is no building in our neighbourhood so well deserving of attention as
Crossraguel Abbey. It was built about six hundred years ago by Duncan, Earl of
Carrick, who lived at Turnberry, although it has passed through many changes
since then; and it is not at all unlikely that our great king Robert may have
worshipped within our Abbey's walls, and even received part of his education
from its inmates.
has been twice demolished. The first was by Henry Percy in 1307. It was he who
held Turnberry Castle for Edward I., and whose outlying force was put to the
sword by Bruce. Forced to decamp after this defeat, he took the poor revenge of
burning the modest edifice of old Earl Duncan before he left. Rebuilt on a
grander scale, the Abbey stood intact till the Reforming Leaders decreed its
destruction in 1561. But nen then it did not quite vanish. Abbot Quintin, backed
up by his nephew, the Earl of Cassillis, refused to budge from his house. He
lost no chance of showing his contempt for the new authorities, and tossed their
order to pay over to them the third of his benefice into the fire; He lived in
his half demolished Abbey, openly celebrating the Mass, as though the Reformers
were a mere parcel of rioters. His bold example encouraged the monks to return
to their former quarters, and as late as 1592, some of them were still living in
the Abbey, being probably the latest monks in residence in Lowland Scotland.
doubt the errors of the Roman Catholic creed had something to do with the
Reformation, but the main moving force was the ignorance, the indolence, the
greed, and, above all, the profligacy of the monks. They sowed the wind, and
they reaped the whirlwind. They were eating and drinking, marrying secretly, and
giving in marriage openly, until, at last, the flood came and took them all
away. As an old Scottish ballad writer observed:
not yourself began the weiris
Your steepilis had been standand yit;
It was the flattery of your friers
That ever gart Sanet Francis flit.
Ye grew sa superstitious
It gart us grow malicious
Contrair your Messe.
is no Abbey in Scotland which is so complete in all its parts as Crossraguel,
and none accordingly which could be set agoing again with less cost or trouble,
The church has been the most severely dealt with, but the Sacristy and the
Chapter House, the Cloisters and the Cellars, the Gatehouse Tower and the
Scriptorium are all nearly intact, and one almost expects, as he wanders among
the ruins, to see a monk coming round the corner with his bare feet and shaven
crown. The Gatehouse or Abbot's Tower was built shortly before the Reformation.
It consists of two apartments-a Porter's Room on the first floor, with a Guest
Chamber above, and a Watch Tower over all. At one of our Sabbath open-air
meetings in the Cloister Square the following verses were sung:
this deserted house of God,
As once in former days,
We meet to raise with one accord
The sacred song of praise;
The naked feet that trod these courts,
The hearts that lived to pray,
The hands that fed the homeless poor,
Have all now passed away.
still the God they loved and served
Lives and endures for aye,
The ear that heard our fathers' prayers
Will hear our prayers to-day.
May He who is Eternal Life
Give us that life alway,
And may He prove our hiding-place
When heart and flesh decay.
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