New Cumnock Parish Church



AULD KIRK (1659-1833)


In 1650 the parish of Cumnock was divided into the two new parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock. The parish of Old Cumnock was served by the existing (‘old’) church that was situated at the heart of what is now the town of Cumnock. A ‘new’ church was required to serve the parish of New Cumnock. It was built on the castle-hill in 1659 adjacent to the site of Cumnock Castle the ancient seat of the barons of Cumnock.

 Helen J Steven, writing in 1899, in her invaluable ‘Cumnocks Old and New’ describes the ruined parish church as follows-

 The little church , erected in 1659 in the parish of New Cumnock, reflects something of the brief prosperity of the time. It was only a small edifice, but the ruins which stand to this day shew it to have been built with taste and discernment and with a knowledge of art in which many of the small parishes churches built both before and after that period are utterly lacking. It is semi-cruciform in shape, with windows in the style of the Early English decorated. The windows are exceedingly fine and quite entire, with delicate pillars and open carving of mason-work. Unfortunately the architect has given but a small doorway to the church – at one time there may have been three doors according to the old custome – and that without the slightest pretension to architectural beauty. Ivy has rooted itself about the ancient edifice and is climbing up the walls. One of the beautiful windows is almost spoiled in outline by the mass of green leaves. A little pruning could be done to excellent purpose, for both the ivy and the windows are so fine that it would be an act of vandalism to destroy either, or both’.


The original parish church of New Cumnock built on the castle hill in 1659 passed into history as the Auld Kirk with the building of the new parish church a few hundred yards along the main thoroughfare through the village. It was built on landed gifted by the Marquis of Bute, the patron of the church.


Helen J Steven in her classic ‘Cumnocks Old and New’ published in 1899 picks up the story.

‘The building is seated for 1000 persons and is well and substantially built, with tall, latticed, ecclesiastical windows, and handsome clock tower. The clock in the tower is of later date, having been presented in 1872 by W. Alison Cuninghame, Esq., of Logan. The dial is 3’6″ square, and the pendulum 14 feet in length. It was erected at a cost of hundred guineas. The interior of the church is light and pleasing, well and comfortably seated. The pulpit is of the old three-decker style, with sounding board and precentor’s desk. The singing, now-a-days, is led by a harmonium. The acoustics of the church are perfect. The front seats of the gallery are held by the heritors of the parish.The church cost £2000, which represented more , sixty years ago, than the same sum at the present value of money. It was opened on the 26th May 1833, when Mr. Craig preached with great acceptance to a large congregation.’

Seats in the church were allocated to the heritors (landowners in the parish) and their families. Thankfully the record allocation of the seats in 1833 survives.

  • Who were the Heritors of the parish of New Cumnock?   … click here
  • Who were the ministers of the parish of New Cumnock?   … click here