Crathie Kirk

Crathie Kirk
Crathie Kirk

Crathie Kirk

Denomination Church of Scotland
Churchmanship Reformed
Presbytery Kincardine & Deeside
Minister(s) The Revd Kenneth Mackenzie

Crathie Kirk is a small Church of Scotland parish church in the Scottish village of Crathie, best known for being the regular place of worship of the British Royal Family when they are holidaying at nearby Balmoral Castle.

Crathie Kirk is now united with neighbouring Braemar to form a single parish with two places of worship. Eventually this parish will be further enlarged to include Glenmuick (Ballater). The minister (since 2005) is the Reverend Kenneth Mackenzie. Mackenzie was previously minister of the Church of Scotland congregation in Budapest, Hungary (1999–2005).



Crathie has been a place of Christian worship since the 9th century when a church was founded on the banks of the River Dee by Saint Manire (Bishop of Aberdeenshire and Banff and a follower of Saint Columba, the pioneer of Christianity in Scotland). It is traditionally held that Manire baptised Pictish converts in a pool of the Dee east of the modern village of Crathie. A single standing stone at Rinabaich is all that remains of Manire's church (where Manire himself is reputedly buried).

Subsequent places of worship were situated further west, near the location of present day Crathie village. The ruins of a 13th century church, dedicated to Saint Manire, stand on the riverbank south of the current structure.

A later church was built at the current site in 1804. Queen Victoria worshipped there from 1848, and every British monarch since has worshipped at Crathie Kirk. Victoria laid the foundation stone for a new, much larger, church in 1893. Queen Victoria's decision to worship at the Crathie Kirk initially caused a scandal, particularly when it was discovered that she had received communion there, because she was head of the Church of England. Victoria asserted that as Queen of Scotland, she was also entitled to worship in a Scottish church, and further, Crathie is the closest church to Balmoral Castle.[1]

The British Royal Family attended the Sunday Service at this Church right after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on the morning of 31 August 1997. It caused great public disbelief that the late Princess was not mentioned at the Service.


The walls are built of local granite and the roof made of Scots Pine. Building materials were donated by the surrounding estates, and £5000 raised from the local population to fund construction. The church, built in the fashionable Gothic revival style by Elgin architect A. Marshall Mackenzie, was completed in 1895. The kirk's south transept is reserved for royal use. The north transept contains pews belonging to the Farquharson family, Lairds of Invercauld and owners of Braemar Castle and to the Gordon family, Lairds of Abergeldie and owners of nearby Abergeldie Castle.

Royal connections

  • Queen Victoria donated two stained glass windows which commemorate author and social reformer Reverend Norman MacLeod, and endowed the kirk's Father Willis organ.
  • Victoria's highland servant John Brown is buried in the churchyard.
  • Princess Beatrice donated four bells which continue to hang in the belltower.
  • Edward VII donated two marble medallions commemorating his brother Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and sister Victoria, Princess Royal and Empress Frederick.
  • Edward's son George V donated a communion table dedicated to the memory of his father. This was made from white marble quarried on the island of Iona, the site of Columba's monastery.
  • Elizabeth II donated a Bible decorated with the royal crest.
  • The Princess Royal married her second husband Timothy Laurence at Crathie on 12 December 1992. Choosing to have the ceremony performed by the Church of Scotland avoided the problem of the Anglican Church of England's unwillingness to remarry divorced people.

See also


  1. ^ Alan Michie, God Save The Queen at p. ____

External links

Coordinates: 57°02′22″N 3°12′46″W / 57.03931°N 3.21283°W / 57.03931; -3.21283

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