Author: Agnes Wilson...

The Friends of Loudoun Kirk celebrate 25th Anniversary The thought that The Friends of Loudoun Kirk would still be around 25 years after its inception, was never really considered. After advertising for interested parties in the local paper, to find ways of repairing the roof of Loudoun Kirk, a group was formed with the idea of raising funds to preserve the remains of the original parish kirk of Loudoun.

At the outset, we had been told it had been built in 1451 but this was an error in translation from the original documents and the error was carried on through all the local historians and historical organisations. It was thanks to the meticulous research of Alistair Hendry that we now know the kirk was built in 1198, making this a historic building worth preserving

Originally a daughter church of Kilwinning Abbey, became a protestant church during the reformation and was the first parish kirk of Loudoun. Due to shifts in population, a new church was built in Newmilns replacing Loudoun Kirk and the kirk, although may have been used occasionally, started to deteriorate through lack of use.

The Marquis of Bute had purchased Loudoun Castle and had plans of rebuilding the kirk but we don’t know what went wrong with the original plan, he instead restored the queir or chancel and built a burial vault for the family of Loudoun Castle. The castle was later bought back by the Countess of Loudoun. A few tentative attempts at repairs had been carried out over the years until 1994 when The Friends of Loudoun Kirk (F.O.L.K.) was formed.

Funding was received from Historic Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Belgian S.A.S. Veteran Paratroopers, SCORE, private donations and various fund-raising events. It was a long, arduous journey but well worth it to preserve such an important piece of local history and those who have supported us can be proud to be part of achieving the goal.

We continued to improve the environs by repairing and rebuilding the bridge, repaired gate posts and installed new gates. The burn wall was eroding rapidly, and we built up a retaining wall and added some steps to the burial ground for easier access for visitors.

We had also joined the electronic revolution with having our own website and this brought in interest from family historians and so we have continued, promoting family and local history. We will open the kirk to anyone wishing to see it, regardless of numbers on request.

In the 25 years of our existence, we have sadly lost many of our members and committee and unfortunately like many other organisations, lack of support in a committee can have serious effects on the organisation. We are no exception so would be happy to welcome anyone interested in Loudoun Kirk and local history to help keep the organisation going for the next 25 years as least.

We are planning a history and craft fair on Saturday August 17th in Galston Community Centre, to celebrate our 25th anniversary . East Ayrshire Family History Society will be on hand to help with enquiries and if anyone would like to start researching their family history, then it’s well worth visiting their stand or get in touch with us, we’re always happy to help. There will also be craft stalls and are particularly interested in local crafts, but there will be more details later or keep up to date with The Friends of Loudoun Kirk, Facebook page.