The Parish Church

Moving back along the way we came the hundred yards or so back to the Parish Church, we stop at the entrance to the door and look up to see the date 1592 and an anchor, upside-down, cut into the stone. This indicates that the church is anchored to Heaven, and stems from the founding members who were mostly seafaring people. Inside the church, should it be open, there is an opportunity to sit and peruse the surroundings, and read a little more on the history of this fascinating edifice.

The Panels

Some of the painted panels

More of the painted panels

The painted panels on the gallery with the old guild signs immediately impress, and an explanation of a few of them is here: "A.N. 1622" is when the Kirk Session and the Prime Gild agreed on a frontage. "1711" is the year that the Charter of Incorporation came into practice. "1733" - the Guildry first enjoyed the Act passed in 1732 when 14 members had seats on the Town Council. "4" was the figure used in early times to indicate the first four burghs resulting in the Convention of Royal Burghs - Edinburgh, Stirling, Berwick and Roxburgh. There are two guild signs which disappeared after a fire in the gallery in 1822. These panels, the Weavers, dated 1597, and the Prime Gilt of 1609, were recovered from a house in Kirkcaldy in 1973, restored by the Department of the Environment, and replaced in the Kirk in 1980.

Model of the Great Michael

The model of a ship, "The Great Michael", provides a story of how a number of the crew, after a shipwreck, found their way to the old church at Kirkton. In recognition of the hospitality and assistance provided by the local people, the survivors made a ships model which hung in the old church. When the Parish Church was built, a hook was embedded in one of the main supporting columns and the model ship hung from the hook. As time passed the model deteriorated and was removed. Around 1963, when the interior of the church was being refurbished, a Mr Watson provided the present model to keep the story alive.

The Council Seats

The canopied seat facing the pulpit provides information on the days of the church in its early period. The Arms of Sir Robert Melville and his wife, and the date of 1606 are clearly seen. Sir Robert Melville was famous in his day as secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, and owner of Burntisland Castle. His son, also Sir Robert Melville and latterly Lord Burntisland, was a member of the Privy Council, and travelled to London when King James VI of Scotland and I of England took up residence in the English capital. In the 19th century the owners of the castle seat exchanged it for the Town Council seat, and until the end of the old form of local government (1970's) it was used after elections for the Kirking of the Council.

The council seats

The General Assembly of 1601

Of the many interesting and historic events to happen in the church the one which had repercussions throughout the world was the proposal to have a new Authorised Version of the Bible. King James VI had changed the venue of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May 1601 from St Andrews to Burntisland, and during discussions it was agreed to form a committee to pursue the object of a new authorised version. James gave a great dissertation on his knowledge of the Bible, but despite this he was not appointed to the committee. However, at the end of the day it was he who chiefly influenced the version known ever since as the King James version.

When James succeeded to the English throne after the death of Queen Elizabeth, he was on his way to London when Scots people met him and implored him to continue with the proposed new Bible. He did in 1604 hold a convocation at Hampton Court where agreement was reached, and the Authorised Version was published in 1611. All this emanated from the General Assembly meeting in Burntisland Kirk

A reading from the frontispiece of the Bible emphasises James's part in this work:
"To the Most High and Mighty King James, by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, the Translators of the Bible wish Grace, Mercy and Peace through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Great and manifold were the blessings, most dread Sovereign, which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first he sent Your Majesty's Royal Person to rule and reign over us….. For when your Highness had once out of deep judgement apprehended how convenient it was, that out of the Original Sacred Tongues, together with comparing of the labours both in our own and other foreign languages, of many worthy men who went before us, there should be one more exact translation of the Holy Scriptures into the English tongue; Your Majesty did never desist to urge and excite those to whom it was commended that the work might be hastened, and that the business might be expedited in so decent a manner, as a matter of such importance might justly require."

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