by Agnes Smith
My grandfather came to Kinross, as a young man looking for work. He was a shoemaker to trade but he ended up working in the Mill sorting and cleaning the wool. He came from Aberdeenshire and was an Episcopalian before he came to Kinross. He married my grandmother who came from Strathmiglo and they had thirteen children. He died before I was born but I heard so many stories about him it is as if I knew him. He was a founder member of St Paul's and at that time was the only working class man in the congregation. The church was made up of middle and upper class people.
I was baptised in St Paul's in June 1918. When I was old enough (pre school age children were not welcome) I went to church with my mother and cousin Annie: my father died when I was very young and I have no memory of him. We went to Sunday School at 3 pm on Sunday afternoon. By the time I was old enough to go to Sunday School a few more working class families were coming to the church. I have no memory of middle/upper class children coming to the Sunday school when I was there.
Christmas Day was not a public holiday in those days. There was a service in the church at 7 am to allow those who were employed to attend before they went to work. We had a Christmas party in the Sunday School when we got presents from Santa. I still remember a sewing set which I got one Christmas. The Sunday School was very small, the teacher at that time was Miss Peggy Falconer. We also got a prize in June for good attendance and I still have two prayer books one, with Hymns Ancient and Modern and a book which I got in 1928, it is called "The Normous Sunday Story Book". We really appreciated the prizes and presents, which we got from the Sunday School we felt that we were appreciated.
The presents which children received then were nothing like those received by children today. On Christmas Day my 'stocking' would contain a sixpence, an orange, an apple, a crayoning book, some sweets and maybe a doll. The main Christmas present would be something useful like clothes. We had a special Christmas dinner, usually a steak pie; turkey was too expensive. The Presbyterians did not go to church on Christmas day but their children did get Christmas presents and those known to me had a Christmas dinner as we did. There was no Catholic Church in Kinross in those days and we 'Piskies' were the only people who went to church on Christmas day. The emphasis in those days was not on presents and parties and it was more of a religious festival, even the Carols seemed to have more meaning then. I know that things change even in the church and I can accept change but I think that Christmas has changed for the worse, even though it is a public holiday and more people are involved in the celebration.
The Sunday school which was small met in the afternoon, this meant that children above the age of five could be in church from 11 until 12 with their parents and then return at 3pm for Sunday School. It should be remembered that there were very few cars on the road in those days, and the parents of the youngest children would have to walk with them. Sunday must have been a busy day!
I was confirmed at the age of seventeen. It was the custom at that time to wait until children were at least fifteen years old, to try to ensure that they understood what they were doing. This practice of waiting for this level of maturity continued for at least the next generation. My two daughters were confirmed when they were at college, one in Dundee the other in Edinburgh. Sandy was confirmed when he was in his twenties during the time when Mr. Lynd was Rector. Why did this practice, of waiting for maturity before confirmation, change? Was it a step forward? I was confirmed along with three other girls, we wore long white dresses and veils as if we were brides.
There was a very successful choir in the late nineteen twenties when Mr Elder was organist and choir master. There was no choir during the war years but it was reformed in 1949 when Mr. Ivens became Rector. In those days the choir was for males only, the boys were paid to be in the choir. Some of the boys sang in the choir even though their parents were not members of the church. Was money the main attraction? Did they enjoy being part of a team? Can we learn anything from this for today?
If they were late Mr Ivens would personally chase them up and call for them in his car. He was not only Rector and Choir master but taxi driver as well!!
The more affluent members of the congregation had their own personal pews for which they paid rent. Their name was on a card at the end of the row, marks where the card holders have been are still in evidence. Most of the people who paid for their seats chose to sit near the front, Captain Reid was the exception, he sat on the back seat. No one would dare sit on Captain Reid's seat, but this same person who was so intimidating organised a picnic at his farm during the summer. One of the highlights of this picnic involved searching in the fields for hidden items, the child who found the most was given a prize. I also have fond memories of summer picnics which were held at Kinross House.
The main services on a Sunday alternated between Matins and Communion. I always enjoyed Matins, I liked the singing even when there was no choir to lead the worship. There would often be a service of Evensong especially during the Summer months. These services were well attended and say much for the commitment of the people considering that some may have walked to and from church three times already, if their children were at Sunday school. This was long before the Wimpey estates were built and most people lived at the opposite end of the town. We lived across from the library/Town Hall when I was a child.
In those days the congregation was divided on class lines. Most of the congregation were middle to upper class e.g. doctors lawyers and landowners and the minority were working class. Everybody knew their place and there was very little mixing socially except at the picnics mentioned above and these mainly involved the children. It is in this area that I have seen the biggest change. The Church has become more of a community and there is less evidence of a class barrier.