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Urquhart and Pluscarden

Our Lord said – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

This text came into my mind when I was asked to write something about the disposal of the furnishings of Urquhart Church. Those concerned no doubt knew the close links between Urquhart Priory and Pluscarden Priory. Urquhart Priory was created in 1124 by King David I as a cell of Dunfermline Abbey which was a Benedictine foundation. A century later King Alexander II founded the Vallis Caulium Priory at Pluscarden. The actual date was 1230. 

After a history of over 300 years Urquhart Priory agreed to union with Pluscarden which was confirmed by a Papal Bull by Nicholas V. The reason given was lack of numbers – Urquhart had 2 monks and the Prior, John Bonale, while Pluscarden had 6 monks. Pluscarden had the better buildings, so John Bonale and his 2 monks moved to Pluscarden where he became Prior. No doubt they took the best of the furnishings with them! Pluscarden’s link with France was severed and  Dunfermline added the newly united Priories to its jurisdiction. 

Alas, again through lack of numbers, another Urquhart Church has had to be closed but again the best of the furnishings – the Elders’ Chairs and other seating – have gone to Pluscarden where they are in active service.

Much more might be known regarding Urquhart Priory had the Wolf of Badenoch not destroyed charters and letters 600 years ago when he burned Elgin Cathedral.