CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
THE PARISH CHURCH
1766 - I960
y Sir James Fergusson of Kilkerran, Bart. (with the kind permission of his two sons)
DAILLY PARISH CHURCH
Foreward by the Rev Charles Y McGlashan, CBE.,D.D
Two Hundred Years
Dailly Parish Church from 1766 to 1966. That is what we are celebrating now, and it gives us an opportunity to look back over a fascinating period.
But it isn't just 1766-1966. Dailly Parish Church goes a lot further back than that. The little church of St. Michael of Dalmakeran was standing before 1200 A.D. About that time
Duncan, 1st Earl of Carrick (great-grandfather of King Robert Bruce), gave its revenues, with those of the churches of Straiton and Turnberry, to the Abbey of Paisley. When he founded Crossraguel Abbey in 1244, Dalmakeran was transferred to it, and remained under Crossraguel's jurisdiction till the Reformation. The name was still Dalmakeran in 1404, but by 1490 it had become "Daly."
It is not possible to say if the ruined church at Old Daiily Is what is left of the original church, but it almost certainly occupied that site and the present rum is very old. Dailly was a much larger parish then, and a very important one.
The old building became ruinous; moreover, the population was shifting. So in 1695 a new church was built near the corn mill at Milcavish, which name soon vanished in favour of New Dailly (by which name we are sometimes referred to in maps today). That church was poorly built and had to be replaced in 1766. That is the church we use today. It has seen many changes and has itself changed. But it has been for two centuries now the most distinctive feature of our village with its tower, surely a strange one for a Lowland Scottish village. The Manse, too, has been a distinctive feature of the village for a long time, standing just above the weir. The present house is the third on the site and dates from 1803 although the cellar may well be much older. Many of the fine trees which surrounded the Manse had to go a few years ago to make room for houses, but there is still much to admire.
It is the story of the church rebuilt in 1766 that Sir James Fergusson tells in this booklet. We are indebted to him for collecting together in this way much interesting information not otherwise easily accessible—and also for his patient labour in studying and cataloguing the fast-weathering stones in the churchyard; because of his work we now possess a very comprehensive record of these stones.
The story Sir James Fergusson has to tell shows how our predecessors cared for the church as the years passed. Those who worship in Dailly Church now have added another page to that history by their work over the past year. The area round the Communion Table and the Pulpit has been opened up in a most impressive way to give a sense of spaciousness not often found in village churches. A most successful change has been the provision of a generous area of carpet in dark green—a refreshing change from the
more common red or blue of most churches.
So Dailly Church stands today with its own quiet dignity and beauty, the work of many hands and much devotion. It will see changes in the third century of its life, but however great the changes, this building, set in its quiet churchyard in the centre of the village, will still speak to those lives in the parish of eternal things. Those of us who have inherited Dailly Church praise God for all who have loved and served it over the last two hundred years, and promise that we in our day will be no less faithful.
The Story of Our Church
By Sir JAMES FERGUSSON of Kilkerran, Bart.
The Church of 1766
The first church on the present site was built by William, 3rd Lord Bargany, in 1695, in fulfilment of an undertaking by his father. The site was on Bargany estate, and was chosen as being more conveniently central in the parish than the old mediaeval church of which the ruin stands at Old Dailly.
The 1695 church soon proved too small and, it appears, was not very soundly constructed. In 1763 the Heritors—the local landowners who
until the present century were responsible for the upkeep of all church buildings—and the Presbytery of Ayr appointed six local tradesmen to examine the church, and they unanimously reported that it was "altogether in a bad state and cannot be repaired".
The Heritors of those days were the lairds of Bargany, Kilkerran, Dalquharran, Killochan and Penkill. Unfortunately, the official record of their meetings at that time is lost, and our Kirk Session records say nothing of the rebuilding project. But it seems that the initiative came from the minister, Mr. Thomas Thomson, who had 'been inducted in 1756 after having been chaplain in the Kilkerran family. He is said to have helped with his own hands in the demolition of the old church, and he recorded later that the new one cost the Heritors ?600—the equivalent of perhaps ?10,000 in modern money.(in 1966) The church in 1766 had, as it has today, three lofts, but as built they almost touched each other at the corners. Here the Heritors had their own pews. Lord Bargany's coat-of-arms on the front of the Bargany loft still commemorates the builder of the 1695 church. Each loft was reached by an outside "fore-stair" and had a small private room with a fireplace behind the pews. The Kilkerran private room was taken out in 1878 to allow more seating in the loft, and the Bargany one adapted about 1893 for use as a vestry.
The new church was much more solidly built than the former one, but as the years went by it too proved unsatisfactory. The ceiling, low above the lofts, made it stuffy. In 1876 the Sesion recorded that it was "damp, cold and uncomfortable, especially in winter" and the Heritors considered building an entirely new church. In 1881 they decided to do so and engaged an architect, but they could not agree on a design. Moreover the minister, Mr. Turnbull, objected that the congregation would be without any church during the whole rebuilding, and Sir James Fergusson, then absent in India, threatened to interdict the other Heritors from pulling the old church down. The rebuilding project was therefore dropped.
Certain improvements were made – a new pulpit in 1893 and 12
standard lamps, fed by oil, in 1894, when there also was erected "a plain press in the Bargany room to hold the Minister's robes". In 1902 the Heritors considered employing an architect to improve the church, but contented themselves with various repairs. Finally, however, in 1913 they resolved on a complete scheme of restoration, and engaged an eminent Glasgow architect, Mr. Macgregor Chalmers, to prepare plans.
DAILLY CHURCH, AYRSHIRE
The Restored Church
Mr. Chalmers's plans were accepted by the Heritors in November 1913 and approved by the Presbytery of Ayr in February 1914. The estimated cost was ?2,000, but expenses rose after the outbreak of World War I. The total expenditure in the end was ?2,701/16/0; most of this was paid by the Heritors, the congregation subscribing ?727 and the Baird Trust ?200.
The restoration was very thorough. It perhaps went a little too far, impairing the 18th century character of the church. New windows in the English style, with small leaded panes, were substituted for the old Scots sash-windows (recently replaced); the original harling of the outer walls, which the Heritors' Records show was whitewashed from time to time with "Muirkirk lime," was stripped off (this has also recently been replaced) and the elliptical stone arch over the Bargany loft disappeared.
But four long-standing complaints—stuffiness, darkness, dampness,
and lack of seating room—were very practically dealt with. The
ceiling was taken out, and as the roof timbers were found to be badly worm-eaten the church received a complete new roof covered with Ballachulish slates. The remaining Heritors' private rooms were abolished and their lofts, which had formerly met at the corners, were set well back. There was thus much more air space. The south gable was rebuilt and the Bargany aisle was lengthened by 10 feet and lit by a new tall round-headed window facing east.
The two other gables were also rebuilt and the old "fore-stairs" eliminated. Gas lighting was installed. The church got a complete new floor, with asphalt underneath. The old pews, described as "too high, too narrow, and too straight in the back," were replaced by new ones of pitch-pine "of the most modern and comfortable pattern." A vestry was added adjoining the west gable. Finally, Mr. Chalmers designed a new pulpit and Communion Table, as well as an iron gate to be erected in front of the tower door. The pulpit was set beside a window to give it a better light.
The work was finished in the spring of 1915, when the inside walls (which a hundred years before had been pale blue) were painted "a light ivory". In 1920 they were repainted a light grey.
Other improvements and alterations have been made since. They include the insertion of stained glass windows, the installation of electricity in 1947, the restoration of the old external harling, white-washed as before, and the remodelling of the whole area round the pulpit which itself has been moved back to its central position of 1766. But substantially the church remains as it was reconstructed in 1914-15.
In 1927, soon after the care of the church had passed from the Heritors to the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland, an independent architect, Mr. Alexander Weir, wrote appreciatively of the "simplicity, fitness and beauty" of the building, adding: "The belfry tower in particular, which is the dominant feature of the whole composition, is a delightful piece of Renaissance work, which the Dailly people have reason to be proud of". The tower is also praised as "a charming composition, with rusticated quoins and urn finials" in Mr. George Hay's recent Book The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches.
Furniture and Ornaments
Prominent in the church today are the stained-glass windows. All of these are modern and most of them inserted since the 1914-15 restoration. Almost the oldest is that in the Bargany loft placed in 1907 in memory of the Countess of Stair (grandmother of Sir Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton). She lived for many years at Bargany, a kindly old lady much loved in the parish for her charitable works. The gradual addition of other coloured windows has rather unfortunately reduced the extra daylight admitted by the alterations of 1914-15, so that artificial light is almost always needed. The window which occupies the middle of the south gable was presented by the Woman's Guild in 1921 (the year after the Heritors added the porch to the Bargany door). In 1922 the Turnbull memorial window was inserted to the west of the pulpit, and the Heritors and Kirk Session agreed to the suggestion of Mr. Macgregor Chalmers (who had just died) that if the four north windows were filled with stained glass the designs should be uniform, each with a symbol above and a picture below, and represent, from left to right, the Nativity, Transfiguration, Crucifixion and Resurrection. The Crucifixion was accordingly the subject of the window added to the east of the pulpit in 1927 commemorating Mr. and Mrs. Robert Inglis.
Mr. Inglis had been for many years factor at Bargany and also clerk to the Heritors. He and his wife had presented the two brass flower-vases (1916) and the cross (1919) for the Communion Table in memory of their three sons kilhd in action during World War I.
The Church's most generous benefactors have been the Todds of Trochraig. They carried on unknowingly an old tradition, for Mr. Robert Boyd of Trochraig, who died in 1627, left "twenty pundis to help to by ane bell to the kirk of Daylis". Mr. and Mrs. George Todd's first gift was the silver baptismal basin in 1919. In 1920 they gave the organ, to replace the harmonium used till that time, and endowed it with a capital sum of ?2,000 for its upkeep and an organist's salary. The Kirk Session, in recording their gratitude, observed, "This noble gift will do much to improve the services of the church to the greater glory of God".
Mrs. Todd added a brass commemorative plate to the organ in 1929 and also presented a stained-glass window in memory of her husband. In 1947 their children Mr. David and Miss Helen Todd gave, in memory of their parents, the church's present electric lighting system to replace the gas lighting installed in 1914.
The small brass table lectern was, with an alms-dish, a gift from the Reverend and Mrs. George Walker in 1929, soon after Mr. Walker's induction to the charge of Dailly.
To the late Sir North Dalrymple-Hamilton of Bargany we owe the collection plates and their wooden stands (1915). What had happened to the former collection plates is uncertain. The Reverend Charles Goodall had introduced collection bags, an innovation so unpopular that one elder declined to hand them round. In March 1915 the Session resolved to discontinue their use, and the gift of the new plates and stands was made in April.
A very important piece of equipment is the church bell hung in the tower. Its diameter is just under 19 inches. It bears the inscription "Revd, Dr. C. Cunningham, 1815". Mr. Cunningham was our minister from 1806 until his death in 1815, and the bell was presumably given in memory of him.
Our Communion plate is, for so old a congregation, rather un-distinguished. We once possessed two silver cups and a flagon which may have been as fine examples of old Scottish craftsmanship as those of Straiten and Colmonell. They are mentioned in the Session's minutes of 1711 and 1755. But later, being "old and broken", they were sold.
Our present vessels are comparatively modern, and the large flagon and the six cups are only silver-plated. Four of the cups bear the inscription "DAILLY—1833", the other two are uninscribed. Our six
platters are of silver, made in 1937. There is also a portable miniature Communion set for taking the Sacrament to sick people. It was made in London in 1914 and presented by Mrs. Robertson Cameron, whose husband, an Army chaplain, had used it in France in World War I. The old Bible
Our oldest possessions, dating from the time when the church at Old Dailly was still in use, are a number of lead Communion tokens, crudely made and stamped "DALY", and the ancient pulpit Bible, now used only at the annual "preaching" at Old Dailly in memory of our Covenant martyrs.
This Bible, printed at Amsterdam in 1679, bears on its title page the initials "Th. Sk". These represent Mr. Thomas Skinner, the "indulged" minister of Dailly from 1665 to 1689. The pages are much worn, especially those of the Psalms. The leather binding has been twice repaired in modern times. This treasured Bible is specifically mentioned in the Session Minutes in 1711, 1755 and 1903.
After the removal of our place of worship from Old Dailly the kirkyard there was little used, and for the next 200 years, until the opening of the present cemetery, the parishioners of Dailly were buried around the "new" church. Many of them acquired their own family "lairs", and some of the older inscriptions seem more an assertion of property rights than a memorial to the dead: "This is the burial place of Andrew Crauford, 1754", or, with no date, "This is the burial place of James Blain and Marion Davidson his spouse and their children". Two inscriptions of 1722 and 1729 even specify "four graves breadth". A lair being heritable property, there was some reason for this precision.
There are nearly 200 memorial stones, but undoubtedly many people were buried in unmarked graves, and a few burials were marked only by rough, unshaped stones with no epitaph.
The oldest inscription is of 1704. There are two of 1716, and several of the years 1720-30. Some of the oldest are best cut. Many stones carry interesting carving, either of simple decoration, of "emblems of mortality", like a skull or an hour-glass, or of the tools once used by the deceased. One bears a much-weathered coat-of-arms, probably that of Alexander Kennedy of Drumellan, who was an elder and the father-in-law of Mr. William Patoun, our minister, and died before 1734. Not all of this carving is professional work. Some of it is crude, and in many inscriptions words are quaintly mis-spelt. But nearly all show care and devotion, and much of the old lettering is beautifully done.
The inscriptions have suffered badly from weathering, and especially from the severe frosts of 1963. But all those decipherable have now been copied, and a full indexed catalogue of them is kept in the vestry to assist enquirers. The names commemorated include many long known in the parish, like Alexander, Currie, Dick, Girvan, Kennedy, McBlain, McCrindle, Mcllwraith, McWhinnie, McWhirter, Reucastle, and Scobie; and some old Carrick and Galloway names now grown very rare, such as Drynan, McFedries and McKergow. Mr. Patrick Crauford, the first minister of Dailly after the Establish-ment of 1690, was buried at Old Dailly, but in our kirkyard are the graves of his next three successors, Mr. William Steel, Mr. William Patoun, and Mr. Thomas Thomson. The last was the father of Thomas Thomson, Deputy Clerk Register, Scotland's greatest archivist, and John Thomson, the first great Scottish landscape painter, who succeeded his father as minister of Dailly (1800-1805), but was called to Duddingston. These two eminent men, having spent most of their lives elsewhere, have no memorial in their native parish.
Two later ministers are also buried here, Mr. Charles Cunningham and Mr. David Strong. All the ministers' memorials are fairly well preserved except Mr. Patoun's tablet on the south gable which is rapidly crumbling away (though the inscription is recorded). Here also are buried two outstanding Dailly schoolmasters, Mr. James Scot (1765), who has the only Latin inscription, and Mr. James Welsh (1817) who gave the Thomson brothers their early education. There is, too, Alexander Blair (1862) "for many years doctor for the parish of Dailly". But a dead man's trade or calling is not often recorded, though one notices a smith, a wright, a miller, a few merchants, and of course several farmers, one (1737) being "John Wilson late in Maxwelstoun, an eminent Farmer of severe probity". There are many graves of former household or estate servants of the Bargany, Kilkerran and Dalquharran families, commemorated by their
employers for long and faithful service.
The most famous inscription in the kirkyard is of course that over the grave, near the south wall, of John Brown, collier, who was entombed for 23 days in the Kilgrammie pit in 1835 and "quietly expired" three days after his rescue. No other inscription is so informative about the deceased. Most are brief and factual. Occasionally there is a pathetic word or two of mourning, very seldom a text or a moral reflection. But one stone at the main gate, extremely worn, .says much in six words: "This is the burial place of John Stevenson, his Wife and children. Life—how short. Eternity—how long. 1757".
The Heritors had their family burial "aisles" at Old Dailly, but all traces of the Kilkerran one there has long vanished: it was disused in the 17th century when the family was non-resident-for three generations. Sir John Fergusson, 1st Bt., was buried in 1729 in the ruined castle of Kilkerran. His son, the judge, Lord Kilkerran, was buried in the kirkyard in 1759, when the Session recorded that his son Sir Adam gave "five pounds sterling to be distribute among the poor of the paroch". Over his grave, apparently in 1778, Sir Adam built the high stone "aisle" or vault which stands conspicuously in the middle of the kirkyard. There is record of repairs to its roof in 1804. In it were buried Sir Adam himself in 1813, his successors Sir James and Sir Charles and seven others of the family. There is nothing to be seen inside the building but a memorial stone and two bronze tablets.
The care of the kirkyard has concerned both the Heritors and latterly the Kirk Session for many years. About 1888 when the road on the north side of the church was altered, some gravestones there were removed and set round the church's outside walls. In 1895, 1902 and 1909, as also more recently, some oversized trees growing in the kirkyard were felled, and in 1899 and 1907 "saplings growing on any of the lairs" were ordered to be removed. In 1910 the present north walls and railings, the main gate and pillars, were erected in memory of Dr. Turnbull, our minister for 39 years, the parish contributing ?80 and the Heritors the balance of ?45. Some of the kirkyard ground was levelled and the Church Officer had orders that the grass "be cut twice a year at least". Sir Charles Fergusson "undertook to provide some shrubs for planting in the middle of the churchyard" in 1923.
It was typical of the Session's care for this ground in which so much parish history is recorded, that in 1925, when they could have handed it over to the County Council "it was decided to retain the custody of the village churchyard".
THE MANSE, DAILLY circa 1890
The church itself, its furnishings and surroundings, are no more than the setting for our congregational life. That life has continued for many centuries, unbroken but often changing and developing, especially in methods and manners of worship. Our Kirk Session records, which go back to 1692, tell us of many things which we regard as fixed :by long tradition but which once were new and sometimes aroused objections which took time to die down.
Arrangements for the Lord's Supper, for instance, were very different in 1766. In those days a long temporary Communion Table used to be set up—a fixed one may
still be seen in the church of Carsphairn—round which gathered as many of the
congregation as possible. The dispensation was repeated with one relay after another till all present had partaken, three or four other ministers assisting the parish minister.
This ancient practice was abandoned in 1873. On 7th April "the Session having taken into consideration the plan which has been followed in dispensing the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, namely by three tabjes succeeding each other, it was agreed that ... at the Communion) to take place on the 7th of May next and at all future Communions, the plan of Simultaneous Communion, which is being so generally introduced throughout the country, be adopted in its stead". Five years later, in 1878, it was decided that there should be "cards of admission to the Lord's Table" instead of the metal tokens which had been distributed until then. In former times the day appointed for the Sacrament was always preceded by a Fast Day, which included a special service of preparation and was observed like a Sunday, work on a Fast Day being as strictly discouraged as on a Sunday itself. This observance gradually declined until the Fast Day became nothing more than a public holiday. So in 1905 the Session unanimously decided to abolish the Fast Day service, since "the day has been changed by public use and wont, from the purpose for which it was originally instituted by the Church". A few parishioners sent a