All Saints, on the north west corner of Cluny Square in Buckie, is the fourth building, other than private houses, barns, kilns and outbuildings to accommodate the Episcopalians of the old Rathven Parish which comprised the Enzie, Arradoul and the coastal area between Portgordon and Portknockie.

The Church was erected in 1876, but the Scottish Episcopal Church as a distinct group in the religious  spectrum of Scotland, dates from 1689.

Scotland was evangelised by the Celtic missionaries: Ninian, Patrick, Kentigern, Columba and the local saints: Palladius, Machar, Devenick, Ternan, Drostan and Congan. By the early eighth century, the Gospel had reached the whole of the north of Scotland, with the Bishopric of Aberdeen dating from the eleventh century at Mortlach near Dufftown and then being translated to St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen during the reign of King and Saint David I. The earliest references to the Church in Rathven are early thirteenth century in a deed establishing a leper hospital. The parish was served from the thriving collegiate burgh church at Cullen, where one of the canons had responsibility for Rathven. The history of the Church and Churchyard is well documented by the late Dr Wm Cramond, Schoolmaster at Cullen, in his book “The Church and Churchyard at Rathven” being a series of articles first published in the Banffshire Advertiser in the 1880’s and reprinted in 1930 and thereafter bound and published. Although long out of print the local libraries hold copies and it should be referred to for the period prior to 1751. St Margaret of Scotland used her influence as Queen (d.1093) to bring the Celtic Church into conformity with the rest of the Western Church, and Scotland remained subject to papal jurisdiction until 1651, when the Scots Parliament severed the religious connection with Rome. Between 1651 and 1689, the presbyterian and episcopalian factions struggled for power within the Church of Scotland.

The struggle came to a climax in 1689 when  James VII & II was deposed from his Scottish and English thrones, to be replaced by William and Mary of Orange. William and Mary called upon the Scottish Bishops to take an oath of allegiance to their new sovereigns. All of the Bishops refused, having previously sworn lifelong loyalty to the House of Stuart: as a result the Presbyterian party in the national church was preferred, and those clergy who held fast to their bishops were rabbled or put out of their churches in favour of ministers who acknowledged the authority of the Presbytery.

Today when the Government issues an order, we expect it to be promulgated quickly and immediately enforced. Not so in 1689, the further away from the centre of government, so the less attention was paid to the rules. On that fateful day in 1689, the Minister of Rathven was the Revd John Hay, who had succeeded Bishop Scroggie in 1669 on the latter’s death. Mr Hay was the brother of the Laird of Rannes, and he was deprived of his charge and manse in 1689 by the Privy Council for failing to pray for the new King and Queen. It took until 1694 for the deposition to take effect. Mr Hay was a good and diligent minister, and after his deposition, the parish was in no hurry to call a presbyterian minister. The heritors and elders under the leadership of the Rannes family played for time by presenting men of traditional and episcopalian leanings with the result the Presbytery refused to institute their nominee.. In the meantime the loyal Jacobite folk of Rathven went to the Rannes family house where Mr Hay continued to preach and celebrate the Eucharist in the Episcopalian manner

Finally in 1699, the presbytery of Fordyce gave the “call” to Mr William Chalmers of Gartly. The people of Rathven refused to have him – and on 24th April 1700, when the Presbytery attempted to induct him, they were refused access to the Church. It was not until August that Mr Chalmers finally gained access to the Church, and the Presbytery sought to prosecute Mr George Hay of Rannas for harbouring his priest brother.

After four years preaching, and four years persecution of his Episcopalian rival, Mr Chalmers found that none of the heritors and very few of the people came to the Parish Kirk, preferring instead, to resort to the Jacobite (Episcopalian) meeting house to hear Mr Hay. The hapless Mr Chalmers moved in August 1704 to King Edward.

Thereafter, the Presbytery were unable to find a successor to Mr Chalmers. The Hay family and Mr Alex. Smith, the Rathven Schoolmaster, were regularly hauled before the Presbytery and still refused to desist from adhering to the old Episcopal faith and practices.

The much beloved The Revd John Hay died in 1711, and this gave the Presbytery a chance to try to impose a presbyterian minister. The Patronage Act 1711, caused some delay to the appointment, so the Presbytery sent suitable ministers for supply preaching, – they found the Church locked and no congregation. One of the  Presbytery, Mr Irvin, took the Sheriff- Depute with him, and demanded the keys from the Beadle. The Beadle replied that the Laird of Rannes had seized them the day before. The Beadle was sent to get the keys, and took his time! Meanwhile the Episcopal clergyman, The Revd George Hay also of the Rannas family, arrived on the scene with the key and took possession of the pulpit. Mr Irvin had to return thwarted.

Eventually the Presbytery persuaded Mr Robert Gordon to accept the call. The Lairds of Rannas, Mildaviot and Oxhill with the parishioners seized the churchyard and again petitioned the Presbytery to allow the Episcopalian George Hay to be appointed. The Presbytery refused the petition, but still could not get access to the Church, so they ordained Mr Gordon at Boyndie some 15 miles away on 27th March 1715. The Presbytery then arranged for the Episcopal minister – George Hay – to be indicted before the Circuit Court at Aberdeen for unlawful Episcopalian preaching. He was released on promising not to preach at Rathven or within three miles. The Sheriff of Banffshire – The Earl of Findlater – was then ordered by the judges to take all steps including the use of the Yeomanry to ensure that Mr Gordon was inducted. In 1715, the Sheriff with soldiers fought off a huge crowd of parishioners to allow Mr Gordon access to an empty church. After a contest of eleven years, the Presbytery had a church, but no congregation.

The people of Rathven, and of much of the North East, were loyal to the Episcopal Church, preferring its modes of worship, but more particularly being appreciative of the benign orderly well regulated state of affairs which had prevailed since 1661.

The year 1715 marked a turning point in the history of the Episcopal Church. Whilst its ministers were ejected in 1689, there was still much popular support for them, and in 1711, Queen Anne procured the passing of the Toleration Act which gave protection to Episcopal ministers prepared to pray for the Queen by name, and prepared to use the English Liturgy. Not that Jacobite clergy like Mr Hay were going to take advantage of this concession. Yet in 1715 the Episcopalians rose in support of James III, The Old Pretender, and naturally the Laird and people of Rathven took part in the 1715 rising. Mr Gordon, the presbyterian minister, had to flee for his life, to return in 1716, but finding himself unable to persuade the people to accept his ministrations, he died a broken man in 1720.

It took the Presbytery three years before the Revd Andrew Ker from the Kirkwall second charge was prepared to accept the call to fill the vacancy at Rathven. Mr Ker set about persecuting the Episcopalian faction with a vengeance. A young man, The Revd William Longmuir – recently  ordained deacon by Bp Gadederar, was officiating in private houses and was refusing to pray for King George by name. Mr Ker was assisted in his cause by the 1719 Act which required Episcopal clergymen to take oaths of allegiance to the House of Hanover and to pray for King George by name. Jacobite clergy  were unwilling to do this, and were consequently liable to be imprisoned for six months during which their meeting house would be suppressed by the authorities . Mr Longmuir, however, was well protected by the Hay family of Rannas; and it was most fortunate that Mr Ker was found guilty of simony, lost all respect in the Parish, seemed incapable of retaining even the few his predecessor had left, and died in 1751.

In the meantime under the leadership of Mr Longmuir and thereafter The Revd James Willox, the Episcopalian faction had erected a chapel  at the eighteenth milepost on the old road from Banff adjacent to where the road crossed the Buckie Burn, that is probably opposite where the Inchgower Distillery now stands. The Revd William Mitchell took up duty in 1744, and this first chapel was burnt in 1746 by the Duke of Cumberland on his way to Culloden.

Culloden was a sad day for the Episcopal Church: the defeat of the Young Pretender and the  failure of both the 1715 and 1745 risings left the Episcopal Church in a perilous position – condemned collectively as traitors and subjected to stringent persecution in an attempt to stamp out Episcopacy in Scotland.

It became an offence for the clergy to officiate to more than four persons at any one time, with six months imprisonment for the first offence and transportation for life for a second offence. The laity were subjected to fine, imprisonment and loss of civil rights. The Laird of Rannas was “out” in the 1745 rising and was still in hiding when Mr Ker died in 1751.It was not surprising that some folk agreed in 1751 to submit to the discipline of the Kirk and a new Presbyterian minister – The Revd George Grant on his appointment in 1751.

Yet The Revd William Mitchell continued to minister to his still loyal Episcopalian flock from a kiln on the farm of Barhill and in private houses between Portsoy and Fochabers. Some of the Communion Tokens held in All Saints date from this period and one survives from the time of John Hay of Rannas. Naturally the persecuted remnant kept a low public profile, yet the baptismal registers, of which both a microfiche and a photocopy are held in the local Studies section of the Public Library at Elgin, show considerable activity!

By 1772, when the persecution was slackening, a second chapel had been established at Arradoul, it may well have been no more than the kitchen of the Priest’s house. Dean Rankin in his “Sketches of the History of the Church in Scotland” noted that  Bp Torrey of St Andrew’s who died at Peterhead in 1851  had spoken of celebrating the Liturgy as a young priest at Arradoul in the Enzie in 1782  on the table of the  farm kitchen scoured for the occasion.

The Presbytery Minutes of 1783 record that both the R.C.s and the Non-Jurors have very genteel accommodation for their congregations namely the R.C. Chapel of St Gregory at Preshome and the third Episcopalian Chapel at Arradoul, which was a “proper” chapel, standing East/West with a Communion Table standing under the  Pulpit which was situated against the north wall with rough hewn forms or  benches for the worshippers, located on a now overgrown road to the rear of Arradoul House.

Bp Torrey left for Peterhead in 1789. He was succeeded by The Revd Alexander Shand, later Dean of the Diocese, who was most diligent in catechising the young. An Episcopalian of the old school, Dean Shand, as one of the old Jacobite clergy, preferred the traditional black preaching gown and railed against the Surplice which he regarded as an anglicising intrusion forced upon the Episcopal Church as part of the price of reunion with the “Qualified” Chapels at the Synod of Laurencekirk in 1804. Ultimately he accepted the garb and wore it with reluctance when it was recommended by the Canon Law of the Church in 1811. He served the parish well, and it is a tribute to his sound instruction that the congregation, after his death in 1835, survived the short and unsympathetic ministry of an evangelical angliciser: The Revd Edward Lillington, who was presented to the congregation by the new Laird, Mr Gordon of Cairnfield.

Mr Gordon who succeeded his Father, had very different views about the Church from his Father and Dean Shand. In a series of letters exchanged in the Scottish Guardian of 1889 between The Revd J.R Leslie as Rector of Buckie, and a Mr Archibald, the chronicler of the history of Holy Trinity Keith, light has been shed on a difficult period of congregational history. It would appear that the young Mr Gordon disagreed violently with Dean Shand over the latter’s unbending insistence on the use of the Scottish Communion Office of 1764. In  miniature,  the bitter controversy which dominated the Episcopal Church in the 19th century over whether the Scottish or English Communion Office should be used, and which gave the excuse for the Drummondite schism was to erupt at Arradoul. Mr Lillington’s ministry was short, and soon after marrying Mr Gordon’s daughter, having served the congregation for eighteen months, he left for preferment in England.

The new incumbent was The Revd John Moir, later Rector of Jedburgh and Dean of Glasgow and Galloway, who by diligent visiting and pastoral work began to restore the congregation, until he left in 1840.

Mr Moir was succeeded in 1840 by The Revd William Christie, afterwards chaplain at the Gordon Chapel, Fochabers from 1854 and Dean of the Diocese of Moray. The Arradoul  chapel served until 1844 when the Priest and Laird  disagreed violently – indeed it may well have been over the question  as to whether the Scottish or English Communion Office was to be used, or possibly, given that the Drummondite Schism had just erupted the previous year, over loyalty to the Bishop. The priest, having stood his ground in the dispute, the laird, having discovered that the congregation had no legal title to the land on which the chapel stood, which was hardly surprising given that they were a proscribed organisation when the chapel was erected, in pique – summarily ejected them, demolished the chapel, planted the land out for woodland and went the round of the Presbyterian Churches.

The displaced congregation migrated to a former Wesleyan Mission Hut in Low Street in the newly forming community which was to become in due course the Burgh of Buckie. The author of the congregational history published in 1903, reckoned that Mr Moir first commenced services in Buckie and found a former Wesleyan Chapel to accommodate the Mission, and that this building provided a home for the congregation after 1844. The other view based on the correspondence in the Scottish Guardian, and Mr Leslie claimed to have interviewed parishioners who recalled the events, is that the actions of the Laird left the congregation homeless, and the Mission house was acquired very hurriedly by the then priest, Mr Christie, when faced with this crisis. The enforced closure of the Chapel at Arradoul and the consequent transfer of worship to Buckie scattered the Enzie and Portgordon members of the Congregation

The accommodation in Low Street left a lot to be desired being described by The Elgin Courant of 1st June 1875 as”worn out thirty years ago, and was more like a carpenter’s shop than a place of worship”

The Scottish Guardian of 17th November 1876 illustrated the poor state of the Low Street Chapel by recounting an anecdote;

“An Aberdeen clergyman who was one day in Buckie for the first time, inquired for the Episcopal Church, and was directed to the locality, but passed the building three times before suspecting that he was in the neighbourhood of a place of worship. The truth is, externally, the house is little better than a barn with crumbling clay walls, and internally uncomfortable in the last degree, neither air nor watertight.”

On Mr Christie’s departure to Fochabers, The Revd Alexander Troup was appointed Rector in 1855. He established a school which lasted for his incumbency, and in view of the state of the chapel an appeal was raised in 1867 for funds to build a purpose built church. In 1871, he was succeeded by the Revd A. Temple, who was in turn followed in 1874 by the Revd J. R. Leslie from Portsoy.

The opening and simultaneous consecration of the new church on All Saint’s Day 1876 was reported at some length in both the Banffshire Journal and in the Scottish Guardian. The account in the Scottish Guardian of 17th November 1876 corroborates that of the BanffshireJournal. Indeed it would appear that both had the benefit of the same press release for some of the details, but the Scottish Guardian was better attuned to the niceties of ecclesiastical practice and is probably the more accurate account.

The site for the Church and parsonage was gifted by Mr Gordon of Cluny, Mrs Gordon contributed 400 guineas of the £2000 raised and was to be a substantial benefactor of the Church, the balance being raised by a poor congregation composed exclusively of fishermen and individuals of the “poor and labouring classes” who looked to the further generosity of friends to assist them in completing the Church.

Lord Forbes (a noted Tractarian) contributed the original jewelled and enamelled Altar Cross, and the hymn books were donated by the proprietors of Hymns Ancient and Modern. Within the first  year the Vestry had raised sufficient funds to install and pay for a freestone font  elaborately carved after a design furnished by Mr Leslie of Inverness and Lord Forbes had arranged for the Church Union to donate two altar vases and cruets. On account of the lack of Altar rails Mr Wm Perry made a set. A credence bracket made by Messrs Cox and Son of London, removed in the 1951 reordering,  was donated by the Revd G. Boyes of Aberchirder. Mrs Gordon donated a organ (still in use) which was surplus to the requirements of Cluny Castle.

The pulpit and a lectern  were installed in 1892, incandescent lamps followed in 1895,and a polished oak reredos in 1896.

In 1922 Mrs Gordon of Cairnfield donated the Sanctuary Lamp

The Golden Jubilee of the Church saw further gifts, Miss Gordon of Cairnfield donated a brass Processional Cross which was consecrated by the Bishop on 20th October 1924, and a purple Chasuble  on 26th October 1925. In 1926 the then Rector The Revd Samuel Easter donated an oak litany desk, and Mrs Symon donated the stained glass windows in the apse depicting The Blessed Virgin, and SS Peter, John. In the course of the next few years further windows depicting  SS James the Great, Philip, Andrew, Margaret of Scotland, Columba, Patrick and Kentigern were installed together with the Rose window and the three large stained glass windows at the West end of the Church.

1926 also saw the building of the Church Hall deigned by John Watt, Architect. A brass ewer for filling the font wa dedicated on 6th December 1936 in memory of the late James MacIntosh.In 1942 electric lighting was installed in the downstairs of the Rectory. In 1943, a statue of Our Lady was donated by St Olave’s Church, Mitcham the reredos was removed to display the stained glass windows in the apse and electricity was installed in the Church in accordance with a legacy of £100 from the late Robert Grant. In 1948 a telephone was installed in the Rectory and professional photographs of the Church were commissioned. In 1951 under the inspiration of Fr Ernest Brady a marble altar, tabernacle, crucifix and six candlesticks were installed into a reordered sanctuary to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Church’s consecration.

After the sale of the Lady Cathcart Episcopal School to Banff County Council in 1958, funds were released for the refurbishment of the Church and the reinstatement of the railings removed as part of the War effort. Other donations included a ciborium  in memory of Alexander Geddes who was killed in action on Good Friday 1943, an Altar Edition of The English Missal was presented in 1955 in memory of Alexander Cowie, who was at the time of his death in 1955 the last surviving member of the Congregation to have been baptised in the Low Street Chapel, a book of Collects and Readings  in memory of Ronald John Costello who died in 1971, a lavabo dish and jug  in memory of Mona Burnett who died in 1975, a set of green vestments in memory of Reginald Samuel Barrett who died in 1988, a sick communion set in memory of the late Agnes and Mary Taylor who died in 1994  and a choir copy of the Scottish Prayer Book (1929) in memory of Hilda Grayson sometime Lay Elector who died in 1995. A small silver bell was given to All Saints in memory of Mary Leel whose funeral in 1959 was the last service conducted in the mission church of St Mary’s Cullen.

In addition to the gifts and donations mentioned, there have been over the years very many legacies, donations and gifts all of which have been greatly appreciated by the congregation.