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Ballantrae Church History

In the reign of James V (1513 - 1542) the monks imposed an annual tax of £2 13s. 4d. on Innertig. Obviously the Parish was poor, so a "reader' had to do duty instead of a vicar. Andrew Oliphant was in charge at the time of the Reformation; John Cunningham held office from 1571 - 1574; Alexander Kennedy from 1575 - 1585.

At the end of the 16th century, the Church was in a ruinous condition but by this time its situation was inconvenient to the Laird of Bargany and Ardstinchar, and to the people who lived in the clachan or village which clustered around Ardstinchar Castle. No one, therefore, was anxious to repair it, partly, one supposes, because there must have been a desire for a new Church in the village.

In 1601 Gilbert Kennedy died of wounds received in a skirmish in a snow storm at Maybole, and his body was interred at St. John's Church in Ayr. His young widow, however, had a tomb or vault constructed at Ballantrae and in 1604 a new Church was built over it, on a site south of the present Church.

Old Church


Plan of the Old Kirk


Lady Bargany died near London in 1605 and her body was brought back to Scotland and placed beside the remains of her husband in the Church at Ayr. Shortly afterwards, the remains of the Laird and his Lady were removed from Ayr to the vault at Ballantrae. The funeral was conducted with great pomp and splendour, and must have been a most impressive spectacle. One account states that "the procession which accompanied the remains from Ayr to Ballantrae numbered one thousand gentlemen on horseback. including three Earls and many Lords and Barons. A nephew of the slain Ardstinchar bore the banner of revenge; on which was painted a picture of the Laird and the motto ' Judge and revenge my cause, O Lord'. A vast concourse of people attended the funeral ceremonies at Ballantrae."

Bargany Tomb

A description of the, Bargany Tomb, written over 200 years ago states, that it is situated on the south side of the Kirk exactly in its centre. Apparently this aisle was a transept of the Kirk, built over the vault. This transept was, of course, open to the body of the Kirk, but the arch has since been filled up with solid masonry, with a stout wooden door in its centre. With the exception of this Kennedy tomb and a smaller aisle or tomb attached to the. west side of it, no other vestige of the old Kirk now remains; the site whereon it stood is fully occupied by graves and tombstones.


Ballantrae Charity Number: SC008536 ----------------------- St Colmon Charity Number SC014381