It is 120 years since the Crichton Memorial Church was completed and on the 15th October 1897 a dedication service was held in the church. During October 2017, The Crichton Trust will be hosting two public services in the Crichton Memorial Church to celebrate.
The first event is a ‘Choral Evensong’ led by St John’s Church Choir in Dumfries and will take place in the Crichton Memorial Church on Saturday 14th October at 5pm. Refreshments will be served in the Church at the end of the service.
The second event will be a ‘Songs of Praise’ in the Crichton Memorial Church on Sunday 15th October at 2.30pm and will be led by musicians and singers from several churches in Dumfries. Refreshments will be served in Easterbrook Hall after the service.
There will be a retiring collection at the end of both services in support of Friends of Midpark. Friends of Midpark was established in 2012 for the opening of the new Midpark Hospital and aims to improve the quality of life of people with lived experiences of mental distress and to advance the welfare of patients in Midpark Hospital. They work to support activities that fall out with normal NHS funding and can involve initiatives to support the garden, group activities, family facilities and client holidays.
The history of The Crichton is fascinating. In 1823, Dr James Crichton of Friars Carse died and left £100,000 with his wife Elizabeth to use for charitable purposes. Elizabeth and her friend Rev Henry Duncan attempted to set up a College of University status in Dumfries to provide education of poor scholars. After 20 years of resistance, she set up lunatic asylum on the site. It wasn’t until the death of Elizabeth Crichton in 1862, a decision was taken in 1888 to build the Crichton Memorial Church. Architect Arthur George Sydney Mitchell was commissioned to design the Church and work commenced in 1890 and was completed in 1897.
Over 150 years, The Crichton grew into an internationally recognised centre of excellence in mental health research and care. In the 1980’s, it became surplus to requirements but the local authority was keen to ensure it remained in public ownership and purchased the site from the Health Board in 1995. It did so with the primary objective of ensuring that this important public asset was saved, protected and sensitively developed for the good of the wider community. It was also an opportunity to respond to local ambitions and fulfil the dream of Elizabeth Crichton to develop a much-needed University Campus offering local access to Higher Education.
In the modern day, the 85 acres of beautiful parkland consisting of 27 historic buildings including the iconic A-listed Crichton Memorial Church, is owned by the local authority and leased to The Crichton Trust who has responsibility for the development and management of the estate. It is now home to a University Campus, a Business Park with over 60 businesses, a 71-bedroom hotel and the magnificent Easterbrook Hall which has recently been developed to include Neuro’s Bar, Restaurant and Spa.
Alex Haswell, Chief Executive of The Crichton Trust said: “We are delighted to be hosting these services to celebrate the Crichton Memorial Church and to pay tribute to the work of Elizabeth Crichton. We expect she would have been very proud of The Crichton today. The church itself is used for everything from weekly church services, weddings and funerals to concerts, graduations and business functions – it certainly is a community asset and I hope the local community will join us to celebrate its 120th anniversary this month. Everyone is welcome to attend.
May I also extend my thanks on behalf of the Crichton Trust to the many churches and choirs who are supporting these events and in particular to the Reverend Dr Hamilton Inbadas, St John’s Scottish Episcopal Church, Dumfries, Reverend Dr Maurice Bond, St Michael’s and South Parish Church, Dumfries, Right Reverend Gordon Mursell, former Bishop of Stafford, David Matheson, Reader, Church of Scotland, Organist John Turner, former organist at Glasgow Cathedral, St John’s Church Choir and director Jamie Brand, and Dr Ian Macmillan, Chair of The Crichton Trust for their support and contribution to these services.”