Kirk gets ready for historical exhibition

St James' Church in Stonehaven
St James' Church in Stonehaven

A Stonehaven church is preparing to put a treasure trove of historical artefacts on display.

St James’ Episcopal Church in Arbuthnott Street will host an exhibition called Spaces.

One of the exhibits will be a bible owned by a cousin of Robert Burns.

Work inside the church got under way last week with the arrival of woodwork, panels, lighting and other equipment.

It comes after more than three years of detailed research, and hard work by many volunteers and vital support from a number of funders,

There will be seven bibles and prayer books, the earliest dating from 1716, and the one dated 1737 belonging to the Bard’s cousin. They will be accompanied by explanations of their historical relevance.

Over the next few months, greater detail will be added to the church’s website.

David Fleming, the church’s buildings convener and vestry member, described the project as “very exciting”.

He said: “You will also be able to see most of the beautiful silverware and pewterware, some dating from the 1600s, which have been used in the chapel and church, and which lain unseen in our cupboards for decades.

“Our design contractor has done wonders with the texts, pictures and graphics to explain the long and fascinating history of the Episcopal Church in Stonehaven starting from 1688 and running through to the present day.

“There will also be an interactive virtual reality app so that you can stroll round and hear details of some of the key features of the church in front of you.”

The exhibition space allocated to the organ will have material from the John Wardle archive.

He built the St James’ organ, which is still in use, and was organist and choirmaster from 1882 to 1941.

His great-grandson has given the exhibition a mantlepiece clock and vases given to Wardle for 25 years’ service in 1907.

Further displays will explain how a church organ works, and why it is such an important musical instrument.

Wardle built more than 150 church organs during his time in the North-east and as the agent for Edward Wadsworth of Oldham, and details of all these installations and others he tuned and maintained, will be shown.

St James Church will remain open from morning to evening while work is being carried out and entry is free.

It is hoped the exhibition will be ready in about a month.