by | Apr 2, 2020

A Short History of Gatehouse and Borgue Parish

The present Gatehouse Parish is the union of three former parishes – Anwoth and Girthon, the River Fleet being the boundary between the two, and Borgue which lies between the estuary of the Fleet and Kirkcudbright Bay.

The church at Anwoth, built in 1827, was used as a place of worship until 24 February 2002. It replaced the former Anwoth Church built in 1627, whose first minister was the famous Rev. Samuel Rutherford. We still have the bell from this church and it is rung at our early morning service on Easter Sunday in the ruins of the old Kirk. In the kirkyard around the old church are several tombstones marking the graves of covenanters murdered in the troubles during the 17th century. The 1827 Anwoth building still stands, though it is no longer a place of worship.

Borgue Church was built in 1814 but there had been Christian worship in Borgue long before that, probably even before the earliest written evidence which records that Sir Hugo de Moreville gave Borgue Church and its tithes to the Priory of Whithorn in 1150. The Union with Gatehouse Parish took place in July 2015 when Gatehouse Church linked with Tarff and Twynholm Parish. Borgue Church closed on the 19 August 2018 due to falling numbers in the congregation. Services are still held on the first Sunday of the month in the Borgue Village Hall.

Our present place of worship was built in 1817, a gift to the parish by Murray of Cally and Broughton to meet the needs of the growing population of Gatehouse of Fleet, which at that time was showing every sign of becoming a thriving industrial town. Murray’s church replaced the one in the hamlet of Girthon.   Its ruins can be seen from the road to Sandgreen. There is an interesting Covenanter’s Memorial in the grounds of the old church and an unusual Norman piscina.

Although the parish church was now in Gatehouse, the parish continued to be known as Girthon until 1975 when it was united with the parish of Anwoth and the new title was Anwoth & Girthon. This title continued for 30 years until in 2005 it was decided to change to the more logical name of Gatehouse of Fleet Parish Church.

Additions to the present building were: in the 1890’s, the tower and vestibule and, later, the fine triple-light window in the east wall, which came from the private chapel of the Murrays of Cally (Cally House is now the Cally Palace Hotel). Depicted in the three lights are scenes of the Nativity, the Crucifixion and the Ascension. Our original organ was also a gift, given in 1948 by the late Mrs Murray-Usher in memory of her mother. In 2013 a new digital organ was installed. The Communion Table and Chair taken from Anwoth Church, when it was closed, have been installed in the “Anwoth Corner” at the back of Gatehouse Church. On the walls of the “Corner” are memorials, also brought from Anwoth. The “Anwoth Corner” is used for services of meditation during Lent and for prayer at other times of the year.