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Church of the Holy RudeThe second oldest building in Stirling, the Church of the Holy Rude dates to the 15th century. The church owes its name to Robert II who dedicated an altar in Stirling to the Holy Rude or Holy Cross and Stirling's church was thereafter known as the Church of the Holy Rude. It was built upon the site of an earlier church which was destroyed in a fire. According to popular tradition, James IV physically worked with the masons in the construction of its eastern end in the early 16th century.
The Church of the Holy Rude is now one of the finest surviving medieval churches in Scotland. It survived the Reformation and was amongst the first churches in Scotland to discontinue the Catholic mass. Its proximity to Stirling Castle resulted in royal patronage and in 1567, James VI was crowned King of Scotland during a Protestant ceremony with a sermon preached by John Knox. Unfortunately, his James's mother, Mary Queen of Scots was locked up in Loch Leven Castle at the time and was unable to attend. The Church of the Holy Rude is the only other active church in the UK to have witnessed a coronation other than Westminster Abbey.
Consecutive ages have left their own distinctive marks on the Church of the Holy Rude. You'll see the original medieval oak beam roof, beautiful stained glass windows dating to the mid 19th century and various chapels and altars built by different craft guilds and wealthy merchants. Until the 1930's you would have also seen a wall dividing the church in two, constructed during the 17th Century to serve both sides of the religious debate. It only took a couple of hundred years for their differences to be sorted out! The Church of the Holy Rude also boasts the largest Romantic organ in Scotland and organ recitals and other musical events are held regularly.
In the Kirkyard, keep a look out for the Service Stone. An unusual headstone erected in 1636, it was hit on both sides in the siege of 1651 and is pockmarked with musket shots. The Kirkyard once served as the castle's playground where jousting and horsemanship tournaments were held but nowadays it bears witness to two Protestant Memorials. Martyr's Monument is dedicated to two Wigtown women who were drowned in 1685 and the Star Pyramid commemorating the Covenanting martyrs is said to have had a local interred within while he sat a table of food.
Curious Facts or Total Fiction?
James VI was really baptised as Charles. His name was changed to James so as to continue the royal Scottish tradition of having a James on the throne.
Address: St John Street
Postcode: FK8 1ED
Town/city or near: Stirling
Open daily: 11:00 - 16:00, Easter - 1 October (including weekends and public holidays) Admission by donation.