Turnbull Clan Visit

Sustainability, Tourism, Villages | 1 comment




A group of North American Turnbull Clan members have been visiting Scotland. On Sunday 18th June, a glorious sunny day, they visited the village of Bedrule. They were joined by Jane Bower, Chair of the Campaign for a Scottish Borders National Park, and Roger Curtis, an expert on ancient buildings and local resident who has been advising the 12 Towers of Rule archaeological exploration. They looked around the Bedrule Kirkyard, deciphering fading names on old gravestones, then admired the stained glass window in the Kirk, which had been funded by a Turnbull donation. A touching Church of Scotland service in Bedrule Kirk was conducted by Reverend Rachel Wilson, then everyone walked along the line of cottages to Bedrule Hall. 

Tea and biscuits were accompanied by an update on the ongoing archaeological exploration from Roger Curtis.  Roger then led the group across the field to the site of Bedrule Castle, explaining how it might have looked, and pointing across the river to the field in which local legend claims that the bull was turned, saving the life of Robert the Bruce.

A morning to remember. However, one worrying piece of news – Bedrule Kirk and several other small churches in the valley of Rulewater are under threat of being sold by the Church of Scotland in a few years’ time. They now each hold very occasional services on a rota. The maintenance costs have become unaffordable and it has been decided to consolidate the congregations and sell buildings which are not used.

The discussions have started about alternative uses for the buildings. They hold an important place in the hearts and minds of their communities, both local and worldwide. They are part of the story of these communities. They are not suitable for conversion to houses. It might well be possible to set up a community trust and to raise enough funds to take them into it. But they would have to find uses which could cover the cost of fulfilling their new purpose, and also ongoing maintenance costs.

Is there a way that they can continue to be part of the story of the Valley of Rulewater and Teviotdale?

If you have any ideas please join the discussion below


1 Comment

  1. Betty Turnbull (and Wally Turnbull, honorary chief of Turnbull Clan Association)

    Nestled in the heart of the Scottish Borders, the quaint village of Bedrule holds a hidden gem of historical significance: the Bedrule Kirk. This humble place of worship not only serves as a symbol of spiritual sanctuary but also stands as a testament to the region’s vibrant past. From the esteemed origins of one of the Borders most influential people, Bishop William Turnbull, to its ties with prominent families and international connections, Bedrule Kirk deserves to be preserved for generations to come.

    Bedrule Kirk boasts a deep-rooted connection to Scottish intellectual heritage through its association with Bishop William Turnbull, the esteemed founder of Glasgow University. Turnbull rose to prominence through his remarkable contributions to education and the arts. His friendship with James II and appointment as Keeper of the Privy Seal further exemplify his influence and the respect he commanded. Preserving Bedrule Kirk ensures that this significant historical figure and his contributions to Scottish academia continue to be honored and remembered.

    One of the defining features of Bedrule Kirk is its stunning stained glass windows. These intricate artworks not only add aesthetic charm but also serve as a visual representation of the region’s border history. Preserving these precious stained glass windows ensures the preservation of an invaluable artistic and cultural heritage that connects Bedrule to the world beyond its borders.

    The panels bearing the arms of local families, including the Douglas, Elliot, Ogilvie, Oliver, Rutherford, Turnbull, and Usher clans, are a poignant testament to the rich tapestry of Bedrule’s past. Each family represented on these panels carries with it a unique narrative that reflects the social, political, and cultural history of the Scottish Borders. Preserving Bedrule Kirk becomes essential in honoring and celebrating the diverse local families who have contributed to the village’s vibrant heritage. The presence of a memorial plaque to Anthony Fasson within Bedrule Kirk reinforces its role as a site of remembrance and gratitude. Fasson, a native of nearby Lanton, showcased exceptional bravery during World War II as First Lieutenant of the HMS Petard. He received a posthumous George Cross for his heroic actions in retrieving vital Enigma codebooks from a sinking German U-Boat in 1942. Preserving Bedrule Kirk allows us to pay homage to Fasson’s sacrifice and ensure that his remarkable story of courage continues to inspire generations to come.

    Bedrule Kirk, with its historical connections to Bishop William Turnbull, ties to prominent families, and international significance through stained glass windows and memorial plaques, stands as a proud testament to the Scottish Borders’ rich and diverse heritage. Preserving this sacred place ensures that future generations can immerse themselves in the stories of the past, fostering a sense of pride, identity, and appreciation for the remarkable individuals and events that have shaped Bedrule and its surrounding communities. By safeguarding Bedrule Kirk, we honor the Border clans who played a significant role in not just Borders history but the history of Scotland. It would also celebrate the Borders culture and create a lasting legacy for the generations.

    I believe that Border clans worldwide organizations would support preserving Bedrule Kirk. I believe that I can speak on behalf of the Turnbull Clan Association that Bedrule Kirk has a significant place in our history, and we would be proud to be part of the campaign to preserve its history.


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