Historic Scone church to close its doors
A historic church in Perthshire is to close its doors after more than 200 years of worship, it has emerged.
The closure of Scone Old Kirk comes after the Church of Scotland decided to unite the churches of Scone Old, Scone New church and nearby St Martins.
The Church of Scotland has opted to use Scone New church, a B-listed building, dating back to 1887 as the place of worship for the united congregations.
Scone Old Kirk was originally built in 1286 near Scone Palace.
It was moved, stone by stone, in 1805, to become the first building of the village of New Scone, to identify it from its predecessor near Scone Palace, of Old Scone.
The historic building, near the gateway to the village, is surrounded by a graveyard that contains a memorial to the botanist David Douglas.
But the closure decision has been met with concern by some members of the congregation at Scone Old church.
One kirk member said: "It is very sad news.
"We have, as yet, been given no reasons for the Church of Scotland decision to opt for Scone New rather than to preserve Scone Old in a united charge.
"It will be the end of an era when the kirk closes. Naturally many parishioners are very upset at the decision.
"It has come as a huge shock."
Members of the three churches involved are still digesting the news, following the verdict of the Church of Scotland arbitration panel.
A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said: "The panel of arbiters decided that Scone New should be the place of worship for the united congregation.
"As all buildings are being retained for determination of use by the united congregation, the panel is hopeful that the obvious talents, energy and commitment within both churches will be used to determine a creative and respectful alternative use for the sanctuary in Scone Old.
"We appreciate people will have strong feelings on the matter, and both session clerks have been sent a document explaining the decision."
It is understood that the Church of Scotland is faced with reducing the number of charges due to a shortage of both ministers and money.
Jim Nicol, clerk to the board at the 400-seat Scone Old Parish Church, said mothballing "would do no-one any good", but the kirk was not an obvious candidate to turn into a home or flats.
He said: "It was always going to be a difficult choice for the panel.
"Scone Old Parish Church has its history, it was moved stone by stone from Scone Estate and rebuilt in the village of New Scone.
"It has important stained glass windows commemorating former ministers and the memorial to David Douglas, the famous plant hunter who was born and raised in Scone and worked on the Scone Estate before becoming a collector for the Royal Society.
"But the decision is final and the question is where do we go now.
"It is up to the congregations to decide what to do with Scone Old Parish Church."