St. John’s Kirk
On the East Wall in St John Street is a plaque recording that King David granted the Church of St. John the Baptist in Perth to Dunfermline Abbey in 1126 under whose auspices Perth fell at that time.
Outside the Kirk are two modern information boards. Earlier versions pictured here were initiated and funded by Perth Partnership, but these were replaced in 2021 by Panels 7 and 8 of the new Perth Medieval Trail created by Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust in conjunction with Perth and Kinross Council.
Panel 7, entitled St John’s Town, deals with the history of the Kirk, explaining its environs in the Middle Ages and later. It describes the Kirk’s place in Scottish history from its founding, through the Reformation and into the modern period.
Panel 8, entitled Trades of Perth, explains the medieval origins of Perth’s manufacturing industries.
Robert Lorimer carried out a restoration to transform the Kirk into the War Memorial to the dead of Perth and Perthshire following the Great War 1914 – 1918.
White Friars Monastery Carmelites.
Described as the Monastery of Tullielumb, founded by Alexander III c 1155 was occupied by Carmelite Friars.
The Carmelites, are known as the “White Friars” The Carmelites, when founded were as a purely contemplative order, but became mendicants in 1245.
Mendicant were Christian religious orders who adopted a lifestyle of poverty, travelling, and living in urban areas for purposes of preaching, evangelisation, and ministry, especially to the poor. At their foundation these orders rejected all previously established monastic model.
St Leonard’s Priory or The Nunnery of St Leonard the Abbot
The nunnery which was first recorded in 1411 was occupied by both nuns and monks.
When the Carthusian Monastery was established in 1429, it suppressed the nunnery. The lands of the nunnery were conferred on the Carthusian Monastery who continued the chapel under its patronage.
Following the dissolution of the monasteries the lands were acquired many years later by the Glover Corporation.
The plaque showing the site of this nunnery is on the old Salmon Fisheries Building on St. Leonard’s Bank. The land is now much changed due to the construction of the railways. The nunnery is remembered in the local street names of St Leonard’s Bank, Priory Place and Glover Street.
Blackfriars Monastery, The Dominicans
The monastery in Perth was thought to have be founded King Alexander II in 1231
The plaque sets out three important dates in the history of the monastery
The Church of the Friars Preachers of Blessed Virgin and Saint Dominic at Perth, commonly called “Blackfriars”, was a mendicant friary of the Dominican Order.
Mendicant were Christian religious orders who adopted a lifestyle of poverty, traveling, and living in urban areas for purposes of preaching, evangelization, and ministry, especially to the poor. At their foundation these orders rejected the previously established monastic model.
The friary was frequently used for national church councils and as a residence for the King of the Scots. Perth was perhaps the most important royal centre in the Kingdom of Scotland until the reign of King James III of Scotland who died in 1488.
It was at Blackfriars on the night of 20th February 1437 that King James I of Scotland was murdered by followers of the Duke of Atholl.
This Carthusian Priory in Perth is the only one in Scotland, was founded in 1429 by James I (1406–1437).
The foundation of a Carthusian or Charterhouse Monastery is recorded on the obelisk in the rounds, on the corner of King Street and Hospital Street.
The Carthusian Order is an enclosed order of both monks and nuns. The Carthusians are the most ascetic and austere of all the European monastic orders being regarded as the pinnacle of religious devotion to which monks from other orders were attracted when they felt in need for greater spiritual challenges.
The name Carthusian is derived from the Chartreuse Mountains in the French Alps. The name was adapted to the English “Charterhouse”. Charterhouse Lane is nearby.
It is said James I was buried within the grounds of the monastery following his murder at Blackfriars.
Also buried in the monastery grounds are Joan Beaufort Queen of James I and Margaret Tutor, sister of Henry VIII and Queen of James IV.
Reference St. Leonard’s Priory.
Greyfriars’s Monastery and Graveyard, The Franciscans
The Franciscan Monastery was founded in 1460.
Franciscans are sometimes referred to as Greyfriars. The original Rule of Saint Francis did not allow ownership of property, requiring members of the order to beg for food while preaching. The austerity was meant to emulate the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Franciscans travelled and preached in the streets, while staying in church properties.
The gate post and lintel at the entrance to the grounds give information on the Spey Tower, the city walls and details the site of the deaths of martyrs.
The portal inscription reads:
Hic genitor genitrixque siti et1 numerosa utriusque
Progenies nati et natae charique2 nepotes
Et neptes necnon pronepotes3 atque proneptes
Haec quicunque legis morti nos nostraeque cuncta
Deberi tanquam speculo referente videbis
Haec etenim transit generatio nascitur illa
Transcription, notes and translations by David Bowler, 06 October 2020
1 The inscription reads ‘sitiet’, which makes no sense here. ‘siti et’ means ‘lying, and’, which is obviously correct.
2 ‘charique’, a variant spelling for ‘carique’, meaning ‘and dear’.
3 The inscription clearly reads ‘pronepotos’, which is not a latin word. Pronepotes means ‘great grandsons’, which is obviously correct. o for e is an easy mistake for the sculptor to make.
Here lie father and mother, and a numerous
Progeny of both, sons and daughters, and dear grandsons
And granddaughters, and even great-grandsons and great-granddaughters.
Whoever reads all this, as if by looking into a mirror,
You shall see us and ours to be owed to death.
For this generation passes, that is born.
A more poetic rendition could be:
Here father lies and mother, and their swelling brood.
Sons and daughters, grandsons, granddaughters,
Great grandsons, great granddaughters, all here.
Reading this, as musing in a mirror, you shall
Behold us all and ours a debt to death.
For this generation passes, that is born.
Further information describes the wildlife to be found within the grounds.,
The graveyard contains the headstones of many early graves. Land which previously belonging to the monastery was set aside as the town graveyard from 1580. (Marshall T. H. The History of Perth : From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, (1849, p380 ).
Bishop of Dunkeld’s House, St John Street
Describes the position of the Bishop’s House. The house was erected in 1414-1416 and demolished in 1821.
This board should be read in conjunction with Fountain Close
St. Paul’s Hospital
A simple plaque showing the approximate site of the hospital and a founded date as March 1650
A History of St Paul’s church gives the date of founding of this establishment by John Spens as 1434.
The site at the corner of the Newrow had previously been occupied by a nunnery one of whose chapels was dedicated to St. Paul.
It is stated in this History of St Pauls that the chapel was of a considerable size allowing it to provide a hospital for travellers, the infirmed and the poor. (History of St Paul’s Church, J. R, Maclean 1957)
Glasite Meeting House at St Paul’s
John Glas founded the Glasites in Scotland in 1730.
A Glasite Church which was regarded as the “foundation of the Glasites” may have been founded in 1733. This church building was later, thought to have been erected in Perth in 1773. The date of 1839 it is thought refers to a later renovation, not to the building’s actual construction. (History of St Paul’s Church, J. R, Maclean 1957)
The Glasite churches aimed at a strict conformity with a primitive type of Christianity. Church unanimity was considered to be necessary; if any member differed in opinion from the rest, he must either surrender his judgement to that of the church, or be shut out from its communion. The Lord’s Supper was observed weekly and every member was required to be present. This did not take the form of symbolic morsels of wine and bread but a relatively substantial meal, a custom leading to the Glasites’ nickname of ‘Kail Kirk’ as Scotch Broth was served. The custom may have arisen as a charitable response to the poverty of most members of this Church and also as a pragmatic response to the length of meetings, particularly the sermons, and the distances some members of the congregation had to travel in order to attend.
The building was later purchased for use as the Church Hall for St Paul’s by the Rev T.D. Miller and his wife, formerly Margaret Julia Grant. The second plaque is a memorial to their fathers Thomas Miller (1839-1891) rector of Perth Academy for 32 years, and Alexander Grant, hence the Grant Miller memorial hall.
The St Paul’s minister used the hall as a vestry and then crossed the street into the church to conduct the service. (History of St Paul’s Church, J. R, Maclean 1957)
St Paul’s Church
A modern information board entitled Going to Market (Panel 9 of the Perth Medieval Trail) can be found beside the newly redeveloped St Paul’s Church open-air space. This replaced an earlier information board describing the history of St Paul’s Church and surrounding area (also shown).
St. Paul’s was the first church to be built outside the area of the old city walls.
The population of Perth 1801 was 16,388 a rise of 7.00 in the previous 56 years. Perth City Council agreed an additional church was required. The current site was chosen in preference to one by the shore despite the site lying directly over a branch of the city lade. Planning began in June 1796 and the first service of induction was held in November 1807. (History of St Paul’s Church, J. R, Maclean 1957).