12th century Lennel Kirk restoration plan outlined

Lennel Kirk
Lennel Kirk

Lennel Kirk stands somewhat forlornly in the middle of Lennel churchyard, its condition so poor that members of the public cannot go into it.

However, a team of local volunteer historians hope to change all that and hope to repair the 12th century kirk at a cost of around £100,000.

Built in around 1120 as part of a regional pattern of churches and abbeys, Lennel Kirk is Listed B but it is believed that Historic Scotland may be looking at having it elevated to Scheduled and Ancient Monument status.

The kirk is medieval, but according to local enthusiast Gerald Tait: “A visit to the Lennel Kirk by Scottish Borders Council’s archaeologist (Chris Bowles) suggested to him that archaeological works could be very interesting and below the site could be Anglo-Saxon stones.

“Lennel Kirk and kirkyard has stories to tell of body-snatching, mortsafes and a morthouse.

“Through Historic Scotland help and Scottish Borders Council’s permission, the kirk has received some care, but is not yet stabilised or repaired, with ivy cut back and poisoned, a bat surveyor content that our work on the site is compliant and general tidying of the area,” added Gerald

“The site has ‘grey’ ownership and is potentially dangerous so the sooner we progress the project, the better.”

Ownership has been in doubt since the late 19th century and Registers of Scotland have not been able to prove it to any degree, although Gerald believes that it points towards Scottish Borders Council. The kirk stands in the middle of the cemetery owned by SBC and there is a dilapidated interpretation board with the council’s logo on it.

The team undertaking the project recognise that the council is unlikely to want to take responsibility for the kirk and believe that a community transfer would secure its future.

Coldstream Community Trust will apply for and manage a Heritage Lottery Fund start up grant of up to £10,000, but is unwilling to take ownership of the kirk in the future.

To establish the level of local interest in preserving Lennel Kirk and establishing a community trust to take responsibility, a public meeting is being held in Coldstream Community Centre on Thursday, May 28, at 7.30pm.