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Pitsligo Parish Church

A redundant church building located at Peathill (Aberdeenshire), ¾ mile (1.2 km) south of Rosehearty. Built in 1890, to the designs of Aberdeen architect A. Marshall Mackenzie (1847 - 1933), the building contains the remarkable Pitsligo Pew, brought from the original Pitsligo parish church which lies adjacent. This richly carved set of pews and canopy formed a Laird's Loft. The church closed in 1997 when the congregation moved to Rosehearty Church, a former United Presbyterian Church dating from 1882. Pitsligo is now owned by the Pitsligo Castle Trust, with the intention of developing it as a Jacobite history centre.

The old Pitsligo Parish Church, now Category A-listed, was built c.1634 to serve a new parish which had split from Aberdour the previous year. The split had come about after the minister of Aberdour had railed against "the three Pits of Hell: Pittulie, Pittendrum and Pitsligo" in a sermon, so insulting Alexander Forbes, the newly created Lord Pitsligo, that he stormed out resolving to build his own church.

The church is now roofless and partially ruined. The west gable is complete and is still surmounted by an elaborate birdcage bellcote which is said to have been imported from Holland and assembled in the courtyard of Pitsligo Castle. The south aisle served as the burial vault for the Forbes of Pitsligo between 1636 to 1781.

The first preacher here was the noted Covenanter Andrew Cant (1584 - 1663). A later minister was William Mercer, whose son General Hugh Mercer (1726-77) became a hero of the American Revolution and friend of George Washington.


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