Dalmaik Church was used
regularly for worship in
Drumoak Parish until 1836.
HISTORY OF DRUMOAK-DURRIS CHURCH
Drumoak can trace its church history back to when the focal point of the parish was Dalmaik Church, located approximately 1.5 miles southeast of the current church and situated right next to the northern bank of the River Dee. There is a plaque which commemorates the foundation of Dalmaik in 1062 AD although this date has been heavily disputed by local historians. What is certain is that the existing structure had been used as a place of worship from the 16th century right up until November 1836. Dalmaik was closed for good and the new present building, designed by the architect Archibald Simpson, was opened.
In 1880, the Free Church in Drumoak was established on the western side of the parish although by 1934, the two churches had formally united again under the Established Church of Scotland. The two buildings were still used for services - the East Church for the morning and the West Church for the evening - until 1956. Afterwards, the former Free Church building was used as a community hall right up until 2005. To date, it is now being converted into a private residence.
Drumoak has grown dramatically over the past twenty years with many new houses built on what was previously agricultural land. With its location just 13 miles from the city centre of Aberdeen, Drumoak serves as a commuter village especially for residents working in the oil and energy sector with many young families choosing to make their home there. As well as a church, there is the church hall which was built in 1989 and can be hired for local events. Drumoak also has a primary school whose new building opened back in 2016, as well as a post office, bowling club, garden centre and Glebe Park located on the northern banks of the Dee.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Drumoak, copies of "The Parish of Drumoak" by Robin Jackson can be obtained from the author at 4 Deeview Gardens, Drumoak, AB31 5AF. The book was commissioned by Drumoak Kirk Session to celebrate the millennium and a copy costs £8.50 (of which £2.50 goes to Church funds). Furthermore, for an insight into life in 19th century Drumoak, you can view for free online the parish entry from "The New Statistical Account Of Scotland: Aberdeen" which was written by the Rev. Adam Corbet who was the Minister of Drumoak Church from 1826 until 1876.
Durris can also trace its church history back centuries where it was mentioned in a 13th century roll by the papal tax-collector in Scotland. Inside the present church there is a wooden plaque that lists the names of the known Ministers who served this traditional parish all the way back to 1420 in the pre-Reformation era.
The current church was built in 1822 on the same site as a previous medieval church and is located very near the south bank of the River Dee and is a short walk from Durris Kirkton Hall. To the east of the building, there is the Fraser Burial Aisle which dates from the late 16th century and is the only remnant of the previous church.
Durris has maintained its links with agriculture and continues as a farming community with many tenant farmers. There is a community hall in Kirkton of Durris which is actively supported by many of the local residents. Children from Durris are able to attend Crossroads Nursery before moving to Durris Primary School situated in the Woodlands of Durris where new houses have also been built and settled by families, many of whom commute to Aberdeen for work.
If you would like to find out more about the history of Durris, there are accounts from 1791 written by Rev. William Strachan. Our Church Elder Mr. William Blackhall also recently wrote an article about growing up in Durris since 1940 for our newsletter available here.
Furthermore, the "Annals of Lower Deeside", written by John A. Henderson and published in 1892 contains a history of Drumoak and Durris. You can download a copy of this book here.
In 1981 the Minister of Durris Church, Rev. William Southwell, retired and Presbytery instructed a linkage with Drumoak, which could not be effected until 1987, when the Minister of Drumoak Church, Rev. William Serle, retired. Both parish Churches had witnessed a significant fall in attendances, with a dwindling membership of the congregations and the Kirk Sessions. At the time of the induction of Rev. Jim Scott in 1992, the two congregations shared a minister, but each Church retained its own Kirk Session and Congregational Board, and conducted its own worship programme.
As the 20th century drew to a close, a union of the two Churches was being considered to reflect the ethos of a joint congregation, and on 1st January 2002, Drumoak-Durris Church officially became one congregation with just one Kirk Session and one Congregational Board. The Sunday Services were alternated between the two churches at 10am, and this continues to be the pattern of worship at Drumoak-Durris Church today.
Following Rev. Scott’s retirement in the autumn of 2010, a new Manse was acquired on the instruction of Presbytery, and a new Minister was sought. In early 2012, Rev. Dolly Purnell was inducted to Drumoak-Durris Church to be greeted by the discovery of urgent repair work required to the roof of Drumoak Church. Once completed, the congregation of Drumoak-Durris considered and agreed to seek approval to move towards a Unitary Constitution. Permission was granted in April 2013, and in June the Convenors and teams of the three administrative groups - Fabric & Finance, Education & Outreach and Pastoral Care - were appointed.
It has been a long and eventful journey for the parishes of Drumoak and Durris. Since we began a new chapter as a united parish we have continued to reach out and harness the spirit of togetherness and community. Not only have we been involved in the local community but the work of the Church has seen us get involved abroad in Malawi (2005), the Holy Land (2008) and Romania (2009).
There are certainly many challenges that face Drumoak-Durris Church as we plan our course for the future, but we aim to keep the Church very much active within the community we serve. We have ambitious and exciting plans to transform our church building in Drumoak to provide modern community use facilities available to everyone. You can find out more about this project on the renovation page.
Our Church has never just been about buildings, but more importantly, it has been about the people who have helped to support the work it has carried out within the parish and beyond over the centuries. With God's guidance, we pray that we can continue on this journey together and reach out to bring God's love, peace and joy to all.