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History

A late Gothic place of worship

Castle Semple Collegiate Church was founded in 1504. The building itself was probably a remodelled existing building, possibly a proprietary chapel. It had lands and income to support:

  • a provost
  • six chaplains
  • two choir boys
  • a sacristan

The remains of the buildings accommodating the priests and officials are likely buried in the area around the church, along with a cemetery.

The church’s founder, John, Lord Sempill, intended the church to accommodate a spectacular tomb for himself and his wife. Sempill was killed fighting the English at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The church was extended to accommodate his tomb in a three-sided apse on the east side.

Although it’s now without its effigy, Sempill’s tomb remains one of the finest examples of a medieval burial monument in Scotland.

Passage to heaven

The sole purpose of Castle Semple Collegiate Church was providing a place for priests to perform mass, for the benefit of the founding family. It illustrates the important attached in the medieval period to ensuring the speedy passage of souls through purgatory and into heaven.

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