Historic Fife kirk set for atmospheric Watchnight Service

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Churches across Kirkcaldy district are preparing to host Watchnight services on Christmas Eve.

One of the most atmospheric places to be part of the traditional service is surely the historic Auchtertool Kirk.

It is one of a number of kirks facing an uncertain lough-term future as the Church of Scotland looks to reduce its footprint in the Kingdom.

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Auchtertool’s kirk is an ancient place of worship with nearly 1000 years of history attached to it.

Auchtertool Kirk hosts an atmospheric Watchnight ServiceAuchtertool Kirk hosts an atmospheric Watchnight Service
Auchtertool Kirk hosts an atmospheric Watchnight Service

“It is an experience to sit in a candlelit atmospheric Auchtertool Kirk with the east wind howling outside in the black night and the single church bell peeling across the hill,” said a spokeswoman. “There is a real feeling of connection with its history and the people of past Auchtertool.”

That history can be traced back to 1178 when Pope Alexander III made the “present of Auchtertule” to the prior of Incholm.

Christmas 1315 saw the first festive season after Robert The Bruce’s victory at Bannockburn . Living at Halyards Palace was William St Clair, the Bishop of Dunkeld, with his 60 fighting men. St Clair was know as the “Fectin Bishop” having slain over 500 Englishmen at the Battle of Fordell.

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Christmas 1628 - between 1617 and 1627, the church was repaired and enlarged by William Forbes. His shield is reproduced in the Stevenson aisle, and it is also sculpted outside high on the east gable.

Christmas 1892 - possibly the first warm Christmas after Rev William Stevenson supervised the extension of the church on the north side. He removed galleries, cleaned the interiors, reconstructed seats and heating via hot water pipes. The following year he commissioned a pipe organ

Christmas 1914-18 and 1940-45 - all the names of the men who died from the parish in World War One are remembered in a stained glass window, Auchtertool’s only war memorial. The names of those who died in World War Two are carved on the pages of a stone book

directly below the window

The watchnight service by candlelight starts at 11:30pm with hot drinks and mince pies from 11:00pm. It will be dark and windy - wrap up warm and bring a torch.