Newsletter - July 2022

The East Neuk of Fife Preservation Society (SCIO)

Newsletter - July 2022


Annual General Meeting, constitution and appointments
Those of you who attended our 2022 AGM on 29 March in Earlsferry Town Hall will know that we managed to combine getting through a lot of Society business with being royally entertained by Dr Ian Bradley in his amusing talk on pilgrimage in Fife, as well as having a very enjoyable social gathering with over 50 members and guests attending.

The AGM saw the adoption by the membership of a new ENFPS constitution under which the Society meets the requirements of being a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), the Society previously having achieved its SCIO registration from the Charities Regulator. Our registered name is now ‘The East Neuk of Fife Preservation Society (SCIO)’, and our publications will state ‘ENFPS is a Registered SCIO SC051336’. 

The main reason for the change to incorporated status is that it greatly reduces the personal liability risk for office-holders and members. Angus Cameron deserves a huge vote of thanks for his efforts in producing the documentation and securing the registration.

The new constitution requires the appointment of trustees, and those appointed under the SCIO registration were Jim Carstairs, John Beaton, Jane Forbes, Bill Kennaway, Angus Cameron and David Jenkins. The trustees have made the following office holder appointments – Chair Bill Kennaway, Vice Chair Angus Cameron, Secretary Jane Forbes, Treasurer David Jenkins; John Beaton was appointed as Honorary Vice-President.  Trustees automatically retire at future AGMs and may stand for re-election by the membership.

60th Anniversary Celebration
21 May was the date of the Society’s very successful diamond anniversary party to commemorate the founding of Society, held at the Dreel Halls in Anstruther and attended by over 70 members and guests with invited representatives of other NE Fife conservation groups.

The evening included a talk by Christine Palmer of Anstruther Improvements Association (AIA) illustrating how the old St Nicholas church and Town Hall have been converted by AIA into a wonderful community asset that secures the building’s future while at the same time restoring the building’s fabric to an extremely high standard.

A guided tour of the tower was part of the evening, as was renaissance music by Jim Tribble on the virginal. Our President Jim Carstairs thanked retiring chairman John Beaton for his long service and announced John’s appointment as Vice President.

Particular thanks are due to Jane Forbes for organizing the event, to Pat Hughes for creating the exquisite nibbles we enjoyed and to all those members who assisted in providing the food and refreshments. And to Angus Cameron who baked and decorated the magnificent ENFPS birthday cake.

All in all a very memorable evening and a sign that the Society is making a good recovery after covid and can look forward to many more years of robust health.  

East Neuk church closures – Church of Scotland consultation
Press articles in late April reported on a Fife Presbytery consultation document proposing the closure of its churches at St Monans, Pittenweem, Crail, Largo, Kilconquhar, Elie, Pittenweem, Carnbee, Armcroach, Kilrenny and Kingsbarns, plus church halls at some of the above, these to be sold, let or otherwise disposed of within five years.

The document was a draft for consultation with local congregations and therefore open to revision, but the proposals were very specific about the churches to be closed, with a chronic shortage of ministers being the main reason for the drastic action being contemplated.

ENFPS has written formally to the Church of Scotland HQ expressing our concerns at these proposals. Their response was to pass us on to Fife Presbytery for a substantive response which we still await, but they did provide useful information on the closure process and on how CoS would be supportive of local communities benefiting from continued use of the buildings, even if that use is not overtly religious.

Since then we have learned informally that Fife Presbytery’s consultation document is likely to be re-drafted to recognize the heritage issues involved, but that some closures may be unavoidable. In that event ENPS would have an important role in assisting local groups to put together proposals for their buildings to keep them in beneficial community use.

Pittenweem Priory Interpretation boards
ENFPS is looking to take forward a project for interpretation boards at Pittenweem Priory and Tolbooth that would explain the history and importance of these buildings.

The Priory with its Great House, fortified Gatehouse and Prior’s Lodging is one of the few monastic sites in Scotland with its structures relatively complete, and the Tolbooth is the burgh’s most important landmark. But at present there is nothing in Pittenweem to indicate to visitors the historic or architectural significance of the Priory and Tolbooth or of the adjacent St Fillans Cave that was associated with the monastery.

Recent published research on the Priory's religious, political and social history means that we now know a great deal more about its origins, from the earlier monastery on May Island through to its later role as a base for important national figures who were its churchmen and post-reformation noblemen owners. The author of much of this research, Prof Anthony Lodge, is an ENFPS member and would be able to provide much of the content for the proposed interpretation boards.

The interpretation boards we have in mind would explain the historic connection to the earlier monastery on May Island, the original layout of the Priory monastic buildings and how they were adapted post reformation into the Tolbooth and Parish Church.

ENFPS proposes to take the lead in developing an outline scheme for the interpretation boards for consultation with the local community. Funding other than for initial feasibility work would then be sought from conservation and tourism bodies.

Future ENFPS events
SATURDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 2.30pm will see an organised ENFPS visit to LARGO, meeting at Largo Parish Church for a tour of this famous and interesting church and of its churchyard with its historic gravestones and Largo Stone. Lesley Henderson will be showing us the delights of the church organ.  Thereafter there will be a visit to the beautiful EDEN COTTAGE, also in Upper Largo, ending the afternoon there with some light refreshments. ENFPS Secretary Jane Forbes will be sending round full details of the visit and of how to book.

Also we are planning to hold a ENFPS Xmas Social gathering at a location still to be finalized – watch this space


With best wishes
Bill Kennaway