Abercorn Parish Church

Hopetoun Loft, Abercorn Kirk
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Hopetoun Loft, Abercorn Kirk

Lying just to the north of the hamlet of Abercorn, on the Hopetoun Estate in West Lothian, is the Abercorn Parish Church. In a small part 12th Century Norman, on a site which can be traced back to a 7th Century monastery and mentioned by the Venerable Bede, the church is mostly post-Reformation having been reconstructed in 1579.

Abercorn went on to become the family church of the Dalyells of the Binns, responsible for the Binns Aisle (1618) on the south side. Alongside is the Duddingston Aisle (1603) built for the family of the Hamilton Lords Abercorn. The status of both of these families was later overshadowed by the Hopes, who became the Marquesses of Linlithgow. The latter family were responsible for one of the more unusual features of this church. The Hopetoun Aisle was built in 1708 on the north side of the church by architect Sir William Bruce (1630 - 1710). This included a private entrance for the Hopes, together with wood-panelled retiring rooms, and the Hopetoun Loft, looking down on the rear of the communion table, which allowed the family to take part in services, while completely isolated from the rest of the congregation, and the Dalyells, in the main body of the church below. The regal grandeur of this curious addition certainly enforced the status of the Hopes, the 'nouveau riche' of their time.

The church was subject to a major refurbishment and rearrangement in 1893 and the Hopetoun Aisle and Loft benefitted from a minor restoration in 1964-5.

The kirkyard includes some unusual 17th century gravestones, together with the burial vault of the Dalyells of the Binns built in 1623. Discretely hidden behind the east wall of the kirkyard lies the Hopetoun Mausoleum (1829), the burial place of the Marquesses of Linlithgow, designed by William Burn (1789 - 1870).

A small museum at the entrance of the kirkyard holds the remnants of an 8th Century cross, together with hogback stones and two 13th Century coffin lids.

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