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The History of Glasgow
Chapter IX - Building of Cathedral and Early Dedications


BEFORE the end of King David's reign the diocesan reorganization of the whole of the country was completed, and the foundation of the various bishoprics and appointment of the bishops were followed by the erection of cathedral chapters, usually of secular canons, constituted for the most part on English models. The chapter of Glasgow was based on the model of Sarum (i.e. Salisbury), the ritual of which was likewise adopted. But for the completion of such arrangements some little time would be required, and meanwhile the building of a suitable church had to be undertaken. Towards the building and restoration of the church Prince David, in the year 1123, granted one hundred shillings yearly from the rents of Hardingestrorna within the earldom of Northampton, which earldom he had acquired on his marriage with the Countess Matilda, and to this grant his wife was a consenter. [Reg. Episc. No. 2; Lawrie's Charters, No. 46.] No portion of this early structure has survived, but the general plan is indicated by a fragment of the immediately succeeding work which is still preserved at the west end of the present lower church. Though in the original design a completed church was no doubt contemplated, the first object would be the erection of the Choir, with its High Altar, where a beginning might at once be made in the exercise of divine worship. From the slope of the ground the building would naturally be in two storeys, the High Altar in the Choir being placed over the shrine in the crypt, or lower church, containing the relics of St. Kentigern. Only this part of the work seems to have been accomplished when the new church was dedicated in July, 1136. [Cathedral (1901), pp. 9, 10.]

At the dedication of the new church King David granted to God and St. Kentigern part of the land in "Perdeyc" territory which has already been referred to as an old possession of the British Kings. The portion which was now assigned to the church is described in the grant as the land which Ascelinus, archdeacon, held of the King, "in wood and plain, waters and fishings, meadows and pasturages, all as Ailsi and Tocca held the same on the day in which the land was in the king's demesne." The archdeacon, however, was to remain in possession during his lifetime, paying to the church a silver mark and rendering such services as he had been accustomed to do to the King, but after his decease the land was to remain with the church free and quit of all such claims. At a subsequent but unknown date David bestowed on the church another part of "Perthec," and he also, by a charter, granted prior to 1152, gave "Guven, with its marches," to be possessed by the church of St. Kentigern of Glasgow and the bishopric, free and quit of all, customs and services. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 3, 6, 7.]

Before referring more particularly to these grants and their utilization for the augmentation of cathedral services, it may here be noted that the remainder of the lands of Partick, to give the old royal demesne its modern name, was either granted or confirmed by Malcolm IV. to Walter, son of Alan, the High Steward, who had obtained from King David extensive lands, including those of Renfrew on the south side of the Clyde. At this part the river was late in being confined to a settled course, as may be seen from the numerous islets shown on Blaeu's map, the survey for which was made in the beginning of the seventeenth century, doubtless after many changes in the channel since Malcolm's time. In the charter by that King to the Steward, confirming both his office and lands, there is included " as much of Prethec as King David held in his hand," and it is stated that Malcolm gave and confirmed the same for services which the Steward had rendered to King David and him. [Reg. de Passelet, Appendix I.] Thelands so bestowed, so far as not composed of river islets, were situated on the north side of the Clyde, and are now merged in the parish of Renfrew. Having long ago lost their original name, the lands now include such well-known places as Yoker, Scotstoun and Jordanhill.

The town of Renfrew, occupying part of the royal demesne, had been erected into a burgh by King David, and about the same time he gave its church to Bishop John of Glasgow, who thereupon constituted it a prebend of his cathedral. After the bestowal of the lands on Walter the Steward and the foundation by the latter of Paisley Abbey, the monks claimed right to the church of Renfrew as being within the parish of Paisley, but by a Bull of Pope Urban, granted about the years 1185-7, the church of Renfrew was confirmed to the Bishop of Glasgow, and by a formal agreement entered into between the years i208 and 1232, the Abbot renounced all claim to the church. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 66, 113.]

As stated in a previous chapter, the lands of Partick appear to have been extensive, though they are nowhere precisely defined. One of the four wards into which the barony of Glasgow was latterly divided was called Partick Ward, embracing property as far east of the River Kelvin as Shettleston, but this can scarcely be accepted as more than an indicationthat to some undefined extent the lands of Partick included a portion of that area.

In Walter Bower's continuation of the Scotichronicon it

is stated that Saint Constantine, King of Cornwall, leaving an earthly kingdom, became a soldier of the heavenly King, and, along with Saint Columba, went to Scotland and preached the faith to the Scots and Picts; that he founded a monastery of brethren at Govan on the Clyde, over whom he was abbot, and that he converted the whole land of Kintyre, where he died a martyr for the faith, and was buried at Govan. [Goodal's ed. (1759), i. P. 130.] Other chroniclers give narratives to similar purport, and that there was a church or monastery at Govan, long before the time of King David, seems to be further evidenced by the fact that there are preserved in the churchyard various sculptured stones of ancient workmanship, including an elaborately decorated sarcophagus, believed to be the shrine of St. Constantine, king and martyr. [Scots Lore, p. 106 ; The Govan Sarcophagus (1902); Scottish International Exhibition Catalogue, 1901, Nos. 238-47.] When Govan, therefore, came into possession of Glasgow bishopric it seems to have had a church as well as a village and an agricultural community occupying a considerable tract of land. The territory bestowed by King David extended along the south bank of the river Clyde from the lands of Renfrew on the west to those of Rutherglen at Polmadie Burn on the east, and were bounded by the stewardry lands of "Kerkert" and Paisley on the south. On "Kerkert" lands, a short distance from the southern Govan boundary, stood an old British camp, the outer rampart of which, 400 yards in circumference, still remains in a fair state of preservation. Earthworks of similar description must have been common in the district, but in consequence of agricultural and building operations their sites are now beyond identification. "Camphill," being within the Queen's Park grounds, is secure against further dilapidation.

In King David's charter of Govan the bishop is not named, and though it is supposed to have been granted about the year 1134 it is uncertain in whose episcopate the church was originally formed into a prebend of the cathedral. By an undated writing Bishop Herbert, who succeeded John in 1147, gave and confirmed the prebend to "Help," his clerk, describing it as the church of Govan, with all its ecclesiastical rights, and the islands between Govan and Perthic, and that part of Perthic which David, King of Scots, gave towards the endowment of the church of Glasgow at the dedication thereof, and another part of Perthic which the same King afterwards gave to that church and to Bishop John. It is stated that parts of the lands thus dedicated did not formerly belong to the prebend, but that they, with the adjacent islands and fishings, were bestowed by Bishop Herbert, for augmentation of the honour and dignity of his church. [Reg. Episc. No 7] It was in consequence of these arrangements that when the parish of Govan was formed and defined its northern section extended beyond the river Clyde.


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