Lauder Old Parish Church
Lauder Old Parish Church is unique. It is the only cruciform church with an octagonal central tower in Scotland.
Built in 1673 to replace the Lauder Old Parish Church, which was situated next to where Thirlestane Castle now stands, much of the stonework of the old church was used for the construction of the new. As Thirlestane was being built at the time, the same architect, Sir William Bruce, famous for his design of Holyrood House, undertook the new church. It is thought that the four equal armed style may originate from a French design - many of the masons employed to work on Thirlestane came from Belleroy in France where there is a similarly styled church.
There were only two lofts at this time, with external stairs for entry - the West aisle having the Lauderdale Loft, and the North aisle the Burgess or Town Loft. Later a Tweeddale Gallery was added above the choir in the East aisle and a Trabrown Gallery in the South aisle. Entry to those was from inside the church.
Major renovations with the creation of new porches and entrances to enlarge the seating capacity were carried out in 1820, and further renovation in 1856, 1864 and in 1973. The crests of the holders of the four galleries were added in the 1973 renovation.
In 1831 a hearse house and vestry was built between the church and Mid Row. The hearse belonged to the parish and was rented out with the income going to the church. This building has now been converted into a much used Church Centre. At the same time a mort-house to protect recent burials from the body snatchers was built in the graveyard. This building has long since vanished but was a necessary protection at that time.
Inside the church, with its walls recently redecorated, time has stood still with the old numbered box pews still in use, dark varnish and all! These are probably the most uncomfortable seats ever designed, and there is talk of making legroom more comfortable by removing some of the pews. Originally able to seat some 750 people, that number is rarely needed today.
The pulpit dates from 1820, the Communion Table was gifted in memory of Captain George McDougal killed in 1944, and the new communion dais installed in 1973. Above the communion dais, filling the Tweeddale gallery, is the pipe organ which came from an Aberdeen church and was rebuilt by a local organ builder.
There are two Rolls of Honour from the two World Wars, one coming from the now demolished West Church, which was closed in 1955.
The Bell is inscribed "Given by Charles Maitland of Halton, his Majesty's Treasurer Depute, 1681, Recast by James, Earl of Lauderdale, out of the vacant stepedns 1751, John Milne Fecit Edin" and " Recast again by Robert Watson newcastle upon Tyne 1834".
The Church is open to the public most days from 9am to 5pm, but during the winter months check with the Minister in advance.
The Church is an "A" listed building, and has wheelchair access, toilet facilities, and a hearing loop system.
Sunday service is at 11.30am.