The story of “The Episcopal Chapel at Muchalls” was recorded by the Rector John Paul Hill and published in 1956. The estate had been purchased from the Earl of Errol in 1606 and Alexander Burnet of Leys began building Muchalls Castle shortly before his death in 1619. The 1st Baronet, Sir Thomas Burnet, completed the Castle. His cousin Robert Burnett succeeded him, but he was a Quaker , so although there was formerly a chapel at the castle, there was no strong Episcopal tradition for the lairds. But in 1714 the Burnett family sold the estate to Thomas Fullerton, who is more likely to have been sympathetic to the old order. In 1688, of course, William of Orange had supplanted King James and the Episcopal Church was supplanted in favour of Presbyterianism.
The east gable shown the new chapel at Muchalls was erected in 1831, and the subscribers list for the building confirms that it cost £293 11s. The Massons and Christies were foremost amongst those from Skateraw who had raised £23 5s 6d, and the same names appear along with the Sparks and Fowlers of Stranathra who raised £8 11s. But who was recorded as “A Lady” giving £1? Local weddings took place in Muchalls, but coffins were carried five miles to be buried at Cowie churchyard.
Men from Muchalls were thought to number amongst the Jacobite troops (possibly in the regiment raised by the local laird Sir Alexander Bannerman of Elsick) at the battle of Culloden in 1746. 160 men from the North East marched to Inverness, but only 17 are known to have survived. Others may have been sent to goal or sentenced to transportation.
Rev. John Troup was minister of the Muchalls Chapel from 1737 to 1776, and he was amongst those imprisoned in an attempt to stamp out Episcopal worship. Their jail was the Stonehaven Tolbooth, and like Alexander Greig of Stonehaven, Rev Troup managed to perform baptisms through the bars of his cell.
About 1758, the old Seatown of Muchalls was abandoned and fell to ruin, and the centre of population moved a little north to Stranathra. The “model village” has many fine old cottages.
Muchalls has its “ Gin Shore ”, a reminder of the days of widespread smuggling. There is, of course, an underground link from the shore about a mile inland to 17 th Century Muchalls Castle (now a private house) with its ghost “The Green Lady” and its secret staircase. Lord Robertson, the Lord Justice General, - then a tenant of the castle - sealed the cave entrance to the smugglers tunnel up at the end of the 19 th Century and no sign of it now remains. However, in 1896 the Aberdeen Free Press reported that long ago a piper had been sent to explore the tunnel, and the local worthies tracked his progress on the surface. But half way the sound of the pipes disappeared and the explorer was never seen again. Every now and then, usually late and night, the skirl of the pipes can still be heard by revellers making their way home from the Brown Jewel pub in the village.←Back