Holy Rude: Historic church begins new era as visitor attraction

Nestled in the shadow of Stirling Castle, it was once a beloved place of worship for the Stuart Kings and Queens.

But now the Church of the Holy Rude is embarking on a new era with hopes of becoming a top tourist attraction.

The ancient church is steeped in more than 900 years of history, with religious leader John Knox having preached there.

It is also the only active church in Scotland to have witnessed a royal coronation with James VI, son of Mary Queen of Scots, being crowned there in 1567. 

Credit: Whyler Photos

Ancient relics housed within its walls, include a bell that was rung to celebrate both Scotland’s victory at the Battle of Bannockburn and Bruce’s funeral mass as his coffin passed through Stirling on its way to Dunfermline Abbey.

Now it is hoped a new exhibition will turn it into a modern-day visitor attraction.

The new exhibition brings the church’s rich history to life, showcasing its royal connections and the significant spiritual role it has played in the burgh for nearly 600 years. 

‘Our groundbreaking partnership with the Church of the Holy Rude promises to establish a lasting legacy of exceptional visitor experiences, while contributing to the Church’s long-term sustainability and preserving its identity as an iconic place of worship for generations to come,’ said chairman of Stirling District Tourism, David Black.

‘The launch of our first exhibition, alongside a new website and online booking system, marks a significant milestone in this remarkable journey.

‘Through interactive displays and captivating narratives, the showcase unveils the untold stories of the church and the historic medieval quarter that surrounds it.

‘We hope it will act as a catalyst to attract visitors to the old town, where tales from the past await around every corner.’

The new exhibition masterfully weaves together the threads of history, narrating the church’s sacred role and its profound affiliations with royalty and the ancient Royal Burgh of Stirling.

Although the Holy Rude was built in the 15th century, the site’s religious significance stretches back to the time of King David I who erected Stirling’s earliest parish church here nearly 900 years ago when the Royal Burgh of Stirling was formed.

Church of Holy Rude Minister, Reverend Alan Miller said: ‘The Kirk Session is delighted that we have been able to enter into a new partnership with Stirling District Tourism as a means to securing the future of this beautiful, historic building.

‘It is our hope that it will raise the profile of the church, not only as an important visitor attraction, but also as a living place of worship to continue supporting the mission of the Kirk to Stirling and the wider world.’

Read more on Scottish Field’s News pages. 

Plus, don’t miss the October issue of Scottish Field magazine.