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Chapel Green


Today all that remains of the ancient chapel  


and how the chapel may have looked when it was built in 1093. 


The Bakin. The Earlsferry beacon just off the point at Chapel Green



Regardless of where I happen to be, Earlsferry draws me like a salmon that's heading back up the river. Each time my ancestry kicks in and I'm compelled to return for an all too short visit to the place where I was born and grew up, I’m astounded by the calm, the serenity and the unspoiled beauty of this ancient village.


When I was a small boy there was nothing I liked to do better than to walk along the golden sand beach with my elderly friend Monty Moncrieff, conversing and learning from him as we walked.  Monty had traveled to most every corner of the world. One day he  made the comment, “During my lifetime I’ve seen many beautiful places but I’ve yet to see one that has what Earlsferry has.” How right he was. There’s just so much about Earlsferry and it’s surroundings that words can’t describe. It’s a unique place and I was indeed fortunate in that I was born there and got to spend the years there that I did. 


Earlsferry beach


 Most of my contemporaries, except a very few, are gone but Earlsferry never loses it’s charm and it’s magic.  People come and people go.  Over time the lifestyle of the residents has changed but the aura of the village remains essentially the same. Well almost. The local dialect has all but disappeared, as it has in all of the "Aist Nyuk" villages and today's people speak English and other languages. I also feel a sense of loss when a vacant house wherein a family used to live or an old home or a beautiful old mansion house  is either no longer there or has been split up and converted into commercial holiday flats.


Earlsferry refuses to let me go. For 28 idyllic years the village was my home.  For another 63 years I’ve been gone from Earlsferry but not for one day of these 63 years have I not awakened in the middle of the night to find that Earlsferry has transported me backwards in time,  I may not be in Earlsferry in person and I may be thousands of miles away but Earlsferry, my first love, has always possessed me. Some loves you get over and life goes on  but for me there's just no getting over or away from Earlsferry. After this length of time I know I never will. No matter how far away or for how many long years I've been gone from Earlsferry I've never managed to escape the feeling of  being far from home.  Each night as I go to sleep, like a magic carpet, Earlsferry and my old haunts are just on the other side of my Oregon bedroom wall. 


Earlsferry is a place where time really does stand still. One  has only to meander along the beautiful shell scattered golden sand beach and on to Chapel Green to see the remains of the ancient chapel where carved into the gable is the date 1093. That’s almost a thousand years ago. 


Scotland's King Malcolm III died in the year 1093.  Queen Margaret, his wife, built a chapel at Edinburgh Castle and the Abbey at Dunfermline. For pilgrims from the south to access her Dunfermline Abbey she established a free Queen's ferry across the Firth of Forth between what is now known as South and North Queensferry. With the same date being on the gable of the ruined chapel at Earlsferry I wonder if Queen Margaret was the originator of the Chapel at Earlsferry? 


When I was a boy, in addition to the chapel's one remaining gable, there were partial remains of the side walls that were visible. In the space of my lifetime despite dabs of cement now and then being applied to stave off erosion the remains keep crumbling and the structure becomes less and less. It's really sad that over the centuries the Chapel, instead of being kept in good repair and in daily use, has eroded and been allowed to deteriorate to the point that all that's now left is a bit of one crumbling gable and humps of wild grass that outline the Chapel's foundation which is about 20 by 40 feet. 



Photo by Sandy Moncrieff

Hallowed Ground

 This view is looking south, but sitting on this bench and looking to the east, the north and south ends of the May Island in the distance are framed between the Lady's Tower and the Lighthouse.


The gazillion pound location of the chapel in ruin commands the best and completely unobstructed view of Earlsferry and Elie, the harbour, the Lighthouse, the May island and the islands and southern shores of the Firth of Forth.  Imagine back in time to the days when the Chapel was built and how wayfarers over the centuries used it on a day to day basis.  


Other parts of the world may be in the doldrums  but today Earlsferry is "on the move" and the timing is right for a champion to emerge to get a group together to give the Chapel a new lease on life by getting a new one designed and built. Such a chapel would provide starry-eyed couples from near and afar with a most meaningful place for their weddings.  


A Wayfarers Chapel made from the rugged dark navy-blue whin-stone of the area with leaded and stained glass windows, carved heavy oak and iron studded door, internal furnishings to match, slate roof etc. would be a great community project, one that would be in keeping with ancient Chapel Green and----- 


 -----one that just might last for another thousand years.


What a setting for a chapel wedding.   


What a setting for a wedding chapel.



Hooked rug by Barbara

The Chapel by the Sea at Chapel Green, from Earlsferry beach


 A most serene, symbolic and very special place.


Our neighbour played the bagpipes. On calm summer evenings as the sun was low in the west he would strap on his kilt and go to the Chapel where he would play until the sun set. One of his favourite tunes was the Eriskay Love Lilt which was a delight to the ear as his lonely sounds of nostalgia faintly drifted across the bay.



This is a health advisory for developers. 

Stay away from Earlsferry.  


If your eyes should ever alight on to Earlsferry and Elie, the Chapel Green area, West Bay or the land between the Lighthouse and The Lady's Tower your wheels are sure to over rev and it's very possible you'll develop  mind blowing trauma and incurable insomnia.