Strichen  & Tyrie Parish Church, High Street, Strichen, Aberdeenshire AB43 6SQ Tel: 01771 637365   E-mail: strichen_tyrie@talktalk.net

Strichen Church History
Strichen is one of the earliest districts in Buchan, for which a charter exists. The area,  augmented by some Rathen and Philorth lands, dating from early in the 13th century, became a parish on its own by Act of Parliament in 1633.  Earlier, in 1620, Thomas Fraser, proprietor of the district, commissioned the building of a church and family burial aisle on the sandy eminence overlooking the west bank of the River Ugie.  The site was not far from his home, Newton, and afforded a wonderful view of the massive expanse of the heather-clad hill of Mormond.  It may seem strange to us now that the landowner was solely responsible for meeting the cost of building the church and also for providing the minister's stipend: however it must be stated that the laird was well able to do this out of the rents he collected from the farms and feu duties from everyone who lived on his land.  There were collections taken at church services, but they found  their way into a box for the poor of the parish (like the double-lock oak chest dated 1757 which stands in the present church vestibule).  In 1764 the Honourable Alexander Fraser, Lord Strichen, a judge of the Court of Session, the great grandson of Thomas Fraser, founded Mormond Village, attracting an influx of tradesmen, manufacturers and other industrious people, of all denominations.  The village was renamed 'Strichen' about 1850 (one flat gravestone bears the original name and gives the date 1842).

With the resultant increase in population, there was built in 1799, to the south of the original church, the more commodious St Andrew's with East and West doors, a vast balcony and a belfry in which was hung the bell of the first church, which continued to call to worship until one summer Sunday morning, when, with Mr Charles Hendry's hand on the rope, it crashed down, fortunately slithering to rest on the shoulder of the building.  Retrieved by a slater, the heavy bronze bell rests on a stand in the village church, date and maker clearly visible: 'Peter Ter Horst, Deventer, 1633'.  All that remained of the original church was the Laird's Aisle.  In 1988, this building, over the years, completely overgrown with ivy, was re-roofed, refurbished and an identifying plaque added.  St Andrew's, with its manse and glebe some distance away, continued over the years as the parish church, served in turn by seven ministers, as the original church had been.

The laird last exercised his right to present a minister to the congregation in 1806.   Lay patronage giving way to choice by the members under the Presbyterian system of rule by elders.  However, one hundred years later the Rev. Richard Goodwillie won his contention that the laird should provide extra ground for extension of the churchyard in a celebrated case at the Court of Session.

Disputes concerning the relation between church and state, the powers of church courts and the rights of members of congregations still led to divisions in the Church, the  most serious of which was the Disruption in 1843, when a goodly number of ministers and elders left the Established Church to set up the Free Church.  No trace remains of Strichen's first Free Church building in the grounds of the property known as 'The Yetts' which continued as the Free Church Manse after the congregation funded the building of the North Church in 1893.

In 1929 came the decision of the Free Church to reunite with the Established Church, though the Reunion in Strichen came only in 1932 after the sudden death of the Rev Charles McGlashan, the parish church minister.  Ministers, among them the Free Church encumbent, were invited to apply for the vacant charge, the Aul' Kirk united with the Free, now known as Strichen Parish Church.  Voting took place and the Rev W. J. A. Calder of the North Church was accepted, not without considerable friction, as the minister of the united charge.   He and his family gladly agreed to move to St Andrew's Manse where lighting was by paraffin lamp; electricity, be it said, was not to be put in till his successors came.  One memorable innovation of his was the appearance of a string orchestra to lead the praise at the evening service, and even of a soloist; others were the Girls' Association and the Men's Club.  St Andrew's continued as the venue for the morning service, the North Church for evening worship.  To cope with the larger number of members, Presbytery gave a grant for extending the North Church Hall; this, in the years 1980-1994, enabled 120 people per evening to attend the Church Drama Club's productions, among them Anne Frank's Diary and Gavin Greig's Doric classics, Mains's Wooin' and Mains Again.  In 1953, after 19 years in the united charge, Mr Calder, he and his family much loved and respected, retired to Crieff.  In Mr Calder's memory an oak minister's and two elders' chairs were donated by the congregation in 1961.

Apart from that of the Rev F. G. McLaren who held the charge from 1960 to 1975, short term ministries have been Strichen's lot. The Rev K. G. Ogilvie had the difficult job of replacing the well-loved Mr Calder and left after five years for Auchterderran. The Rev. R.C. Wotherspoon, who, with Mr R. Innes, ran a Youth Club for a time, and whose wife started the Young woman's Group, remained for four years before Glasgow Castlemilk called him.

The Rev Brian Bain, who in 1984 led a pilgrimage from the North East to the Holy Land, moved after five years to Methven in Perthshire.  It was his father-in-law, the Rev Adrian H. Stephen, who founded the Church Drama Club and who was ably succeeded by Mrs Elizabeth Copp. The Rev James L. Wilson, during whose seven year ministry fell the Centenary of our present church building, presided, and, together with members, helped in the practical work of its refurbishment before leaving for Dundee Trinity.  Each of these ministers made his contribution to Strichen in his own individual way; each  is enshrined in the memories of the people.

In 1961 St Andrew's Church was closed for good and in 1975 was bought from the General Trustees by the late Mr Alexander Fowlie, farmer elder, who stripped out interior woodwork and then generously gifted the listed building to the District Council who have boarded up the windows. Previously the plaques commemorating the Revs Goodwillie and McGlashan were removed; the War Memorial was carefully dismantled and installed in the vestibule of the village church, and rededicated.  Nearby are treasured relics, old pewter Communion vessels, tokens and an hour glass.

Over the years Strichen Church has gratefully received many bequests, gifts of money, property and useful items like a brass bookrest, an amplification system, an inductive loop for the hard of hearing, a vestry bookcase and a pulpit fall and bookmark.  Two more matching elders' chairs and an oak lectern in memory of Charles Sleigh LLD, estate factor and County Education Convener and his wife Agnes, were gifted in 1964 by their son Jack and daughter-in-law Helen, whose parents, James and Margaret Davidson, Aberdeen, are likewise remembered.  One very generous benefractice, Mrs Charlotte Young, the wife of a local banker, presented, in 1919, the impressive St Andrew's War Memorial.  In 1925 she also gifted two areas of woodland and three fields, which, along with the adjoining Glebe, are let for grazing.  The woods were cut down and replanted in 1960 with Norway Spruce.  Two other ladies, the Misses Annie and Jeannie King, were also very generous.  In 1960, after her sister's death, Jeannie was responsible, jointly with Mrs Asher the organist, for installing the pipe organ obtained on the closure of the Middle Kirk in New Deer, and electrically blown, unlike the old one, which, after the beadle gave up, a whole succession of young people used to pump by hand.  Jeannie King died in 1961, and the Church learned that the sisters had bequeathed their house, Kingsville, for use as the manse, together with a sum of money.  As Mr McLaren preferred to remain in the old manse, and as the church was requiring an organist, it was decided to advertise, offering the tenancy of Kingsville as an incentive.  This was how the church secured the services of Mr Walter Hambock, who had survived imprisonment in a German Concentration Camp.  Walter and his Scots wife Helen occupied Kingsville for five years and were succeeded by organist John and Mrs Maclean.  On Mr McLaren's retirement in 1975, the old manse was sold and Kingsville was prepared for the occupancy of the Rev H. C. Wotherspoon, his wife Margaret and family.  A new extension, study with bedroom above, was completed while they were actually staying in the manse.  When the Reverend Stephen A. Blakey came in 1994 the outhouse to the left of the front door was made into a modern office for the secretary, complete with computers, photo-copier, filing cabinets and telephone.

The story of Strichen Church must give special mention to service overseas:  Miss Alicia Bandeen, daughter of a former Reader, the late Robert Bandeen served as a missionary nurse in Nigeria and in Aden, and gives the following account of her work: "I sailed from Liverpool in September 1963.  I worked in a mission hospital in the Eastern Region but my main love and interests were the clinics we set up in remote villages in a 20 mile radius of the hospital.   In 1967 the Biafran Civil War started.  At that time, Alexis, my sister, was with me doing valuable work in the leprosy settlement.  As the war progressed the hospitals were evacuated and we were working in very primitive conditions with the refugees.  There was so much suffering, deprivation and starvation.  There was little else we could do but hand out food and medicines to the hundreds who gathered every day.   I came home the day the war ended on 10th January 1970.  In September I was asked to go to Aden.   Again it was rural health work (clinics and home visits).  My base was the edge of the desert with no doctor around for hundreds of miles.  I came home in 1972".   More recently MaIcolm  Blakey, the son of the Reverend Stephen A. Blakey, former minister of Strichen and Tyrie, spent six  months with Jackie Pullinger, working among drug addicts in Hong Kong.

In 1993, four commemorative plaques were resited in the vestibule, and much work, some of it voluntary, was carried out on both the inside and the outside of the church for the Centenary of the building on 12th September.  On Sunday 6th June, during his visit to Buchan Presbytery, the Rev J. L. Weatherhead, Moderator of the General Assembly marked the Centenary by preaching and presenting long service certificates to seven elders.  On the actual date, Sunday 12th September, the Centenary was commemorated with special services at which former ministers took part, and to which the Rev W J P Calder's elder daughter came with her husband.  A celebratory hotel lunch preceded a visit to an exhibition set up in the church hall, and a further service, this time In the Buchan Doric, was held in the evening.

In 1995, on the retiral of the Rev Charles J. Birnie, the Rev Stephen A. Blakey who had previously been inducted to Strichen on the 22nd September 1994, became minister of the new linked charge of Strichen with Tyrie.  In November 2002, with ministerial vacancies at both New Pitsligo and Strichen linked with Tyrie, Strichen Church entered into a union with Tyrie Church becoming the Parish of Strichen and Tyrie.

During the vacancy, which lasted from the departure of the Reverend Stephen A. Blakey in 1999 until September 2004, the spiritual and pastoral care of Strichen and Tyrie Parish was very ably looked after by locum minister the Reverend Morris Dutch from February to November 2000, and subsequently locum minister the Reverend George Noble, a native of Inverallochy.  The Reverend Noble had previously been minister to a Motherwell parish for 30 years.

The Reverend Doctor Iain Macnee assumed the charge in 2006 until his retirement in April 2011.  He had previously been minister to the parish of Canisbay, Wick, and numbered the Queen Mother (now deceased) and the Prince of Wales in his congregation, when in residence at the Castle of Mey.
Currently the parish is being looked after by Interim Moderator, the Reverend Paul Read, minister to New Deer and Maud with Mr Stephen Hay from Aberchirder covering pulpit supply and carrying out pastoral work.