Find out more about the church building and history below.

 (Note: clicking on any photograph will open the full-sized version)

 

At the turn of the twentieth century there were five churches in Darvel: 


Central Church in Hastings Square (now Darvel Parish Church)

Easton Memorial Church in West Main Street (originally the Free Church but renamed in 1894, linked with Irvine Bank Church in 1956 and fully united in 1960 becoming Irvine Bank and Easton Memorial, closed at the 1992 union with Central Church to form Darvel Parish Church.  Now converted to a private dwelling)

Irvinebank Church in Ranoldcoup Road (linked with Easton Memorial in 1956 and fully united in 1960 forcing the closure of this building.  It is now the Scout Hall)

Evangelical Union Church
in West Main Street (congregation dissolved and building closed 1965, later the Girl Guide Hall, now privately owned and semi-derelict)

Original Secession Church in West Donington Street (congregation dissolved and building closed 1941, later Darvel Central Church Hall [1951-1983], now Our Lady of the Valley Roman Catholic Church) 


After a series of unions and closures throughout the twentieth century had distilled the five protestant churches of Darvel down to only two, the final union came in 1992 when Irvine Bank & Easton Memorial Church and Central Church united to become Darvel Parish Church as we know it now, using the Central Church's building.

The site of the church is in the centre of the south side of Hastings Square, the site, with the old buildings thereon, being the free gift of Lord Donington to the congregation.  The Church is built in the early English style of  architecture with a tower in front, having chamber and belfry, and terminating in a stone spire 130 feet high.  The clock in the steeple was erected by public and private subscription, the firm of Alexander Morton & Co. having generously subscribed the sum of £50 for the above purpose.

The interior arrangements consist of nave with clear storey, transepts, aisles and a back gallery.  The woodwork is of pitch pine, and the pulpit which is at the south end of the Church is of wainscot oak and tastefully carved.  Above the pulpit is a handsome triple-lancet window, filled with stained glass, with running vine ornamentation and a scroll down the centre window containing the words, "I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD."

The contractors for the building were Messrs. Boyd & Forrest, Builders, Stewarton and Kilmarnock, and the contractor for the Joinery and Scaffolding was John Rankin, Darvel.  The plumber was Robert Stevenson, Kilmarnock.

The memorial stone, which was laid by Mr. J. G. A. Baird MP on 17th September 1887, is placed on the left side of the main entrance door on the third stone above the second intake on the buttress on the left side facing the doorway.

The church building was opened as Darvel Central Church on 11th November 1888 and provides seating accommodation for a congregation of approximately five hundred.


  * * * *

 

THE ORGAN

While the question of installing an organ in the church was raised as long ago as 1893, no active steps were taken until 1907 when this matter was again discussed and it was decided to introduce an organ into the services of the sanctuary.  The pipe organ, built by Forster and Andrews of London (by that time owned and run by the company of Philip H. Selfe of Hull - both names are on the manufacturer's plate on the console) was opened on the 18th October 1908 by Mr. Charles Boyd (organist 1908-1940.)

 

The instrument has now served the congregations of Darvel Central and Darvel Parish Church for over a century with utmost reliability.  With the exception of the addition of an electric wind blower (the bellows having been previously hand-pumped,) the organ remains entirely unchanged and un-tampered-with since its original installation; even the hand bellows are still in situ and perfectly functional in the event of power failure.

The organ consists of 2 manuals of 58 notes each and a pedalboard of  30 notes.  It has 16 speaking stops, 14 ranks and 784 individual pipes ranging from the largest at 8' length (sounding at 16' pitch) to the smallest at approximately 1½".

It has a tracker action (this is entirely mechanical as opposed to more modern actions which may be electric or pneumatic.  To the layman this is like the comparison of an old manual typewriter to a modern electric one.)  The result is that the keys are much heavier, but infinitely more responsive to the player's touch and, in the long-term, more robust and reliable.

The front casework of the organ is in the same, exquisitely carved oak as the pulpit and comprises two side diagonals of functioning open diapason pipes, with the original hand-stenciling in green, gold and brown still intact, and a front row of similarly hand-painted and stenciled open diapason pipes which are only a non-functional façade.  The console of the organ is in the middle of the chancel, built into the front of the pulpit.

As at December 2011, the organ has been nominated for certification by the British Institute of Organ Studies as being an instrument of historical interest, due to its being an perfect example of Forster and Andrews' work of this period, and a shining example of this sort of instrument: a small organ for a relatively small village church.  This is enhanced by its largely unchanged state.  A positive outcome is hoped for.  The firm of organ builders Messrs. James MacKenzie & Co. of Glasgow have indicated that they believe this to be the finest example of a small pipe organ in the county.

Please click here for full organ specification (PDF)


The music in Darvel Parish Church is also enhanced by the presence of a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano, which was bought by funds raised and donations given by members and friends of Darvel Parish Church in 2011.

List of Organists

1908-1940    Charles Boyd
1940-1945    Robert Stewart
1946-1947    John Knox
1947-1958    Adam Girvan DipMusEdRSAM
1958-1983    Archibald Morton LTCL
1983-1984    Jean Martin
1984-1994    Adam Girvan DipMusEdRSAM
1994-1999    Gordon Cree BEd FGMS
1999 -           Rota of Freelance Organists, including:       
                      Gordon Cree BEd FGMS
                      Joseph Auld DipMusEdRSAM
                      John Cowan
                      W. Hillis McQueen
                      Alexander Hopkins
                       R. Reid Houston

       

* * * * 

 


THE BAPTISMAL FONT


The Church's baptismal font was dedicated in Irvine Bank Church on 8th July 1945, a gift from the Woman's Guild.  When the church united with Easton Memorial in 1960 it was transferred, and likewise to Darvel Parish Church at the last union in 1992.

It bears the inscriptions:

Front: 
"SUFFER LITTLE
CHILDREN TO
COME UNTO ME"

Rear: 
"PRESENTED BY
IRVINE BANK WOMAN'S
GUILD AND DEDICATED
ON 8th JULY 1945"


* * * *

 


THE COMMUNION TABLE

As a memorial to the Quoad Sacra parish of Darvel's first minister, Rev. John W. Jack, a light oak communion table was dedicated on the 23rd July 1939 by the Rev. James A. Hogg, senior minister of Galston Old Parish Church and a college friend of Mr. Jack.  It formerly bore a single brass plaque which filled the centre panel as a memorial to the late minister, but following the death of Rev. Ian M. W. Collins in 1998, this brass plaque was moved to the right-hand panel and a twin of it commissioned to be made as a memorial to the late Mr. Collins and this was installed on the left-hand panel of the façade, thus preserving the symmetry of the table (see section Memorial Plaques below.)


* * * *

 


COMMUNION CHAIRS

The three oak chairs - the largest for the minister and the two smaller for the session clerk and senior elder to sit on for the celebration of communion - originated in the former Easton Memorial Church, remaining there after the union with Irvine Bank Church and were subsequently brought to the new Darvel Parish Church when it came into being with the union of 1992. 

They were donated to the former Easton Memorial Church by Agnes Morton in 1944 and the large chair bears the inscription:

"TO THE GLORY OF GOD
IN THANKSGIVING FOR HIS GOODNESS
THIS CHAIR WAS PLACED IN
EASTON MEMORIAL CHURCH BY
AGNES MORTON
EASTER 1944"

 

* * * *


 

THE LECTERN

The lectern which stands at the west corner of the chancel was presented to the former Central Church in 1991 in memory of two members of the same family, Hugh and Meg Craig.

There is a small brass plaque on the front panel of it which bears the inscription:

 

 "DEDICATED TO THE GLORY OF GOD
AND IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF HUGH

AND MEG CRAIG, GENEROUS

BENEFACTORS OF

THE CENTRAL CHURCH.

27TH. OCTOBER, 1991."

 

* * * * 




FLOWER STANDS

In 1989 two flower stands for the church were commissioned to be made by local blacksmith, Charles Cree (father of the subsequent organist, Gordon Cree) in memory of two late, faithful members of the then Central Church, Duncan Ross and his wife, Grace G. Ross.  They are of black wrought iron, edged in gold and bear the respective initials D.R. and G.G.R.  They stand permanently against the frontmost pillars in the nave and are adorned with the church's floral arrangements Sunday by Sunday. 


* * * *

THE MORTON MEMORIAL WINDOW

 

When the mansion of 'Gowanbank' became vacant in the late 1950s, intimation was received by the Kirk Session through the good offices of two of the grandsons, Alastair and Jocelyn Morton, Carlisle (sons of the late Sir James Morton) that the grandchildren of the late Alexander Morton wished to present the window from 'Gowanbank' to the Central Church and would bear any expense incurred in installing it in its new setting.

 


 

 

The Kirk Session appreciated this generous gesture and most readily agreed to reserve a place for the window on the east side of the Church were it was likely to receive the maximum sunlight and in which position its beautiful colours and exquisite design would be seen to advantage.

The window which was originally installed in 'Gowanbank' where Alexander Morton spent the latter part of his lifetime was gifted to him and his wife, Jeanie Wiseman, by the members of their family on the occasion of the celebration of their Diamond Wedding on 7th August 1923.  It was designed by the eminent stained glass artist Douglas Strachan who also designed the windows in the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.

The skilled task of removing and fitting the window into its new setting was carried out by Messrs. James Thow Ltd., Glaziers, Ayr.  Under their supervision a beautiful design of the Church of Scotland emblem and motto was added in circular form to the apex of the window and this addition of the burning bush with the Latin inscription 'Nec Tamen Consumebatur' has enhanced the suitability of the window as an adornment of the sanctuary.

 

A brass plaque designed by the well-known Edinburgh silversmith and designer, Alan Place of the Royal College of Art, Edinburgh has been placed beside the window and bears the following inscription:

 

 

 
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
This window from Gowanbank has been given to the church by the grandchildren of Alexander Morton and Jeanie Wiseman in memory of them and of their children Helen, Gavin, James, Agnes, Jeanie, Alexander, Maggie, Mary and William.
                                        December 14th 1958


At a well-attended service held in the Central Church on Sunday morning 14th December 1958, the window was presented to the church by one of the grandchildren, Alexander Morton, 'Glenrosa,' Newmilns, and then dedicated with prayer by the minister, the Rev. Ian M. W. Collins.

Recording as it does an important period in the industrial history of the Irvine Valley, the window has become of increasing interest with the passing of the years.  Since the window was installed, over fifty years ago, a number of visitors, some of them from abroad have asked to see the window and to photograph it.

Set in the wall in the south-east corner of the church, the window is divided into three sections, each containing stained glass panels exquisite in their design and colouring, and which in their symbolism present an outline of the story of, and the focal points in, the life and industry of Alexander Morton.

On the left section as one faces it the window has two panels, the top one depicting his starting life as a herd boy with his sheep at 9 years of age, and the lower one showing him working at handloom weaving as a boy of 12.  The central section has three panels; the top one depicts the young Alexander Morton and his bride kneeling to take their vows in matrimony, the centre one is devoted to a simple family life scene introduction his growing interest in pansies, the bottom one illustrates his expertise in the breeding of hackney ponies.

The third section, on the right, has two panels; the top one portrays his setting off with his pack on his shoulder to sell his textile wares in London, and the lower one depicts the introduction of the power lace loom in the Irvine Valley.

Apart altogether from a very fine presentation of its subject, the beauty that the window itself brings to the church as a study in colour harmony and design is unmistakable, and can hardly fail to be a stimulus to the aesthetic senses and imagination of those who look upon it.

 

* * * *



THE BOYS BRIGADE WINDOW

In 2007, to mark the centenary of the 1st Darvel Company of the Boys Brigade, a stained glass window was commission to be inserted into the central part larger window in the west transept.  This window was paid for by subscription and shows the BB emblem (with the updated spelling of 'Steadfast' which replaced the old 'Stedfast' in later years,) the 1st Darvel Company banner and the dates 1907-2007 all set against a background of small square panes in subtle, muted gold, green and lilac, in keeping with the larger window of which the BB window forms the central panel.

 

* * * * 



MEMORIAL PLAQUES

On the front of the organ casework are two memorial plaques.

The first is to the former Darvel Central Church's first organist, Charles Boyd.  Following Mr. Boyd's sudden passing on 22nd February 1940, a plaque was erected in his memory by the congregation in recognition of his 31 years' service as first organist and choirmaster of the church.  The plaque was dedicated by the minister after having  been unveiled by Mr. Robert Richardson, the longest serving member of the choir, on Sunday 26th May 1940.


 

 

 


The second is to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. William Paterson, devoted members of the Central Church and this was erected by the members of their family, Tom and Mary, in March 1974.  Mr. Paterson was an elder for over 47 years and session clerk for 15 of them.  Mrs. Paterson was on several occasions president of the Women's Guild and founder of the Women's Guild Choir.

 

 

 

In the small, walled, gravel area just outside the rear window of the small hall stand two stone memorial plaques which were brought to the new Darvel Parish Church from the former Irvine Bank and Easton Memorial Church, them both having originated in the former Easton Memorial Church.


The first of these is to the memory of the Rev. Robert Bonellie, former minister of Easton Memorial.

 

 

 

It reads:

TO THE GLORY OF GOD
AND IN
GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE
OF
REV. ROBERT BONELLIE
FAITHFUL MINISTER OF
THIS CHURCH, AN EARNEST
PREACHER OF THE GOSPEL
AND A DEVOTED PASTOR.

INDUCTED 1894, DIED 1923

"THE PREACHER PASS,
THE WORD REMAIN."


The second of these to Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Easton, a most influential minister of the then Free Church, both in the church itself and in the wider community and in whose memory the church was renamed, "Easton Memorial." 

 

 

 

Parts of the stone are now so weathered as to be all but illegible, but an approximation of its inscription is as follows:


IN MEMORY OF
REV. M. C. EASTON D.D.
THIRD MINISTER
OF
THIS CONGREGATION
WHO LABOURED HERE FOR 33 YEARS
BORN 3RD JUNE 1823
DIED 1894
IN THE 34TH YEAR OF HIS MINISTRY

ERECTED
BY
THE CONGREGATION IN APPRECIATION
AND REMEMBRANCE OF
HIS LIFE AND (remainder illegible)


"HE BEING DEAD, YET SPEAKETH"




On the front panels of the communion table are two memorial plaques to late ministers of the former Darvel Central Church.




The first is to the memory of Darvel Central Church's first minister, Rev. John Watson Jack (1862-1937) who served as minister of the church for almost fifty years, from 1889 until his death in 1937.  (Click on picture to read full inscription.)

 

 

 

 

The second is to the second minister of Darvel Central Church (and last minister of that congregation) Rev. Ian M. W. Collins (1914-1998) who was longest serving minister in the Church of Scotland to have been in only one charge.  He ministered in Darvel for fifty-five years, from 1937 until his retirement in 1992, thereby giving Darvel Central Church - at the time of that congregation's dissolution - the peculiar claim of having had in 104 years, only two ministers. (Click on picture to read full inscription.)


* * * *


THE IONA CROSS

On the communion table in Darvel Parish Church for many years stood the Iona Cross.  This was purchased for the former Darvel Central Church in 1988 by subscriptions by members and friends of the congregation to celebrate the centenary of the church.  Since more modern style of worship places the minister at the communion table for a large proportion of the church service, the Iona Cross has been moved from the communion table to a permanent place which has been created for it, on a custom-made plinth on the sill of the west transept window.

The cross is of solid brass and set in a polished marble base.

 

* * * * 



"THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD" TAPESTRY

In 1976 Mrs. Elizabeth Service kindly presented to the congregation a magnificent tapestry reproduction of Holman Hunt's famous picture "The Light of the World," the original of which famously hangs in St. Paul's Cathedral, London.  This lovely tapestry hangs on the west wall of the church in the west transept near the chancel and with its exquisite blend of colours and its aesthetic symbolism it enriches the beauty of the sanctuary and enhances its value as a place of meditation, worship and prayer.


 

* * * * 

 

"THE LAST SUPPER"

Following the death of the long-established local funeral director, James Dykes Esq., it was discovered that, in recognition of his gratitude to Darvel Parish Church for their support in the course of his business, he had left to them one of his most prized possessions:  the limited edition Capo di Monte statuette realization of the famous Leonardo da Vinci fresco, "The Last Supper."  Production of this piece was limited to 1500 pieces in various sizes and this one is a truly splendid ornament which makes a very unique addition to the sanctuary of the church.  It currently resides in a glass case in the north-east corner of the church, immediately to the right of the Gowanbank Window (see above.)


* * * * 


THE GUILD BANNER

To mark the millennium year, the Church of Scotland Guild had a national campaign to encourage every church guild to design and make a textile banner in order to have a "Millennium Banner Exhibition."  The banner created by the ladies of Darvel Parish Church Guild hangs on the south wall of the sanctuary, to the west side immediately above the hymn board.

It depicts the wonders of nature in the shining sun, the dove of peace descending from the sky toward two people who appear to be weeping.  It bears the legend:

"GOD BE WITH YOU."


* * * * 


THE 'DEER' BOULDER

For the General Assembly of 2011's "Roll Away the Stone" project, each church's representative had to take from their respective town a stone labelled with the place name.  These stones were placed in a great cairn in Princess Street Gardens and a stone was selected so that the whole Assembly could pray for the place from where that particular stone had originated.  The people of Darvel were very moved to learn that it was Darvel's stone which was selected, and it was therefore the congregation and people of the parish of Darvel who received the Assembly's prayers on that occasion.

At the end of the Assembly, each representative had to select a stone from the cairn in the hope that they would take this stone back to their own church in order that the congregation may remember and pray for the church from where the stone came.  Darvel's representatives returned to us with a stone originating from the Parish Church of Deer in Aberdeenshire.  The stone remains on the communion table from week to week as a reminder.


* * * * 

CHURCH MODEL

 

Unearthed some years ago, this wooden scale model of Darvel Parish Church building was made by Tom Anderson of Hastings Place, Darvel, who worked for John Rankin's joinery business - the company who carried out the carpentry work at the building of the church.  This model was probably made at the time of the church's construction in 1888 and may or may not have been for a specific purpose at the time.

In more recent years, extensive renovation work was carried out by Mr. Alex Campbell - then of Burn Road, Darvel - which restored it to its present condition.

It currently has a permanent place on the mantlepiece above the fireplace in the small hall.

 

* * * * 


THE LARGE HALL COMPLEX

Due to the space available at the time of the building of the church, a small hall had to suffice for the church's needs.  This proved suitable for meetings and small gatherings, but was largely unsuitable for the many demands normally made upon a church hall.  From 1951-1983 the church owned the former O.C. Church building in West Donington Street which served as the main hall during this time.  In 1983 it became apparent that dry rot and other problems had taken hold in the fabric and it was regretfully but unanimously decided to sell the building.  It was purchased by the trustees of the Diocese of Galloway and now stands as Darvel's beautiful Roman Catholic church, Our Lady of the Valley.

Following the loss of the West Donington Street hall, the church was again in the position of having only the sanctuary and a very small hall (see right) in which to function.  As far back as 1983 plans were being made and dreams were being dreamt about the building of a new purpose-built hall if suitable land could be obtained.  Fundraising started around this time in many forms, most enduringly the twice-per-week coffee mornings inaugurated by Mrs. Betty Service, widow of the much-loved local general practitioner, Dr. David Service and an indefatigable worker for the church.

By a stroke of luck (or as many said at the time, by Divine intervention,) at the same time as sufficient funds had been raised to purchase some land for the building of a hall, the plot immediately behind the church became vacant due to the demolition of the majority of Alexander Morton & Company's former factory buildings.  This was bought by the church and held in readiness for the building of a new, purpose-built hall when sufficient monies had been raised.  Fundraising continued until at last in 1998 Darvel Parish Church were able to complete the building of their new hall complex with no debts owing. 

The new hall (left) was dedicated on Thursday 24th September 1998 by the minister, Rev. Robert Travers in the presence of the congregation, friends, guests and members of the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock.  Mrs. May Gray of Fenwick - a great friend in music of Darvel Parish Church who participated in many musical events for the "New Hall Fund" - sang a solo of The Holy City and Gordon Cree was at the organ.  The ladies of the church served a most luxurious tea in the new hall following the service and the hall was now officially in use.

The complex consists of a paved forecourt with parking spaces for up to eight cars, entrance vestibule, entrance hall, ground floor meeting room, male, female and disabled lavatories, large main hall, large fitted kitchen, store cupboard, large storage bay leading to loft space via hatch and ladder and stairwell leading to first floor meeting room with WC and further store cupboard.

Although the new hall was only built a matter of feet away from the rear wall of the original church buildings, the two were not connected and the only way to get from the church to the new hall was to leave the church onto Hastings Square and from there via West Main Street onto Ranoldcoup Road where the main entrance is to be found - a journey of around 200 metres.  Provision had been made in the architectural plans of the new hall to allow for the possibility of the future addition of a bridge link between the rear of the church buildings and the first floor of the new hall and it was hoped that this would be possible in the near future.  The finance being in place, this hope came to fruition in 2001 when this bridge link was added, joining the upper landing of the hall - just outside the first floor meeting room - with the original small hall of the church, cutting through where part of  the small hall's kitchen was, although part of this kitchen was able to be retained as a narrow galley-style kitchenette.

The hall is in constant use both by the church and the wider community and has been an invaluable addition to the life of the church, taking it into the 21st century well equipped for its needs.

 

* * * * 


MINISTERS OF DARVEL PARISH CHURCH

Since Darvel Parish Church itself came about in 1992, there have been three ministers.

1993-1999  Rev. Robert Travers BA BD was ordained and inducted into his first charge of Darvel Parish Church in 1993.  He accepted a call from Irvine Old Parish Church in 1999, where he still serves.

 

  

 

2001-2009  Rev. Dr. Charles M. Cameron BA BD PhD came to us after a substantial career in the ministry having been in three previous charges: St. Ninian's, Dunfermline (1980-1996), Burnside Presbyterian Church, Portstewart, Northern Ireland (1996-1998) and Castlemilk West Church, Glasgow (1998-2001.)  In 2009 he accepted a call from St. Andrews Church in Dumbarton where he remained for over two years before being called to the charge of Prestongrange Church in Prestonpans, near Edinburgh as of February 2012.


 

2010-Present   Rev. Charles Lines BA (Hons) was ordained and inducted to his first charge of Darvel Parish Church in early 2010 and continues to be a popular and inspirational figure in the life of the parish of Darvel.