St. Mungo’s Parish Church :
The story of a church is the story of a people’s journey in
faith from one generation to another. The Christian Community
in Penicuik may well have its beginnings in the missionary
work of St. Mungo (Kentigern) in the latter part of the 6th.
century. There are documented references about a church being
here by the 12th. century. Indeed in 1296 the local priest
Walter Edgar along with the Laird, Hugh de Penicok, had to
swear loyalty to Edward 1 at Berwick during the Scottish wars
of independence. The church ruins in the cemetery are largely
the pre-reformation building as it evolved and was added to
(as late as 1733 Sir John Clerk added an aisle to the
building). The tower still holds a 5 cwt. bronze bell gifted
and dated 1680. Shockingly this is also the site of the 1629
witch burnings, fuelled by the hysteria set in motion by an
insecure King James VI, misguided religious leaders and overly
diligent civil authorities. We know the names but not much
more about these poor women who were so cruelly treated in the
name of God and of justice. Thankfully we live in more
The late 18th. century saw the town grow and church records
show frequent arguing of the heritors over whose tenants were
taking up too much room in the Kirk on a Sunday. Happily the
foundation stone for a new church was laid on August 15th.
1770 in the yard of the Schoolmaster’s house. Built in the
fashionable neoclassical style, it was a 'T' shaped building
with an impressive portico surmounted by a nicely incised
Cross. Some time later some locals tried to pull down, what
they considered a 'papish' symbol (the Cross), but fortunately
they never succeeded.
Although added to, throughout the 19th. century, it is
basically the same Church building used by the St. Mungo’s
folk to this day. By mid 19th. century musical instruments
were allowed to be in Scottish Churches. A fine pipe organ by
Miller of Perth was installed in 1884 and it serves as a fine
accompaniment to the people’s praise to this day. One can
wonder what Mr. John Knox would have thought of this “Kist of
Whistles” but the congregation are very pleased with it. Along
with a good organist and choir we love our hymn singing. The
clock in the pediment originally placed in 1884 has been
replaced by modern workings—a gift from the British Legion.
The 20th. century saw St. Mungo’s as a thriving congregation
with a great amount of youth work including a very large
Sunday School, Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade.
Now in these early years of the 21st. century very different
challenges face the church nationally and locally. How do we
proclaim and live out the Gospel in the materialistic milieu
of our day, in a world very divided by the 'haves' and the
Today Penicuik has several churches each with its own
distinctive worship style and scope of outreach. St. Mungo’s
is playing her part, in being a congregation of the Church of
Scotland, with an openness to seek where and how
God’s spirit is leading us forward as his Church for the
future. Constant changes and new styles, but, the same ever
life-giving message of Christ.
If you would like to join us in this journey of faith, hope
and serving God, we’d be delighted to have you join us : so
that together we can make a difference in our town and our
world for Christ’s sake.