Lesley Cumming, Cramond Kirk Volunteer
30 September 2022

Lesley Cumming, one of our wonderful volunteers, shares some thoughts on organising the latest Doors Open Days event at her local church.

I was apprehensive that we would get no visitors at Cramond Kirk for the 2022 Doors Open Day event.  Maybe people would have got out of the habit post-pandemic?

However I thought it was a good sign that the sun was shining and took a photo of our square sundial stone to prove it.  Our church garden volunteers had worked hard to provide late autumn colour in the flower beds and our Beadle had provided new wall fixings so the DoD banner didn’t flap in the wind. It’s the little details like that which matter!

Cramond Kirk
Photograph – Scotland’s Churches Trust Archive

And the people came.  Over the two days we had 84 visitors, most of whom wanted to chat as well as browse our display boards.  Quite a few were surprised by the size of the church.  I was very pleased that a good number of the visitors lived locally and took the opportunity to visit the Kirk for the first time.  We had fun with a few of the children, who climbed into the pulpit but were too little to see over the top.  We showed them a mosaic depicting the story of Jock Howieson, a poor resident at Cramond Brig who came to the aid of a stranger being attacked by robbers and found that he had rescued James V.  In gratitude the king granted him land.

“Everyone marvelled  at the fact that the dilapidated 1656 church, itself a replacement for a medieval structure, was rebuilt in less than a year in 1911-12.  How many man-hours did it take to construct the magnificent pitch-pine roof let alone put in all the fixtures and fittings?”

Other topics of conversation included the orientation of the church with the Communion Table at the south end, not the east; the fact that “The Skating Minister” of Raeburn fame was Rev Robert Walker, minister at Cramond from 1776-84; our four galleries, three of which – Cramond, Dalmeny and Barnton – were named for the local landowners or “heritors”, who were financially responsible for the Kirk until 1925 but had the privilege of private seating space; and the long, long  history of Christian worship on our site.

Church Interior.

Photograph by Ian S. Lees

I am a volunteer with Scotland Churches Trust’s church recording project and took the chance to display an SCT banner and talk about the project.  I hope folk didn’t mind when I whipped out my mobile phone to show them photos of the beautiful sampler we discovered at Oldhamstocks Church as well as the copy of the Act of Parliament in 1672 granting Oldhamstocks the right to hold fairs!

I didn’t lock the Kirk on Sunday afternoon and think “well that’s it for another year”. I need to look up the answers to some of the many questions we were asked. A very knowledgeable stained-glass enthusiast queried some of the received wisdom about our windows and is now, very kindly, undertaking some further research for me. 

My church recording experiences make me look at my own Kirk with fresh eyes.  I tidied away our brass offering plates before the Doors Open Days event but couldn’t resist turning them over and there was an inscription: the names of the people who had gifted the plates for the modern Kirk’s tercentenary in 1956. What was their connection to the Kirk?.  Are they buried in the churchyard?  I need to find out..!