The Doric Columns
The Monasteries ~
The 2 most celebrated Orders were the Augustinian canons, who followed the rule of St Augustine; and the Benedictine Monks, who adopted that of St Benedict. Each of these embraced several species, whose names were derived from their founder, the place where they took their rise, their dress, or some other circumstance. The Augustinians comprehended the Regular Canons of St Augustine, the Premonstratensians, the Trinitarians or Red Friars, the Dominicans or Black Friars, and the Canons of St Anthony. The Benedictines included those of Marmoutier, styled Black Monks; of Cluny; and of Tiron ; the Cistercians, or White Monks ; and the Monks of Vallis-caulium. There were also the Carmelites, or White Friars ; the Franciscans, or Grey Friars ; the Carthusians, and others. Of these numerous Orders, most had ample endowments for their maintenance. Such were termed Rented Religious. The Dominicans, Carmelites, and Franciscans, who subsisted chiefly on alms, were called Mendicant or Begging Friars. The greater houses were styled Abbeys; the lesser Priories : presided over by an Abbot and Prior respectively.
Trinitarians, Blackfriars, Carmelites and Greyfriars
The 1st mention of Holy Trinity was in 1273 when Friar Laurence of Dalery and members of Holy Trinity were witnesses to the confirmation charter of the grant of land called the 'madderyard in the Green' to the Carmelites by Thomas le Bouer, Burgess of Aberdeen. Since this was a confirmation grant, it was likely that the original gift was given some years prior to 1273 and that Holy Trinity had been established for some time (if Holy Trinity were indeed witnesses to the original charter, as well as to the later confirmation charter).
It has also been claimed that the Trinitarian Friary was established some time between 1186 x 1214. However, the early date of 1186 also seems unlikely as the order of Trinitarians were not founded until late 1189. If the supposed story of two friars of the order being sent to Scotland by Innocent III in order to establish a house in Aberdeen is to be believed, it was likely that the friary was founded between 1198 and 1216.
The house was said to be founded by King William I and Queen Ermegard in order for the Trinitarians to support poor pilgrims and to help ransom captives in the Holy Land. (This would not be surprising as the 3rd Crusade began in c. 1187 and ended in c. 1197). An unreliable date of c. 1211 has been suggested as its date of foundation because King William was said to have gifted his royal residence to the Friary at this time. In addition, he also granted the lands of Banchory, Coway, Merelley with fishing on the Dee and Don, and the Mills of Skerthar, Rothenny, Tullifully and Manimuch in the same year. If the date of foundation can be placed at c. 1211 with the gift of King William and the coming of the Friars sent by Innocent III, this would make Holy Trinity the earliest establishment of a Friary in Aberdeen.
Land, however, was used not only for the maintenance of the brothers of the house, but could also be leased out for revenues. These included lands in the Green, Shiprow, Guestrow, Fittie, Ferryhill, Castlehill, the Netherkirkgate, Gallowgate and Huxter Raw - which were given by a number of benefactors.
There are no visible remains of the Friary and from what information that we have, we know that the buildings of the Friary and Chapel were restored and a gateway built for the use of the Trades Hospital. The Gateway was taken down some time during the 1840s and 1850s when the Hospital and Chapel were removed to make way for the building of Guild Street and Exchange Street. In 1857 when removing the last of the buildings, human remains, small finds and extensive foundations were found which were believed to relate to the Friary and possibly King Williams's Palace (Bain, Incorporated Trades, 1745).
Trinitarians or Redfriars ~ 1211
These were mendicant friars, so named because they put themselves under the patronage of the Holy Trinity.
The object of their Order was the rescue of captives from
the pirates of Morocco, and their official designation was: - " Ordo Sanctae
Trinitatis et Captoruin," the Order of the Holy Trinity and of the
Order was instituted by Pope Innocent III. in 1197 under the rule of the
Friars. They wore a white robe, on the breast of which there was a cross with
four equal swallow-tailed arms, divided longitudinally into two halves,
alternately red and blue. They collected money to ransom captives taken by
Barbary and Morocco pirates, and probably they had better means than other
persons of knowing when and where there were captives from near their
Monasteries. The Trinitarians were brought to Aberdeen by William the Lion in
1211, and settled close to what was the harbour at the time. The place assigned
to the Trinitarians was on the west side of Market Street and on the
of Guild Street, then the bed of the Denburn. The tide at that time came far up
burn, and Gordon's chart shows a creek or small harbour in the angle between
Market Street and Trinity Quay, faced with a wall. It is usually said that
William gave the Trinitarians a residence which he occupied himself when he came
to Aberdeen. It appears, however, that he had a residence in Aberdeen after the
settlement of the Trinitarians. The Church of the Monastery was a long building,
probably exactly where the later but now disused Trinity Church stands, and west
of it there was a large garden or enclosure surrounded by a wall. The houses of
the Trinitarians were denominated hospitals, and the title of one of the missing
charters in Robertson's " Index ": - "Carta Hospitalis de Aberden," Charter of
the Hospital of Aberden, probably refers to a gift of land to Trinity Friars
Monastery in Aberdeen in 1296. It would have been fatal to their usefulness to
accumulate wealth, but they received some bequests of annuities. One was a grant
of ten merks annually from the island of Stroma, lying off John o' Groat's
House. This was given by the Earl of Caithness, and it seems likely that this
bequest had been given in gratitude for the services of the Trinitarians to some
i Music School
The Trinitarians or Redfriars were one of Four Orders of Friars in medieval Aberdeen, two of which were based in the Green (the other being the Carmelites, or Whitefriars. Friars are members of a religious order who live by strict rules in large urban populations in order to minister to the needs of the poor. The Redfriars’ primary duty was to raise money to pay ransoms demanded on Christians taken hostage either on pilgrimage, trade or crusade to the Holy Land. It has been said that their Friary was founded in 1211 by King William the Lion, who gifted to them his ‘palace’ in the Green. Whilst there is no evidence to back this up it is quite likely that the Redfriars had been in the Green since the 13th century. Although Friars and Friaries were not supposed to own land or be wealthy, they did establish very close relations with some of the prominent and important families in the town, including the powerful Menzies of Pitfodels family who dominated Burgh politics from the 15th century onwards. By these means the Trinitarians did become a rich institution with considerable interest in lands in and around Aberdeen, in particular in the Ferryhill area. The Friary came to an end at the Reformation, which reached Aberdeen in January 1560. The City Council’s records reveal that mobs came into the town from Angus and Mearns and attacked the Friary. It is said that the Friary was burned to the ground and that one Friar died during the attack. A portrait of the alleged martyr, with the inscription ‘Saint Francis of Aberdeen. Martyred, 4th December, 1559’ survives in a church in Majorca. There is no evidence to back this story up and it seems that the Reformation in Aberdeen was a largely peaceful affair. There is no record of any deaths as a direct result. The Friary buildings were still standing in 1661, when the first map of the town was drawn and no later documents show that the Friary had been burned. The fate of the individual Friars is less clear: many of them were simply pensioned off by the government, some converted to Protestantism and some remained Catholic but left for the Continent
The Old Trades Hall in the Shiprow, Aberdeen. c.1850 This area, at the southern end of the Shiprow, was the site of the Monastery of the Trinity Friars until 1559 when it was burnt to the ground by Protestant Reformers. In 1631, having purchased the lands, Dr William Guild, gifted their old chapel and other buildings to be a hospital and meeting house for the seven Aberdeen Incorporated Trades. These were Hammermen, Bakers, Wrights and Coopers, Tailors, Shoemakers, Weavers, Fleshers. William Guild was one of Aberdeen's ministers and afterwards became Principal of Kings College. The Chapel became an Episcopal Church until 1794 when it was removed . The Church was vacated in 1843, when the congregation joined the Free Church, and was then sold and eventually became the Alhambra Music Hall until 1902. On the right was the Trades or Trinity Hall - often known as the Trinity Hall. It had a projecting wing tower and corbelled angle turret, and was demolished around 1857 for Railway development. The Trades had already moved into their new premises Trinity Hall in Union Street in 1846.
The old church of the Redfriars was pulled down in the 1790s and replaced by a new one. At the end of 1793 the Town Council appointed Reverend George Gordon to the vacant East Church of St Nicholas. Many of the parishioners protested vigorously about both the choice of candidate and the mode of election. When they were ignored they felt called upon to leave the congregation and set up their own place of worship. The church, along with a session house and manse, was built at a total cost of £2000, raised almost entirely through the efforts of those who had walked out of the East Church of St Nicholas. On Sunday 27 April 1794, the church was opened for public worship by Dr Cruden, minister of St Fittick’s Church at the Bay of Nigg. The first minister of the church was the Reverend Robert Doig. By 1825, the weekly attendance averaged about 1200, with a membership, which exceeded 1400, scattered in all parts of the city. The minister at that time, the Reverend David Simpson, was highly respected and had a tendency to take strong attitudes on certain subjects. It was said of him that he was a ‘ringleader among the teetotallers who infest the town’. Simpson’s sympathies lay very clearly with the Disruption in 1843, when 450 ministers of the Church of Scotland broke away to form the Free Church of Scotland, the main contention being over the right of a wealthy patron to appoint the minister of his choice to a church. After the formation of the Free Church Mr Simpson preached his last sermon at Trinity Church on 11 June 1843, which incited the congregation to leave with him: almost all of them did. Ultimately the church buildings were sold in 1881, converted and opened as the Alhambra Music Hall, a sort of rival to the nearby Her Majesty’s later Tivoli theatre. Not only was the Alhambra one of several locations in Aberdeen where the public could experience the delights of the electro-graphic cinematograph, but it was also the winter quarters for the small zoo opened by John Sinclair in 1906, which boasted the ‘finest collection of lions, bears, wolves and hyenas in the north of Scotland’.
In 1606 the Town Council granted a shipbuilder permission to build a ship in Trinity Churchyard, then lying unenclosed. It had been a very convenient spot for getting the ship into the water after she was built. In making excavations in 1906 for the foundation of a house at the corner of Market Street a coffin was met with in one place and some of the timbers of a ship in another. The Trinity Convent is commemorated by the name Trinity Quay, which once extended up Guild Street as far as the convent ground had gone.
The Trinity Monastery and all its belongings were bought by Dr William Guild, one of the town's ministers, and presented by him in 1633 to the Incorporated Trades. When the Church of St Nicholas became ruinous and was deserted by its congregation they were accommodated in Trinity Church till the West Church was built. It continued, however, to be used as a church, and having itself become ruinous it was taken down in 1794 and rebuilt.
To King David also is ascribed the introduction into Scotland of the Military Orders - the Templars and Knights of St John - instituted for the defence of the Temple of Jerusalem against the infidels, and for the entertainment of pilgrims. The principal house of the former order was at Temple in Midlothian, and that of the latter at Torphichen. The Templars were suppressed by the Pope in 1312, and their possessions, which were numerous in this country, were bestowed on the Knights of St John. The Pope conferred on the Templars the right to wear a red cross on their white mantles, which symbolised their willingness to suffer martyrdom in defending the Holy Land against the infidel.
Templars were 1 of 3 Religious Military Orders founded after the First
Crusade, (1096-99). They designated themselves the: - "Poor Company of Soldiers
of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon." The main design of the
the Order was the armed protection of the pilgrims who flocked to Jerusalem
after the 1st Crusade to visit the tomb of Christ and other holy places. After
the fall of Jerusalem a Latin Kingdom was established, with Godfrey as King and
a Mosque built on the site of Solomon's Temple on Mount Moriah for his palace.
This Mosque was usually called the Temple of Solomon by the Christians in
Jerusalem, and as quarters in it were given to the new Order, they were styled
the Templars. The Order consisted of Knights, Chaplains, and men-at-arms. The
Knights wore white mantles, and the Chaplains and Soldiers black or dark brown.
All were distinguished by a red cross sewn on their mantles. The Headquarters of
the Order were at the seaport of Acre for the East and at Paris for the
West. As they did no
productive work the maintenance of the Order depended on the liberality of
Christendom. The affairs of the Order were directed by a Grandmaster, under whom
were officers called Preceptors or Commanders. There is no doubt that Scotland
had a Preceptor, and under him there were local agencies.
Kennedy's " Annals " says that a branch of the Templars was established in Aberdeen and had a Convent and a Church situated at the east end of the Castlegate, in the lane which was formerly called Skipper Scott's Close, and Dr Alexander Walker believed that the Catholic Chapel of Justice Street had been built upon the site of the Templars' Church.
Parson James Gordon says in 1661 : —
They took the side of the Pope in a quarrel with Philip IV. of France, and he resolved to crush them. He accused them of heresies and heinous crimes which it now seems impossible to believe they committed ; but they were found guilty, and the Order was suppressed in France in 1312, and its property was transferred to the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John. At the Reformation their property in Scotland fell to the Crown, and the lands of the Order were erected into a barony by Queen Mary in favour of Sir James Sandilands of Torphichen, the last Preceptor or Commander of the Order in Scotland; and the detached lands and houses once belonging to the Templars were soon disposed of.
The Mauchlin Tower Site of the Red Friars Monastry - Knights Templar is halfway down Justice Street and is recorded on Milnes map of 1789.
- Blackfriars ~ 1221
On or before 1230 AD, King Alexander II gifted to the order of Blackfriars in Aberdeen what had formerly been his 'Palace' and Gardens. This was situated approximately where the Robert Gordon's College and the Art Gallery now are on the north side of Schoolhill. Blackfriars Street today records the gift and situation. By 1338 the Blackfriars also owned substantial land and property in the Castlegate.
The Monastery and the Church were dedicated to John the Baptist, and the small knoll at the east side of Schoolhill Station is called St John's Hill on Gordon's chart. The Brethren received in 1397 a gift of land at the Boat of Kintore from John Keith for religious services for him and his relations. Kings of Scotland and private citizens in Aberdeen made gifts of crofts and houses and annuities to them. They were patronised by the Keiths, Earls Marischal, and they had an annuity of £10 from the Barony of Dunnottar for soul masses for members of the family, who most probably were buried within the Church of the Monastery. The silver heart had been an ornament worn by one of the ladies of the Keith family. The Friary prospered and became wealthy. This led to luxury and indulgence ; but some reforms were made in the Priorate of John Adams (1503-08).
Of Aberdeen's religious houses at the reformation, only the Monastery of the Dominicans had no separate church. The Blackfriars owned land at Kintore, Banchory & Devenick and Dunnottar as well as the Castlegate and other town property. They became dissolute until Friar John Adam, later Principal of the Order of Scotland and the first graduate in theology of King's College, took them in hand in 1503. The Monastery, in ancient times, was a place of sepulchre of the family of the Earls of Marischal who were their chief patrons. They prospered in Aberdeen until the Reformation when on 4th June 1560 the reforming invaders from Angus looted the buildings and in 1587 all of their properties were granted to George Keith, 5th Earl of Marischal, the benefactor of Aberdeen's Marischal College.
The Dominicans devoted their learning, eloquence, and energy to the reformation of the Catholic Church from the Conservative point of view. Hence their order was particularly obnoxious to the Scotch Protestant Reformers, and one of the first acts of violence in the Reformation was the destruction of their Monastery at Perth in 1559. In the last days of that year the interiors of the Church and Monastery in Aberdeen were plundered and destroyed, and the inmates were expelled. The Town Council took possession of the buildings in the interests of education and religion and retained them till the Crown disposed of them in 1565-6, along with the other property of the Order. After passing through various hands they came into the possession of George, Earl Marischal, in 1587, and in 1593 he made them over as an endowment to the New College and University which he founded in the Greyfriars Monastery. From a Crown charter granted to the Earl in 1592 ("Records of Marischal College," I. 4-7) we see that the place of the Blackfriars then consisted of three portions, namely, the monastery and church [with its cemetery] and other subsidiary buildings - barn, kiln, and pigeon-house, with garden and orchard; an incroft lying to the west of the Monastery and included within the same walls; and the yard croft, lying between the wall on the south and the Loch on the north. These parts are shown on Gordon's chart, 1661. When the Monks were expelled in January, 1560, Friar Abercromby took with him the writings connected with the properties of the Order, and they were not recovered till 1617. The University had to get decrees in court against the numerous occupants of the properties before it could establish its rights and get payment of rents. In 1732 the University feued the Blackfriars property between the Schoolhill and the Loch to the Town Council, to be the site of Gordon's Hospital, and in 1883 a part of the hospital ground was parted with to the Town Council, for the site of an Art Gallery which was opened in 1884.
THE CARMELITES ~ 1273
It is asserted that they were settled in Aberdeen by Alexander 11. (1214-49), but there is no evidence that the Carmelites came to Aberdeen till Alexander III. had been 20 years on the throne. "The Records of Marischal College" (I. 13-17) contains notices of many charters in favour of the Carmelites, the earliest of which is dated May 7, 1361 ; but it confirms an older charter dated 1274. The Carmelites and other Friars were then at the height of their popularity, and though poverty was one of their rules wealth came to' them unsought ; and from " The Records " we see that before the Information the Dominicans and the Carmelites had accumulated a vast amount of property in crofts, houses, and annual rents. The Carmelite Place was bounded on the north by the Green; on the west by the Denburn, from which it was separated by a road, but the railway has now taken the place of the Denburn; on the south the Denburn or the Sea, according to the state of the tide, was the boundary; and on the east the boundary was a straight road nearly in the line of Rennie's Wynd. The north-east corner of the convent ground was a little to the west of the end of Back Wynd (See Gordon's Chart).
James Gordon - Map of Aberdeen
Carmelite Street & Carmelite Lane
GREYFRIARS ~ 1461
Marischal College stands in a Court, entered by an old arched gateway from the East Side of Broad Street, near its mergence into Gallowgate. The original buildings were those of a Franciscan Friary, suppressed at the Reformation. A new edifice, retaining the portions of the old buildings that were not destroyed by fire in 1639, was erected in 1676, and an extension superseding those portions was built in 1740-41. But the whole was unsubstantial and in constant need of repair: and in 1837-41 it was replaced on the same site by a very extensive and most imposing pile, designed by Archibald Simpson
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