Childhood Memories of St Monans
In the main for fishermen and boatbuilders Sunday was a day of rest with the wartime auxiliary services training taking place after the church services or on Saturday. St Monans was of course a very religious place having many places of worship ranging from the main Church, the Church of Scotland, the Free Church, the Congregational Church, the Salvation Army and many meeting rooms for a number of Brethren and other followers. The large number of religious establishments gave rise to the village being known as “The Holy City” The picture below is of St Monance Parish Church, the oldest church in Scotland still in regular use. Known as “The Auld Kirk”, it is reputedly built by King David II, Son of King Robert The Bruce, after being shipwrecked nearby. It was thought to have been completed in 1369. But again, please refer to Aitken Fyall’s excellent book “St Monans History Customs and Superstitions” for full and detailed information. This was where I was christened, where my father was an Elder, where I was a member of the Choir and which generally had a great effect on the formative years of my life.
However, next morning as we assembled at the primary school, my friend Robert and I were extracted from the line to be spoken to by the Headmaster ( a very series occurrence in those days) to ensure that similar hilarity didn’t happen in the future! It never did, but so reminded me throughout my life when I read or heard our national bard Robert Burn’s poems “To a Mouse, on turning up her Nest with the Plough, November 1785” or “To a Louse, on seeing one on a Lady’s Bonnet in Church”
It was whilst attending a service at the church when aged about 8 or 9 and sitting with my friend Robert that we noticed when a discarded sweet paper (always used to help the long Minister’s sermon pass a bit quicker) was placed on a small stone plinth adjoining our pew, that the piece of paper suddenly disappeared. This happened on a number of occasions until we noticed a nose of a small mouse protrude from the hole, presumably looking for more sweet papers! Of course this caused great hilarity to the pair of us for the rest of the sermon. Unfortunately for us the headmaster at our school Wilfred Skelding was sitting in the pew in front of us and didn’t appear to be upset by our antics.
The 14th Century Auld Kirk
of St Monans
Grandad is shown here (on the right) in the wheelhouse of the “Camelia” with his crew again probably in the early 1930s’.