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Yester Parish Church stands like a white beacon at the north east end of the pretty Main Street in the village of Gifford. Its long axis is aligned north west to south east and an aisle to the north east turns the plan into a "T" shape. Meanwhile, a striking square tower topped off with a modest spire projects from the south west wall of the church.
The church's earliest predecessor was dedicated in 1241 as Bothans Parish Church or St Cuthbert's Church and stood a little under a mile to the south east of Gifford. It later went on to serve Yester Castle, which was built a mile further to the south east, and the village of Yester which grew up around it. As a result the church, which was rebuilt in 1492, became known as Yester Parish Church. In 1708 the local lairds, the Gifford family, began the systematic removal of the village of Yester to a new location to the north west, a settlement to which they gave the family name. The village of Gifford was born.
The focus of the new village was the new Yester Parish Church, which was completed in 1710, incorporating the bell from the earlier 1492 church. The nave of the old church was demolished and the choir and transepts found a new use as a mausoleum.
Yester Parish Church has ably served the parish of Yester ever since, with the exception of the period from October 2008 to December 2009, when services were held in the village hall. By the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, and with the church's 300th anniversary in prospect, the decision was made to undertake a major renovation of a building which was beginning to show its age.
Following a £700,000 project the church was handed back to its congregation on 11 December 2009, and on Sunday 10 January 2010, just in time for its 300th anniversary, Yester Parish Church was rededicated in a service led by the Rt Rev William C. Hewitt, Moderator of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly.
The refurbished church is nothing short of magnificent. The renovation cured all the ills of three centuries of wear, tear and Scottish weather, and it also greatly improved community facilities and accessibility and brought the church up to modern standards in terms of energy efficiency. The quality of the woodwork in the church is especially striking, and the contrast between the mid tones of most of it and the much darker hue of the pulpit and surrounds leads to the thought that, like the bell, the pulpit might have previously resided in the 1492 church.
The surrounding graveyard is home to a number of interesting gravestones from the 1700s, though the best, which have been placed against the exterior walls of the church, tend to be heavily weathered.