New Machar Parish Church is a charity registered in Scotland SC024017

Interim Moderator: Rev Alisa McDonald

Useful Contact Numbers

Church Role



Session Clerk

Bill Campbell



John Blanksby

Church Officer

Lewis Taylor



Youth & Children’s Ministry

Karen Creswell


Gift Aid/Freewill Offering

Jeff Burns


Fabric Convenor

John Gordon


Safeguarding Contact

Karen Creswell




1637 modern name of New Machar appears;
1641 chaplain of Monykebbock removed from his chapel there to be the parish priest at the new church in the village;
1781 the (old) manse was built;
1791 original church replaced by a plain rectangular building with round windows at each end, and galleries on 3 sides;
1840 (old) manse thoroughly renovated;
1843 Disruption
1913 church renovated and reconstructed: new seating, organ and Communion Table installed.
1929 Reunion New Machar – 2 parishes: East (Established); West (ex. U.F.)
1932 Parishes united on the death of D. R. Kerr (West Parish). East Parish once again the Parish Church.
1986 new manse.
1991 Bicentenary of church building.
2007 Rev. Ian Dryden officially opened the new extension to the church. 08 April (Easter Day).

The history of New Machar church stretches over 380 years. Below we provide an extract from a booklet prepared by Mrs.J.B. Burnett, 'Derby Cottage' which was created for the Special Village Fete held on 2 May 1987.

Further information can be found in People and Places in Newmachar Past and Present by Roy Bridges published by the Parish of Newmachar Community Council (1 Oct. 2001) which is available for purchase from Amazon. 


The parish church of New Machar was taken out of the older larger parish dominated by the Cathedral of St. Machar, situated on the banks of the river Don. St. Machar's Cathedral is traditionally sited where the river ran a course shaped like a Shepherd's Crook, this being the pastoral emblem of Christianity, shown in the shape of the Bishop's staff of office.

Early registers refer to the 'Upper Parochin' of St. Machar, and later to Upper Machar. The modern name of New Machar appears in 1637 and in 1641 the chaplain of Monycabock was removed from his chapel there to be the parish priest at the new church in the village. In fact, research shows that the chapel at Moneykebbock as it is now called, is the older established place of worship. It was founded by St. Colm (the name is sometimes rendered St. Comb), who was a disciple of St. Drostan, the founder of pictish Christianity, in the 11th Century.

Three other chapels were established in the parish subsequently, during the Middle ages; one to the Virgin Mary at Straloch, another to the Virgin at Clubs Goval, one at Bishop's Manor on a small Island in Loch Goul, on the Bishop's Loch. The chapel at Straloch is now in ruin, but in 1908 a small chapel to St. Mary was built near the Manor House.

In the village, the original 17th Century church was replaced by the present church, which was built in 1791, parallel with the 10 mile stone on the main road from Aberdeen. It was a plain rectangular building, with round windows at each end and galleries round three sides of the interior. The original entrance was at the Belfry end of the church, approached by the side gate. The new and present entrance was added in 1840 and included the stairs vestry and double doors.

The Manse was built a little earlier, in 1781, and was thoroughly renovated in 1840, when the very typically Victorian Bay Windows were added.

As a matter of interest - in the 19th Century, the manse was valued at £25. The Stipend amounted to £66.2.6., and amounts of the Glebe produce, such as various beer oats and barley were all carefully assessed as part of the Living. Also of interest is the fact that in 1871 the years church collection was noted as £25.14.11 ¾d., of which £10 was expended in the relief of the poor.

In 1843 the Free Church was built, which stood, until 1975 where the shop 'Home Care' now is. It became successively the United Free Church, then the Church of Scotland and was finally re-united with the Parish Church in 1932. In 1858 the Episcopal Church at Whiterashes was the gift of Major Ramsay of Straloch. It has Memorial Windows by Sir Ninian Comper.

The new Cemetery to the south of the Parish Church was opened in 1905 and has a War Memorial beside the graves of 58 Sailors of the Royal Navy, who died at Kingseat Hospital when it was a Naval Hospital during the War.

The Parish Church was renovated and reconstructed in 1913, with new seating, organ and Communion Table installed. A Colourful Stained Glass Window showing St. Machar and aspects of parochial history was designed by Or. Douglas Strachan and was the gift of Mrs. Margaret Crombie in 1915 as a family memorial. The rest of the Windows are of paned, leaded, light-coloured glass; those on the south side of the church noticeably not as fine as those opposite, because in the days of the old three-sided gallery they would have been less in the view of the congregation.

There were once three "Sabbath Schools' as recorded in 1840 but now only one centred in the parish church, meeting in the Day School with whom the church has established strong links.

The Parish Church of New Machar is an officially listed original late 18th Century building; although altered and added to it remains a landmark, sited as it is on a slight rise in the centre of the village. With the rapid expansion of the population and numbers of houses springing up, creating outlying additions to the village, it is hoped the Church will remain symbolically the centre, the outward sign of a growing community still with a heart and soul. (Researched and written by J.M. Burnett).

Some interesting notes -- There were several schools in the Parish until recent years -- Disblair- Whiterashes - Parkhill Craigie. Now only the New Machar Primary School caters for the children from these areas.

The Population of the Parish - in 17 55 - 1,911; in 1782 1,000; in 1811 - 945; in 1901 - 926. The population was expected to rise to over 2,000 by the 1980's.

According to old records the Parish rises from 128 feet above sea level at Dyce bridge to 190ft at Rosehall; the Church is 300ft; New Lodge Straloch 326 ft; the wood at Highlands is 486 ft and the highest point is given as Changehill - 620 ft.

The Parish used to be included in the Aberdeen Presbytery but with regionalisation was put into the Gordon District and therefore the Presbytery is now the Gordon Presbytery. At the present time it meets at lnverurie. 


Our parish name is derived from the name o the Church, which in turn was taken from the Patron Saint of Aberdeen, St. Machar. He was born in Ireland and lived between A.D. 554 594. His parents were Christians and he was baptised by St. Colman. He was brought up in the household of his godfather, an Irish Chieftain of Connaught and at an early age showed great goodness.

He became a pupil of St. Columba in early manhood and was given the name Machar by him and followed the great missionary saint to Scotland where they settled and built a community in monastic style on the Isle of Iona. From there St. Machar went to evangelise Mull. He did return to Iona but he showed himself to be such an outstanding pupil, already credited with miracles, that he aroused jealousy among the brothers of St. Columba's community and the young man, with the blessing and help of his great master, set off for the North of Scotland to establish his own church. He arrived near Aberdeen, and finding a site near where the river flowed in the curve of a Bishop's crozier - as Columba had directed him - he drew a company of disciples around him and built his first church, a wooden one.

He laboured hard and long to bring the Scriptures, which he worked at transcribing himself, to the local people, and to rid them of Pagan ways. There are many stories of miracles he, performed during this period, healing the blind and sick, defeating wizards and wild boars and making friends always.

After many years he heard St. Columba intended to make the· pilgrimage to Rome so the two came together and the journey was made. They were received by Pope Gregory, the great Celtic Pope, who appointed Machar, Bishop of the Picts for life.

On their homeward journey Columba and Machar went by Uny of Tours in France as they venerated St. Martin who is buried there. Machar was asked to stay in Tours: he was unwilling to stay at first but Columba persuaded him to answer this call before he himself returned to Scotland.

For three and a half years Machar fulfilled his Episcopal duties in Tours. There he died, comforted by a Vision of the Cross, and with Jesus and His disciples and St. Martin appearing at the head of his bed. He was buried beside St. Martin. 


Stained Glass Window

The stained glass window was gifted by Miss M. Crombie of Coval. It was dedicated on 10th April, 1916 by the Rev. Professor Henry, Cowan D.D., L.L.D. to the Glory of God and to the Memory of her Father and Mother, Mr. & Mrs. James Crombie and of her Sister Catherine.

Mr. Douglas Strachan was the Artist. The two Main panels feature the figure of St. Machar and the Virgin Mary. SL Machar holds his staff against the background of a bend in the river Don opposite St Machar Cathedral. The Virgin Mary holds the Infant Christ and is surrounded by Angelic Cherubs. Above these two panels stands 'the Golden pot' with silver spikes and three white lilies, one in full bloom, one half bloom and the other in bud. 

The pot- the Arms of the Bishop's Burgh of Old Aberdeen- is still incorporated in Our University Coat of Arms. Below the two Central panels and stretching horizontally all across the window, is the Tableau of King William the Lion handing to Bishop Matthew the Charter of Confirmation confirming him in the gifts of lands and others gifted by his grand father King David I who founded and endowed so many of our Scottish Churches, Holyrood, Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh and who, for his generosity to the Church was styled by James I as "the Sair Saint for the Crown'. 

William the Lion reigned from 1155 to 1214 and the Charter of Confirmation which he is handing to Bishop Matthew was granted in the fifth year of his reign. The Charter mentioned Goule (now Goval) Murcroft, Kinmundy, Mameulah etc., aII well-known place names around us here. Beneath the horizontal panel are two insets. One with a view of the River Don at Coval, the other of Loch Goule in this Parish, east of Parkhill, On this Loch stands a small island on which the Bishop of Aberdeen had his country Palace with access by a wooden bridge. Thus the Loch is known as 'the Bishop's loch'. At the very bottom of the window are the words of the Dedication.

Every possible effort has been made to make the best possible. use of our church. In October 1968 a new flagstone path was laid. Early in 1969 an Organ fund was launched. Many members opened their homes for teas etc. Over £450 was raised and a new Thomas Electronic Organ was purchased. The new organ was installed before the removal of the old pipe organ.

The Pipe Organ was one or the many Carnegie Organs installed in Scotland in the early 1900's. The possibility of repairing it was looked into but the estimate then was £3000. One very talented organist who visited us, said "You don't play that organ, you fight it".

One or the sets of pipes was sold amongst the other parts and some money was towards the cost of the new organ. With the removal of the organ, the chancel was enlarged, new carpeting was laid, the steps now visible were opened up and the Communion Table that had sat over the steps because of lack or room in front of the organ was put back to its present position. The seating was cleaned off and revarnished with polyurethane. The entrance hall and staircase was repainted and the steps carpeted. Carpet tiles being laid over the red tile floor.

The seating under the gallery was carefully dismantled, curtain material was bought and made up by a member. Stacking chairs were purchased by the Woman's Guild. We now have an area useful for the Guild, small services and other meetings. A new carpet was purchased for the aisle from a small bequest. In 1978 another gift enabled us to insulate the roof area. The guild also made it possible to cover the outside of the leaded windows with perspex. The untidy banking outside the gate alongside the graveyard was removed and curbstones and cobblestones cemented in. Nearly all this work was done by voluntary help. One of the outstanding noticeable changes has been the installing of a back lighted cross. This is the focal point of worship. We are very proud of our lovely Church and glad that so many visitors comment so favourably.

The most recent changes have included the creating of a much needed 'kitchen' upstairs in the back-room above the Vestry. Water was piped and waste pipe led outside to a drain. Having been given a stainless sink-top and some working surface storage was made for crockery. Trays were made so that a given number of sets of dishes could be stored and carried downstairs to the back area of the church.

A new Church of Scotland 'WELCOME' Board was purchased and erected on the church wall so as to be clearly seen from the road area.

NEW NOTICE BOARDS were erected inside under the gallery for Posters and other notices• especially Sunday School Work. This is used regularly by the Sunday School Superintendent and her teacher staff. (More interest should be shown in this by members of the congregation on a Sunday). 


Records of the 'Ministers' in 'Upper Machar/New Machar' go back to 1570 when ALEXANDER GARIOCH was appointed a Reader November 1570 to 1574.

There were three other Readers up to 1626, when JAMES HERVIE or HERVEY was admitted to this charge.

1626 – 1649 James Hervey
1649 – 1652 James Chalmers
1654 – 1663 George Melvill
1665 – 1669 Alexander Leask
1672 – 1675 James Garden
1687 – 1704 George Seaton
1706 – 1716 William Mitchell
1717 – 1728 John Bisset
1729 – 1736 Thomas Ray
1737 – 1752 Thomas Reid
1752 – 1773 John Maxwell
1774 – 1781 Robert Lumsden
1782 – 1804 William Stronach
1804 – 1840 Alexander Simpson
1840 – 1843 George Moir (out at Disruption)
1843 – 1866 Alexander Allan
1866 – 1901 William Robertson Bruce
1902 – 1904 Robert Nelson
1904 – 1927 Alexander Hood Smith
1927 – 1941 Andrew M. M. Giles (Reunion 1929; East & West Parishes united 1932 on death of D. R. Kerr)
1942 - 1947 Henry Thornton
1948 - 1958 Harold Ross
1959 - 1962 John Gibson
1963 - 1968 John M. Paterson
1968 - 1988 William Claydon
1988 - 2001 Ian Dryden
2001 - 2008 Manson Merchant
2010 - 2021 Douglas McNab


New Machar Parish Church
16 School Road, Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, AB21 0WB


Phone: 01651 869375
Mobile: 07434686851


Please send us your ideas, bug reports, suggestions! Any feedback would be appreciated.