Category Archives: History

Our church buildings and its history

We are fortunate to have a beautiful church building. This category ‘A’ listed building is special in many ways, including being the only Robert Adam church in the country.
A former minister of the parish, the Rev James A Guthrie, has written a book entitled ‘A Corner of Carrick’ that tells the story of the area. Copies are available at a cost of £4 plus postage and packing. Please contact the church if you wish to order a copy.
It is believed that this lovely old parish church was commissioned by Thomas, 9th Earl of Cassillis, head of the Kennedy family around 1777. Although work had started on the foundations at an earlier period, a plan for the new church was drawn up by the famous architect Robert Adam, while working on the Earl’s castle at Culzean, which lies within the bounds of the parish. Adam came across the church during construction and recommended changes, giving the building its Palladian-style details. And so this delightful little country Kirk, contains several outstanding Adam features – the most noted being the Culzean Gallery (or Laird’s Loft) on the north wall, facing the pulpit. Other items include the stonework round the middle door and of course the beautiful Adam window again on the north wall.
The belfry contains the only link with the old pre-reformation church which now stands in ruins down in the village – that of the bell. It was made by the renowned Dutch bellmaker, Quirinus de Visscher, in 1677, and has this rather strange inscription, “CLAUD HAMILTON HAD ME MADE IN 1677” in Latin around the rim.
The Culzean Swans which sit on the Adam-type urns on the roof above the centre door are the Heraldic birds of the Kennedy family, and can be found on the Earl’s coat of arms above the pulpit.
The Roll of Ministers which can be found on the left hand side of the north wall, inside the church, has a list of clergy going back to the Reformation. James Boyde was Archbishop of Glasgow in name only.
The stained glass windows on either side of the pulpit depict the parable of the ‘last Judgement’ and on the west side ‘Christ Blessing the Children’. These windows are Victorian and were brought from the former Kincraig Church in Maybole in the 1950’s.
The Burns Pillar. Local legend has it that the pillar to the left, coming into the church, under the Culzean Gallery, is where Robert Burns, Scotland’s National Poet, got the idea for his poem, “To a Louse”: on seeing one on a lady’s collar. This is the poem which contains the lines, “O wad some pow’r the giftie gie us, Tae see irsels as ithers see us”.
The Eisenhower Pew. This is where President Dwight D Eisenhower sat when he visited the Church in 1959, making Kirkoswald the only church in the UK where a serving president of the U.S.A. has attended regular Sunday morning worship.
At the end of 1994 a small fire was discovered in the gas fuelled central heating system, and the decision was made to install a new electrical system at a cost of £6,000. Once work started however a list of other matters and defects were discovered and it was decided o appoint an architect to carry out a full survey and report on essential repairs. When the report was submitted, it listed dangerous wiring throughout, dry and wet rot under the floor and behind wall panelling, water penetration in the roof due to nail fatigue, and severe spalling of the external stonework, all at an estimated cost of £200,000.
To a small congregation of approximately 400, this seemed to be almost an impossible task, but it was decided to proceed with a complete restoration.
Historic Scotland and various other Trusts came to our aid and along with almost £50,000 raised by our own congregation, work was started in January 1997 and completed by June of that year. Today we have a beautiful Adam Church fully restored to its former glory and decorated internally with the original Adam colours which were uncovered during the restoration.
Listed Status
Category ‘A
Listed 14 April 1971
HB Number 7583
OS Map sheet NS20NW

Kirkoswald ‘old’ Parish church and graveyard
Not to be confused with our ‘New’ Parish Church that was built in 1777, the village also has an older parish church which is notable for several reasons, including being the place where Robert the Bruce was baptised. The baptismal font used can be found in the old graveyard. Characters from Robert Burns writings, including Tam o’ Shanter, Souter Johnnie and Kirkton Jean, are also buried in Kirkoswald’s old graveyard. Burns spent several months in the village in 1776 when he was around seventeen years of age.

Information
The present church building address:
Kirkoswald Parish Church
Kirk Brae
Kirkoswald
Ayrshire
Scotland
KA19 8HZ
Tel. No. +44 (0) 1655 760210