When the Abbey of Lindores was founded circa 1200 the monks were granted the patronage and revenues of the parish of Collessie by Sir Roger de Quincey of Kinloch. In 1243 the church was rededicated by Bishop David de Bernham of St. Andrews but the site may even have been used for worship in pre-Christian times. Collessie was on the pilgrim route to St Andrews
Collessie kirkyard has been a burial site since the 12th Century but is no longer in use apart from those who already own a lair. It is well-documented and a book recording all the lairs and inscriptions is available to consult for those with an interest in family history. The most important tomb is the Melville Tomb erected by the Melville family of Halhill for Sir James Melville who was interred in 1617 aged 82. Sir James was a noted diplomat and courtier of Queen Mary and King James VI. On the south wall outside the kirkyard is a cautionary poem in Scots warning pilgrims to reflect on their eternal destiny and not be buried inside the church walls!
The present building at Collessie was opened in 1839 and little has changed since then. The building replaced an earlier one which by the 1830s was so cold and damp as to be beyond repair. During the building of the present church the villagers of Collessie pulled it down as it was being built because it was being built over graves and the Riot Act had to be read to allow the church building to be finished.
The Disruption of 1843 resulted in the minister and most of the congregation leaving and establishing a Free Church at Giffordstown. Then in 1882 the congregation moved to the newly built St. Mary’s UF Church in Ladybank.
One of the features of Collessie Church is the oil lamps which are used at Christmas and occasional other services giving a special atmosphere.
More information can be found on the Friends of Collessie Church website.
Friends of Collessie Church is a group drawn from church and community to raise funds for the maintenance and preservation of Collessie church and other related matters. Some members of the group take an interest in family history and are very knowledgeable about the burials in the kirkyard.
The Friends also organise an annual art exhibition and participate in the Doors Open days.