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Church of the Annunciation

Portsoy

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Before the Reformation, the Parish Church for the area of Portsoy was in nearby Fordyce: and part of the ruins can still be seen in the old Churchyard there.

In the Post-Reformation period a Priest was frequently stationed at Auchintoul of Marnoch, and covered the Portsoy - Banff area from there.

In 1790, a house was purchased in the Braeheads, (an area of Portsoy near the present swimming pool), and served as a church until 1801, when a building of much larger size in Burnside was acquired.

From 1795, a Priest was in residence in Banff and again Portsoy was covered from there The Burnside building served as the Church for some twenty eight years until the building of the present Church. In 1827, the Priest in Banff shifted from there and took up residence in Portsoy.

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That year an Alexander Grant, a young man of twenty three years of age, came to Portsoy and he started the planning of the present Church.

Work on the project commenced at the beginning of May 1829, and the Church, plus part of the present house, were complete by December. The work had cost the sum of Three Hundred and Sixty Pounds.

The Church was formally opened by Bishop Kyle on the 13th of December 1829, and is similar in style to the Church of Our Lady of The Assumption built in Dufftown in 1825.

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Alexander Grant, unfortunately did not enjoy his new Church for long, as he died in 1833 at the young age of twenty nine.

In the year 1898 extensive restoration work to the interior of the Church was found to be necessary, as the woodwork in particular, was in very bad state of repair. At the same time, and following a design produced by the Aberdeen architects Messrs Smith and Kelly, the internal layout was altered to improve the seating accommodation, and a semi-circular apse was added. On completion of the work a solemn High Mass was celebrated by the Very Rev. Monsignor Chisholm, then the rector of Blairs ( he became subsequently Bishop of Aberdeen), and once again the Church was back in use for public worship.

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Little or no alterations to the Church took place over the years. until 1937, when Fr. J. Bonnyman, then the Priest in charge, was responsible for the installation of the present Altar , with the invaluable assistance of a legacy from a Mr. John Cruickshank.

He also was responsible for the re-decoration of the interior.

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This work was undertaken with the advice of the late Peter F. Anson, and that of the late Poet Laureate, John Betjeman.

The present front door was formed, and the Vestibule and Choir Loft re- modelled in 1964.

In 1969, Portsoy ceased to be a separate Parish and was joined once again to Banff.

The Church of The Annunciation is a neat and commodious building, designed to seat 250 people, and stands on a high bank above Loch Soy, overlooking the approach to the tow-n from the south and from the east.

The Church entrance is on the south gable, which is quite grandly treated, with four pilasters of stone, each of which terminate in a pointed minaret.

The windows are in the gothic style with surrounds of stone, and the walls simply harled.

The gable is completed with a stone cross mounted on the apex.

When you enter the Vestibule, the Vestry is to your left and the staircase to the Organ Gallery to your right.

The Gallery contains an excellant organ, originally presented by the Earl of Fife to the Banff Congregation but later transferred to Portsoy.

The Altar is located at the north end of the Church, and to the side of it stands the Pulpit.

 

PORTSOY: A HISTORICAL NOTE

The following is an interesting letter written during the lead up to the creation of the Church of The Annunciation in Portsoy from Mr. Alex Grant, the first resident Priest in Portsoy, to Bishop Kyle, dated 10th April 1829.

According to your advice I wrote to Col. Grant’s man of business regarding our Chapel fu, and l am happy now to state that our application has met with a favourable reception.

We have been put in possession of the feu and hope soon to commence the building. Our present means are not certainly sufficient.

We have 100 arising from the sell of the old Chapel, and another 120 subscribed by the members of the Congregation.

But all this falls short of the original estimate which is 350. Necessity and not pride or vain ostentation has been our motive for building a new Chapel in Portsoy ".