Mauchline Parish Church & Gargoyle.
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Mauchline Parish Church : Where is Mauchline? : More pictures of Mauchline.

Warmth and calmness is the feeling I got standing in the grounds of Mauchline Parish Kirk. The salmon coloured glow from the Ballochmile sandstone emanates comfort and tranquility. The majority of Kirks in Ayrshire are constructed of Ashlar, which unless you see it newly cleaned, looks rather dull on a typical Scottish overcast day. Mauchline Parish Kirk is a beautiful building and obviously well looked after considering it was built in 1829. The local folks told me that there was another Church here at one time, this one is not the original. I was unable to find out when it was built, but do know it was demolished in 1827 after the belfry collapsed.

The previous Kirk was a much simpler place of worship. The fact that the upper portion and belfry was not constructed of stone tells of a time of limited finances in the village. Mauchline hosted a great number of Cattle Fairs and the Kirk sits in an area called the Cowgate - not difficult to figure that one out eh? Somewhere in the immediate area, although I couldn't find it, is a tree known locally as the Kirk End Tree. How it got this name goes back to the decaying wooden belfry of the original Church. Apparently the congregation was so worried that the belfry supports would collapse and result in the bell crashing to the ground and breaking. Everyone banded together and the bell was removed and hung on a tree. Every Sunday the bell was rung by attaching a piece of rope from the hammer. I hope the rope was a lengthy one as it must have been deafening for the poor soul standing beside it.

Mauchline Parish Church.

A great many Kirks I visited in Ayrshire were designed by people from prosperous Towns and Cities far away. Mauchline Parish Kirk was designed by local architect William Alexander. Mr Alexander became a regular worshipper at the Kirk and it's refreshing to hear of such local connection. Without a doubt the Kirk is inexorably linked with Ayrshire's own poet Robert Burns and many of his friends. The whole graveyard is dotted with plaques indicating a wealth of who's who among the bards contemporaries. I did not photograph each site but did take a few images to give the general feeling of things in the Kirk yard. Photos are below.

The Cowgate itself is where James Armour, Robert Burns father-in-law owned several cottages. None exist today through general decay and a huge fire in 1909 which ended the life of many of the thatched single storey dwellings. Robert Burns reputedly chatted with his wife to be through a gable window of one of the cottages in the shadow of the Kirk. Locals tell me that when the cottage was demolished the window that Jean Armour used to lean out of to talk to Rabbie, was preserved.

The window was given at the time to William McMillan who was the village banker. As luck would have it Mr McMillan saw the importance of such a piece that he donated it to the Burns Museum. A great story and all happening within a stones throw of the Parish Kirk. I would like to mention incidentally, about the gargoyle image at the top of the page. Mauchline Parish Church has a total of four gargoyles, one pair each over the two main doors. They were sculpted by a gentleman named Mr Thom. Click on the face top image to enlarge.

Mr Thom was not a stranger to Robert Burns and his illustrious friends. For those who are familiar with the Burns Museum in Alloway Ayrshire, Mr Thom was also responsible for the statues of Souter Johnie and Tam O'Shanter.

Left Photo: Mauchline Parish Church. May 2005. Click to enlarge.

Ballochmyle Graves at the Mauchline Parish Church. Click for larger image. Click to view larger image. Click to view larger image. Click to view larger image. Click to view larger image. Click to view larger image.

The Ballochmyle Graves. Click on the above photos to see larger high resolution images.

Graveyard map of Mauchline Parish Church.

Photo: Diagram on the south wall of the Mauchline Parish Church showing the burial locations of Robert Burns contemporaries.
The legend is an overlay due to the difficulty in reading the original print. Click to view larger image.

There are a total of 24 references to Robert Burns' contemporaries in the Mauchline Parish Church grounds. I simply did not have the time to photograph every headstone, but I have included links to the grave of Jas Whitefoord and the five Ballochmyle graves. For Burns fans this is a place you cannot afford to pass by. The atmosphere in the Kirk yard is simply electrifying, so many folks are here that were a part of Robert Burns' life. This small unassuming looking graveyard holds a huge piece of Ayrshire history. I left with a smile and a desire to share in words and pictures the beauty and tranquility of the Mauchline Parish Church. It's a beautiful place.

Where is Mauchline? : More pictures of Mauchline.

Martin J. Galloway Editor.
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Click to view larger image. Click to view larger image. Click for more information about Robert Burns.