Under the incumbency of the Rev Henry Fyfe it was decided to put into action, the much discussed plan, to build a new church. In 1890 it was agreed to build an entirely new church on a site, granted by Lord Saltoun, next to the handsome school and rectory. It was decided that the new building should be associated with the name and fame of the distinguished prelate whose incumbency had been so memorable in the history of the congregation and that the church should be known as “The Bishop Jolly Memorial Church.”
As well as generous donations from the town of Fraserburgh itself, subscriptions to build the church came from places as far afield as America and Canada. The architect was Mr John Kinross, A.R.S.A, well known as the person who restored Falkland Palace. The foundation stone was laid on 20th August, 1891 by Lord Saltoun, in the presence of the Bishop of Aberdeen and a large group of both clergy and laity. The Bishop Jolly Memorial Church, better known as St Peter’s, was consecrated on Sunday 3rd July 1892 by the Rt Revd Honourable Arthur Gascoigne Douglas, Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.
At that time the church consisted of the nave, the chancel and the vestry. This was built at a cost of £4000.00. To complete the church with the massive Scotch Tower required a further £1,600.00. The style of architecture is Norman with a strong Scottish influence. As the church is built in granite it does not lend itself to much decoration but its very simplicity gives it a natural beauty and dignity. The material used is the pink granite from the Corrennie Quarries.
The interior stonework, including the twelve pillars with their richly molded bases and capitals, is from the freestone quarries of Corsehill , Dumfriesshire. The stained glass window above the altar came from the church it was built to replace.
Episcopalians in Fraserburgh and throughout Scotland suffered greatly for their right to be Episcopalians during the period from 1718, with the coming of a statute, forbidding more than nine Episcopalians to meet unless they prayed for the Royal Family by name.
The chapel in Mid Street was burned down by Government Officers, as a reprisal, after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. Many records were lost but the church survived. Persecution ceased about 1760 and the Penal Laws came to an end in 1792. It was not until 1871 that complete freedom to worship was re-established.
The Episcopalians who worship in St Peter’s today should be forever grateful to those who suffered persecution on their behalf.
THE CONNECTION OF THE FRASERS OF PHILORTH, LORDS SALTOUN WITH THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
By Lady Saltoun
The connection of the family with the Episcopal Church is now difficult to trace, principally because all the church records prior to that time were lost when the first St. Peter’s Church in Mid Street was burnt by Lord Ancrum and his troops in 1746, along with many other Episcopal Churches in Scotland; and this in spite of the facts that the people of Fraserburgh had not taken any active part in the 1745 rebellion, and that he himself was closely related to Lord Saltoun.
I do not know at what date the family embraced the redeformed church. The 10th Lord Saltoun signed the Covenant in 1638, and his appearance in his portrait, wearing a plain neckband and a skullcap suggests that he was of the Presbyterian faith. But the family had traditionally always been loyal supporters of the crowned King, and I presume the execution of King Charles 1st in 1649 was more than he could swallow, and in 1651 he fought for King Charles II at the battle of Worcester, and nearly lost his life in doing so. He also gave him money when requested to do so when King Charles was very impoverished before the Restoration. The Episcopal Church, which had been the established Church in Scotland, was disestablished in 1689, and a long battle ensued between the Presbyterians and the Piskies as to who was to have theParishChurch. When the Presbyterians won, the Episcopalians built thefirst St. Peter’s. After it was burnt, legislation was passed forbidding more than 5 people to assemble in any room for the purpose of worship unless they were all one family. The Rector’s House, latterly called Middleburgh Farmhouse, was adapted and consisted of a central room with a lot of small rooms opening off it. The parson conducted a kind of non-stop service from the main room, and a relay of worshipers occupied the surrounding rooms. In 1750, Lady Saltoun had a sitting in room 1. Lord Saltoun’s name does not appear. Presumably he attended the Kirk, whether from conviction or because he deemed it wise to support the established Church. Whatever his leanings, he was the superior of the burgh, and the other heritors had to obtain permission from him for any improvements they wished to make to their houses, Churches etc. As my father said “it was not the way to Lord Saltoun’s heart to harry the Lady in Middleburgh”. I think a succession of Lords Saltoun were very tolerant as far as religion was concerned, and tried to make sure the clergy they appointed were too. In 1788 The Rev. Mr Jolly, later Bishop Jolly, was appointed Rector, and was determined to rebuild St. Peter’s Church, which by 1796 he was able to do. He was someone who cared nothing for his clothes and appearance, which was very old fashioned to say the least, and his fellow Bishops used to laugh at him. When King George IV visited Edinburgh, the Bishops were summoned to meet him; everyone was worried lest he appear in his usual terrible old wig and shock the King, so Lord Saltoun presented him with a very smart new wig, which was much admired. The church continued in the Mid St. building until 1891, when the foundation stone of the present church was laid by Lord Saltoun (my grandfather), who was a regular attender as long as he was resident at Philorth. He did not believe in long sermons and used to open his watch and lay it on the ledge in front of him at the beginning of the sermon. When 10 minutes were up, he picked up his watch and closed it with a loud snap and put it back in his pocket. If the Preacher did not take the hint, he would put his foot out into the aisle and thump regularly and loudly with it until the Preacher stopped. How often I have been tempted to do just that! The patronage of the living was shared by Lord Saltoun and the Bishop, as it still is.
A History of St Peter’s by David Rennie
Episcopalism was disestablished in 1689. In 1721 Episcopal rector William Swan set up an Episcopal meeting house in Mid Street, which became the site of the St Peter’s Episcopal Church.
In 1746 thefirst StPeter’s was burned to the ground on the orders of William, Duke of Cumberland.
Penal laws were passed and vigorous enforced prohibiting Episcopalians from worship or assembling in greater numbers than 4. The law was to the effect that any clergyman found conducting illegal services got for a first offence six months, and for the second transportation for life.
Rector William Walker house at Middleburgh was partitioned into a number of small compartments, so the occupants of different small rooms could distinctly hear him.
In 1788 Alexander Jolly was appointed Rector and he also became Bishop of Moray in 1796, by this time St Peter’s in Mid Street had been rebuilt.
During Mr Pressley’s time as Rector an organ was purchased to assist in the service of praise in the church, and he was thus a pioneer of instrumental music in the Fraserburgh churches.
In 1890 it was resolved to build a new church, on a new site granted by Lord Saltoun, adjoining the rectory. It was also decided it that should be known as the “Bishop Jolly Memorial Church”. A building committee was formed and Mr John Kinross A.R.S.A was appointed to prepare the plans.
On 20th August 1891 Mr James Cardno, Senior Church Warden presented a silver trowel to Lord Saltoun and requested him to proceed with the laying of the foundation stone, The stone bears the following inscription “To the Glory of God and in memory of his faithful servant Alexander Jolly – August 20th 1891.
The cost of building the Nave, Chancel and Vestry was £4,000 and the church could seat about 400 to 500. The organ was rebuilt and doubled in size by Wadsworths of Manchester. However, at this time not enough money was available for the building of the tower.
The Church was consecrated by the Bishop on 31st August 1892. The old church in Mid Street was sold to the newly formed West United Free Church (later St Andrew’s Church) for £1,200.
Finally in December 1909 the Tower was built at a cost of £1,500 and was dedicated by the Bishop, also that day the new rector Mr F W S le Lievre was inducted. The Bishop also dedicated the Chancel Screen, which was presented by Mr James Blackhall, Union Bank. The Bishop’s Chair and Credence Table was presented by Sir George and Lady Mary Anderson.