Bruntskerry Kirk Visit

You know when you drive past a house, a place, a road, somewhere that you always tell yourself you should visit because it intrigues you……

Well, today, Daisy and I went to look at a small derelict kirk up on the hill that is a few miles down the road from where we live.  I must have driven past it a thousand times and I have always wanted to go inside.

Outside the front door – untamed rosa rugosa (beach rose) and sheep wool were tangled together like a scene from Great Expectations – the bit when Pip goes to see Miss Haversham.

We clambered through and opened the front door.

(lovely floor)

The kirk was in a bad way.

Some of the walls were back to the original lathe and plaster.

Most of the glass in the windows had gone – a bird flew through obviously very used to the escape route.

We found this nest later.

The view from the pulpit.

On the pulpit were three books. Two Bibles.

And a fascinating Scottish Psalter.

Is this instruction of how to sing the Psalms, ie when to change key? I have never seen music written out like this before.

We were not irreverant or disrespectful in any way – there was still a sense of peace and prayer in the kirk even though we found out later that the last congregation to attend was in 1980.

In the back room, we found the last remnants of worship.

I think these were envelopes for putting money in if you missed a service.

The Communion wine?

I said to Daisy “Oooh, a cross” and she replied “No, it’s part of a window”. Me told then.

Once outside, we carefully shut the door properly, bolting it against the destructive Shetland wind.

And had a wander around the outside.

I am glad we went in and saw this kirk. I love exploring and I love local history.

I found this information on t’net.

23 thoughts on “Bruntskerry Kirk Visit

  1. Tony

    thank you Frances. Like you we love visiting such building. I feel a sense of loss, yet an inner peace every time I enter one. They are testament to the community who set aside that one special day a week from toil and listened to the word.

  2. Margaret Robinson

    I do not understand the leading behind of such wonderful things, it’s disrespectful. This is a wonderful place and in so many ways sad. It should be retained and refurbished, but I suppose that’s one of “never going to happen” things in life. I’m glad you took the opportunity to look around and tightened what little security there was. Seems only right that the bird of whatever kind had made a home there.

  3. Judith Garbutt

    I found this interesting but also sad. In particular, I found it odd that the books were just left to rot. I’d have been tempted to take them home with a view to seeing if they could be preserved in some way. Is this something you would consider persuing, Frances? I’m amazed that noone’s been in and helped themselves to some of the pews – they’d probabably sell well via the internet!

  4. Joe Boyd

    Psalm 84:3
    Yea, the sparrow hath found an house,
    and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
    even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.

  5. Margaret Jean Deyell

    I went to Sunday school in this church in the sixties.
    Lovely memories of the Christmas tree and the atmosphere.
    My self, my cousin and my sister all got married in the church in the seventies.
    So sad to see it now.

    1. Frances Post author

      How wonderful you have those memories. I would’ve loved to have seen the Christmas tree – and the beautiful weddings. I went to Lunna Kirk for their candle service and it was a very moving experience. (and also very worrying with the candles!!!)

  6. diane in northern wis

    So sad to see this church. I could imagine when it was full of people and life and music. I am praying for all the souls who worshipped there. God knows who they are. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Susan Felton

    Thank you, Frances, for stopping in at last and for sharing your visit with your readers. The photos are wonderful. I’m sorry it’s been left so long with no one to care for it.

  8. Mary Macmillan

    I went to Sunday school in this Kirk on the 50s, also remember being at Harvest Thanksgivings and social events known as ‘soirees’ held at that time, where teas were served and were always well attended. My mother also attended Sunday School at Bruntskerry in the early 1900s when I suppose it was in its heyday, and she also spoke of going to what she called ‘Christmas Trees’ , a Christmas social when they got a present. So very sad that it has been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair.

      1. Mary Macmillan

        Yes I was Mary Thomson from Sung. My mother’s family were Frasers – there were six children and she and her twin brother were the youngest. Two died young and the others married and moved on so she was the only one left at Sung. She married Mattie Thomson from Gord in Watsness (an uncle to Sonny Williamson) and I was their only child. He died in 1980 and my mother in 1989. I and my own family were often out at Sung until my mother passed away. I live in Lerwick but still count myself as a Walls person! Very glad that Sung is lived in and in the good hands of Kaila and Bruce.

        1. Frances Post author

          Oh wow! Fascinating. Thank you so much for getting in touch. Gord is a stunning spot. Sonny was a wonderful friend to me. He was a joy to know and a huge loss to us. I would pop by with half a dozen eggs and he didn’t mind us galloping up the track that ran alongside the road to his house. He also had a fabulous track that ran through a field almost down to the see which was our horse-racing track, when open! He also was great about my dog being around – a lurcher after bunny rabbits and never sheep!

          It is lovely to have good neighbours and I certainly count Kaila and her family.

          We also own Finnigert and have rennovated it. Currently lived in (by friends) and returning to the beautiful croft it used to be.

    1. Frances Post author

      The kirk has such potential, especially in a community way. It is sad to see it like this.

  9. Diane Phillips

    Fascinating. I wonder what happened to the bell that hung at the roof?
    The ‘tithe’ envelopes were numbered so that the accounts for each giver could be noted & the gift aid tax reclaimed, I expect.
    Sad it is not reclaimed as a community building.

  10. Christine

    Fascinating. It makes me think of Iceland and the abandoned buildings there. Reminders of a whole different way of life.

    We’re the horses that hauled/carried the building stones Shetland ponies?

  11. Linda

    That was fascinating, Frances! Thank You for the tour – the photos were wonderful, and the history very interesting. I’m impressed at how the building has held together so well for so many years.

  12. Lucy MacArthur

    I love your description of your visit to the old kirk Frances, not least the correction by Daisy on what you thought was a ‘cross’ (window frame) – great!

    Pleased to see the birds are still benefitting from the building – dilapidated buildings definitely have many uses (oh for ruins and barns to be left alone more often – for owls and other creatures…..).

  13. Susie Chatburn

    It looks the same now as it did in 2001 when myself and my partner Steve Render (now passed) visited. Steve’s father (Rev John Clifford Render) was the minister of the Wesleyan kirk in Walls and the family lived in the attached manse, Steve and his sister Monica went to Happy Hansel School and The Anderson Institute. We stayed in Brunkskerry croft. We made enquiries to The Church of Scotland with regard to buying it but were told that there were plans to reopen it and hold services. Looks like that didn’t happen, so sad really.

    1. Frances Post author

      It is sad, a complete waste. Now they are arguing over the Title Deeds, which I think have vanished.

      Lovely to know your local history, though.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *