ST. CONAN'S KIRK -THE BRUCE CHAPEL

For many years I mistakenly believed that Carrick may have been involved in at least the modelling of the Bruce effigy at St. Conan's Kirk and the pages of this website reflected this belief.  However thanks to the research of Armin Nota it now seems to be beyond doubt that this was the work of another Scottish sculptor W. Hubert Paton.  

 

When Walter Douglas Campbell obtained a fragment of bone of King Robert the Bruce following the re-discovery of the King's grave in Dunfermline Abbey he incorporated the Bruce Memorial Chapel within the kirk with an effigy of the king to house the relic.   Armin discovered references to a figure modelled by W. Hubert Paton of 'King Robert the Bruce - for St. Conan's Church, Lochawe' in the 1896 RSA Exhibition Catalogue, number 346; and again in the 1919 catalogue, number 44.  Armin also tracked down a photograph of Paton's figure published in the 1909 Scotia: Journal of the St. Andrew's Society (vol.3, p.34) which can be seen above.  The figure in the photograph is identical to that of the St. Conan's effigy with the exception of the missing lion at the king's feet.

 

The identification of Paton as the sculptor explains the treatment of the marble face and hands which were almost certainly by an older Victorian sculptor and indeed as Armin points out the face is very similar to that of Paton's bronze Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders infantryman who stands on the Esplanade in front of Stirling Castle on top of the Regiment's Boer War Memorial.

 

Finally the design of the figure is identical to that of the figure carved into the face of the existing Bruce tomb in Dunfermline Abbey which was in turn based on the re-discovered fragments of the original 14th century French tomb which was imported from France to cover the King's grave and is similar to other royal tombs found in St. Denis.  Armin notes that Paton's father, Sir Noel Joseph Paton was involved in works at Dunfermline Abbey in the 19th century and made the initial sketches for the Bruce tomb indeed it was Sir Noel Joseph Paton who gifted the fragment of Bruce's bone to Walter Douglas Campbell and so it seems reasonable to assume that Campbell would have entrusted the execution of the Bruce effigy to his son Hubert Paton and that Hubert in turn incorporated his father's original designs for Lochawe.

 

A very special thanks to Armin Nota for his excellent work and for his sharing his research with this site.  Thanks Armin!

 

 

Below - the recumbant figure of Bruce.  The figure has already suffered damage from water ingress and requires protection.  Beneath - The photograph of Paton's Bruce effigy puplished in the Scotia, 1909.

 

 

robert the bruce effigy st conans bruce