History of Maybole Old Church
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Maybole folk have been much commended over the centuries for there religiousness, the first church in Maybole being built in 1371.

Maybole old church is the oldest church in the town, which is still in use. When the church was built in 1808 it raised a few eyebrows and was described in local council minutes as "being more functional than beautiful." The church however has changed considerably over the years.

The church was built at a cost of around £4,000 but the church had its problems even from the beginning and it underwent major repairs in 1830, 1836, 1868 and 1879. the 1830 repairs for instance were necessary because the roof fell in and the floor collapsed, the repair bill came to £450. a considerable sum considering the church only cost 4,000 to build 22 years earlier.

The church is built in the typical post reformation style. Before the reformation churches were built in the shape of a cross. However after the reformation many churches were built to reflect the reformation clarion cry of "sola scriptura" "scripture alone" and so churches were built in this shape to signify the shape of the bible, an oblong shape. The church signifies the bible, the pews the lines on the page and the people the living words of god the very letters on the page.

When this church was built the pulpit stood where the organ now stands, the pews were 90° from there current position facing the pulpit (or where the organ is now.) There was a gallery to three sides of the church and the main entrance door was in the rear wall. The original vestry was behind where the organ now stands at the foot of the tower.

There was no heating in the church and so the congregation shivered through many long winter sermons. Then in 1841 the minister finally relented and allowed the congregation to indulge itself and so they fitted 2 stoves in the church to warm the worshippers. Finally in 1872 central heating was installed and the folk of the old Kirk considered themselves modern and up to date.

In 1890 the "kist of whistles" (the organ) arrived to much excitement and because the organ machinery took up what was in effect the vestry, the vestry was moved to its present position.

In 1900 the stain glass windows were fitted and the church was completely redecorated. These are very famous windows and people come from all over the world to view them often with binoculars and cameras.

In 1928 the minister who’s pulpit was in front of the organ, got so fed up with being deafened by the organ that he had the pulpit moved to its present position and the seats turned 90°.

The horseshoe gallery had been a constant source of concern from the time it was built. The gallery would sway when people moved around and it was often thought that it might come down. There were many sighs of relief when it was removed in 1928 and the present gallery built.

The church has had many great ministers and many great characters, too numerous to mention but one is worthy of a few words. A man called Johnny stuffy was the beedle for many years he was an odd character who wore a long second hand tailcoat that trailed on the floor and a large lumb hat. One of Johnny’s jobs was to sit on the pulpit steps during the hour long sermon and he would glower at the congregation and report to the minister the names of all those who fell asleep.

The church was built for the 19th century and so at the present time we have plans to once again refurbish the church for the 21st century despite what was reported at the council meeting of 1808, I think that this is a beautiful building with great potential.

Rev. Dave Whiteman B.D.   
November, 1999


This postcard of Maybole Old Church is from the Valentine series. Permission to reproduce it here has been given from St Andrews University Library where the Valentine Archive is held. Another large format image.

Church Building History: extract from the book - Maybole, Carrick's Capital by James T. Gray

Chapter 12, page 118.
"The oldest church still in use in the town is the Parish Church in Cassillis Road which was built in 1808 to replace the ruinous kirk in the old churchyard at Kirkport. There was no change evident in the attitude of the Minniebolers with regard to their religious buildings and they again erected a square box with a roof over it and a steeple which defies description. This steeple was originally fitted with a weather vane but it proved to be too heavy and was removed some time later. The original design does not seem to have included the horse shoe gallery, which was in existence up until the latest alterations to the church in 1928, as the access stairs to it would surely have been better designed if it had been intended to form part of the building in the first instance. This gallery was a constant source of worry, as it bad a bad sway when the people all moved out together at the end of the services, and many old worshippers breathed sighs of relief when it was finally taken down. Originally the vestry, or robing room, was at the base of the steeple and there was a door to the body of the kirk in the back wall. No allowance was made for heating the building and the congregation shivered throughout the winters until finally, in 1841, two stoves were fitted against the back wail and their position can still be traced where the outside corbelling was cut to allow the smoke pipes to be carried up above the eaves. About the same time as the stoves were fitted gas lighting was introduced and the Auld Kirkers considered themselves to be really an up-to-date and progressive body of people. 

In 1872 central heating was installed and the door in the back wall was built up to allow a heating chamber to be built. This necessitated a change in the layout of the church and the whole seating accommodation was altered. In 1883 the Parish Hall was built on the rising ground behind the Church and has been little altered since then with the exception that a porch has been added to the front door. The hall stands on the ground where the communion preachings used to be held and members of the congregation listened to sermons from various preachers whilst waiting their turn to "go to table" and take Communion within the church. The preachers sheltered in a form of sentry box while the congregation sat on the hillside and many took "bannocks and cheese" with them to sustain them through the long hours they often had to wait before it was their turn to take Communion. In 1890 the "kist o’ whistles" was installed by the congregation and the vestry, being required to house the organ mechanism, was moved to its present position. In 1900 the congregation again subscribed to the entire redecoration of the church and the two large stained glass windows were fitted in the front wall at this time. Later other stained glass windows were fitted in memory of John Marshall (of Jack & Sons); as a memorial to the fallen in the first World War, and in memory of the Rev. David Swan who was minister for so many years in the Auld Kirk. In 1928, three years after the Act of 1925 which relieved the heritors of their responsibilities, the whole church was entirely remodelled, the seating being altered, the pulpit moved to the east wall, the horse shoe gallery removed and a small gallery fitted to the west wall but nothing could be done to relieve the starkness of the exterior and it can only be said the building is more functional than beautiful."


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