The Church of the Holy Rude was founded in 1129 as the Parish Church of Stirling and built on the Castle rock. In the 19th century, the centre of population drifted downhill into the new suburbs, where many new churches were built. Several of these have since combined, as reflected in the composite names of current congregations. Now in 2009, the Presbytery of Stirling is creating a new linkage between two of the city centre’s congregations, namely the Viewfield Erskine Church and the Holy Rude.
The Church of the Holy Rude dates back to the 15th century and is the second oldest building after the castle and is noted for holding the coronation of the infant King James VI in 1567 when John Knox preached the sermon. Clustered round the Holy Rude are the historic buildings of Old Stirling. Responsibility for these is split between Stirling Council and Historic Scotland, both of whom run energetic tourism initiatives. Stirling Castle currently attracts around 400,000 visits each year, and some 25,000 of these summer visitors call into the Holy Rude which is specially kept open by Welcome Ministry volunteers.
The seating in the main church is completely flexible, as there are no fixed pews. Consequently, the church provides the third largest public hall in Stirling city, after the Council owned Albert Halls and the Great Hall in the castle. This follows from its original role as the Parish Kirk of Old Stirling, where the public gathered for all big occasions. The Kirk Session and congregation are working to restore this ethos, where the people of Stirling will feel that the church belongs to them, and have opened the church to community Fayres as well as to concerts, organ recitals and National Remembrance services.
Special Services are held annually. In the past year the Church has been increasingly used by the Armed Services e.g. Poppy Scotland launched their appeal from Stirling Castle in 2008 and there was a Service in the Church with approximately 450 in attendance. Other special services:-
Kirkin’ of the Council – usually May or June
Remembrance Sunday – November
Service of Lessons and Carols – December
Christmas Eve – Watchnight – approximately 250 attended this year.