fordyce Church to be a common church of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Aberdeen and therefore under the Cathedral’s jurisdiction.

Visitors to the Old Fordyce Church may find the way the remaining structures are placed rather confusing, but this is because these remaining buildings were originally appendages to a nave which was demolished many years ago. The church started out as a simple rectangular shape, similar to many churches of the time, without any appendages other than a porch, the remains of which form the lower parts of the bell-tower that was added later. The now roofless chapel was added to the south side of the nave by the builder of Fordyce Castle, Thomas Menzies, in 1516. The chapel was used at one time by the scholars of Fordyce School as a place for worship.

Fordyce Church came through the tumultuous times of the Reformation virtually unscathed, thanks primarily to the efforts of Gilbert Gardyne, the minister at the time and a sturdy supporter of the Protestant cause, and the church remained in use after this dramatic turning point in Scottish history. The bell tower was constructed above the entrance porch of the nave and the room above the porch was made into a prison. Today, this former prison is accessed by external stairs and is used for informative exhibits.

In the late 1700s, the Fordyce Church proved to be too small to accommodate the growing number of parishioners wanting to worship there. So a new church was built on the north side of the village, being completed in 1804, and parts of the old church were demolished, with the surviving sections standing much as they are seen today. The Old Fordyce Church has some superb examples of stonework, as well as ornate engraving and decorative trimmings, while burial aisles contain ornate tombs of noteworthy people, many of which are very well preserved. A number of graves with their tombstones are found in the church grounds telling a tale of the people who most likely once attended the church.

Fordyce is a charming village, quite different from the towns in this region of Scotland and well worth visiting. And a visit to Fordyce should definitely include the fascinating Old Fordyce Church.