Paisley Abbey :: Shared Description

The abbey's website LinkExternal link provides a summary of its history, and other information.

It is thought that an early religious community was established at Paisley by St Mirin. In the twelfth century, Walter FitzAlan, High Steward of Scotland, had a priory established on his lands in Paisley, to be founded by monks of the Cluniac order; one of Walter's charters confirms certain lands "to God and Saint Mary, and the church of St James, and St Mirin, and St Myldburge de Passelet [Paisley], and to the priors and monks serving God there according to the order of Clugny".

In its design, the original priory was modelled on the Abbey of Cérise in France. The religious establishment at Paisley was elevated to the status of an abbey in 1245, after lengthy negotiations.

The abbey suffered grievous damage during the Wars of Independence: according to an annal entry (here translated from the original Latin), "in this year, 1307, the English burnt the Monastery of Paisley"; nothing remained but blackened walls. Some repair work was started in 1317, but little progress was made for several decades: however, by 1389-90, we have notice of glass being purchased for the abbey's windows, showing that repairs were then well under way.

A great deal of rebuilding was carried out during the time of Abbot Thomas Tervas (mid-fifteenth century), and, a little later, by Abbot George Shaw. The buildings appear to have been damaged by fire towards the end of the same century. It also seems that, at some point in the abbey's history, its central tower collapsed, damaging adjacent structures.

At the time of the Reformation (1560), the damage done to the abbey was limited, perhaps partly because the building was already in poor condition.

Subsequent developments will not be described here in detail, but it is worth noting several restorations of the abbey that were carried out in recent centuries: (1) 1788-89, under the supervision of Dr Robert Boog, minister of the First Charge at the Abbey (Boog was also responsible for piecing together what is now called the Tomb of Marjorie Bruce); (2) 1859-62, under ministers Andrew Wilson and J Cameron Lees; (3) 1898-1907, under the ministers Thomas Gentles and J B Dalgety; and (4) 1912-28 (but interrupted in 1918 by the War), under A M Maclean and W Fulton. See Howell, cited below, for details.

In the 1990s, the Great Drain below the abbey was rediscovered (see Malden, cited below); it has subsequently yielded many interesting artefacts, some of which are now displayed in the Sacristy Museum, within the abbey.

Selected references:

▪ "Historical Description of the Abbey and Town of Paisley", Charles Mackie (1835).
▪ "The Abbey of Paisley", J Cameron Lees (1878).
▪ "Paisley Abbey: Its History, Architecture, & Art", Rev A R Howell (1929).
▪ "The Monastery and Abbey of Paisley" (various contributors), edited by John Malden (2000).
by Lairich Rig
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NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: the Hamilton Memorial Tablet by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey by Thomas Nugent
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: the former Abbey Churchyard by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Old well beside Paisley Abbey by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Old gravestone by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: the cloisters by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Gravestone of John Campbell by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Place of Paisley by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Old well beside Paisley Abbey by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: the choir by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: the cloisters by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: the choir by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: gravestone of Thomas Peter by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: tomb of King Robert III by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : The Barochan Cross by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: tomb of Marjory Bruce by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : War Memorial beside Paisley Abbey by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: bench mark by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: the sedilia and piscina by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: the south transept by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Paisley Abbey: gargoyles by Lairich Rig
NS4863 : Gravestone of William Algeo by Lairich Rig

... and 10 more images.

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Created: Mon, 30 Sep 2013, Updated: Mon, 10 Nov 2014

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