St Michael's and South Parish Church

(St Michael's Church)

St. Michael's Church, Dumfries
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

St. Michael's Church, Dumfries

The 'Mother Kirk' of Dumfries, St. Michael's Church is located at the junction of Brooms Road and St. Michael's Street. Comprising a red sandstone box, with a tower and spire, which stands prominently above the street, this is the third church to have occupied this location; the first was built more than 1000 years ago. The present building dates from 1741-46 and was constructed at a cost of just over £400. Ten pillars which still support the roof were retained from the previous church (c.1500). The construction coincided with the time of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and some of the lead that had been purchased to cover the roof was sold to make musket balls for Bonnie Prince Charlie's army which was visiting on its way north, having withdrawn from Derby. The interior was renovated in 1869 and again in 1881. It benefits from fine stained glass, a Willis organ (installed in 1890 and rebuilt 1933) and numerous memorial wall-plaques. A large clock in the North Gallery dates from 1758, while a silver plaque on the South Wall was presented by the Norwegian Forces whose Headquarters in Britain during World War II was in Dumfries and many of whom worshipped in St. Michael's. The church building was A-listed in 1961. The present congregation represents a merger in 1983 of South and Townhead Church (now closed) with St. Michael's church.

The poet Robert Burns (1759-96) worshipped here from 1791 until his death, although it is said he could not abide the minister and often attended the Burgher Kirk nearby. A brass plaque marks the site of his pew, which is now preserved in a local museum. His body lies in a mausoleum in the kirkyard, which is also A-listed and includes other interesting memorials, such as one to Rev. William Veitch (1640 - 1722), a Covenanter who later became Minister of the church. The Martyrs' Monument (1834) remembers the Covenanting cause and nearby there are other Covenanter graves.

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