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Girvan Old / North Parish Church

The old medieval Kirk of Girvan was dedicated to St. Cuthbert in the 13th century. This tiny single cell building, which once stood in the Old Street cemetery, served the faithful for 500 Years until a new 'T-plan kirk was built in the centre of Church Square in 1770.

Our present North Parish Church had the memorial stone laid by the Countess of Stair on Saturday 6th October 1883, and opened for worship in 1884 as The Girvan Old Parish Church of St Cuthbert. We became North Parish in 1973 with the union of Old and St AndrewsNorth Parish Church was opened for worship, in 1884 as The Girvan Old Parish Church ofSt Cuthbert. We became North Parish in 1973 with the union of Old and St Andrews.

In style and plan the Church is typical of the Gothic revival which by the 1880s had outstripped its Classical rival. Its most attractive Gothic exterior has a graceful spire which rises 150 feet in height and must surely be the very finest in the whole of Ayrshire.

On the inside we find a pleasantly familiar Scottish Presbyterian arrangement, interior of Girvan Norththankfully retained in spite of the trendy movement of the early years of the last century when the pulpits of so many churches were moved to a side position.
With a gallery around three walls and a centrally positioned pulpit, it could very well be described as a galleried hall church in Gothic dress.

A two manual Brinnley and Foster pipe organ was gifted to the. Church in 1884 by Mr Thomas McKechnie at a cost of £750. Unfortunately, essential repairs were considered too costly in 1973 and it was replaced by an Allen electronic instrument.

One of the principal features of the Church is its painted Girvan North painted ceilingceiling which is symbolic of the Creation. Shells and seaweed represent the sea bed and undulating lines the surface of the sea. The Earth is represented by the flowers of the field and the ceiling is decorated with heavenly stars.

In 1926 an attempt was made to have the ceiling painted but fortunately this proposed act of vandalism was defeated and the ceiling was preserved in its original state.

Although the Church was built at a time when Scottish stained glass and the Glasgow Studios in particular enjoyed a worldwide reputation for excellence, all windows were originally glazed with plain glass.
But not for long. In 1889 the famous Edinburgh firm of James Ballantine and Sons were commissioned to design and execute two stained glass windows for the South Transept, and a year later, two more for the North Transept.
windowsThe windows in the South Transept were presented by Mr Robert Cunningham of Glendouglas, Jedburgh, in memory of his relatives, the brothers Robert and Thomas McKechnie. Those in the North Transept were erected by the congregation in memory of 'Reverend William Corson, Minister of this Parish from May 1848 to December 1887.
In the left window of the south Transept, Mary Magdalene sinks to her knees as she realises that she is speaking to Jesus and not to the gardener. Her hands stretch out, together in an act of reverence. Jesus, with hand raised, tells her; 'Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto, my Father, and your Father; and to my God and you’re God. (St John 20:17)
The window on the right depicts Jesus seated at table breaking bread. His two companions gasp in surprised recognition as they realise that they have walked to Emmaus and had supper with Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. 'And it came to pass, as he sat at met with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.' (St. Luke 24:30-31)
In the North Transept, the window on the left depicts John the Baptist, who is easily identified by his raiment of camel's hair' and long reed cross. Jesus is standing at the back of a small gathering which John the Baptist addresses with the words: 'Among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie., (St John 1:27)
The second window portrays Jesus seated by the Sea of Tiberias. A small boat can be seen in the distance Peter stands before Jesus, his hands clasped as if imploring Jesus to believe him: 'Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus gestures towards the sheep as he charges Peter to, Feed my sheep., (St John 21:17)Memorial Chapel

In 1987 a decision was taken to convert the North Transept into a Side Chapel. Contributions, many in memory of loved ones, were received from members and friends, and over 150 names are recorded in a Book of Remembrance which is kept, available for all to see, in the Chapel.
The Side Chapel, now more aptly referred to as The Memorial Chapel, was dedicated to the Glory of God on Sunday 27th December 1987 by The Reverend Charles Johnston M A, Clerk to the Presbytery of Ayr.

Looking back over one hundred years, it is quite staggering to be reminded of just how much costs have risen. The Church was built in 1884 for just £4,500 and the Hall for £650, a total of only £5,150. By comparison, repairs to the large west window, which were undertaken in 1991, when three mullions needed to be replaced, cost over £20,000.