Craigie Symington Parish Church

History of Symington Church

The Norman church in Symington is amongst the oldest in Scotland and is certainly one of the most beautiful.

The church was founded in 1160AD by Symon Loccard, a local landowner who owned land in both Ayrshire and Lanarkshire. It is understood that the village and parish derived its name (originally "Symonstown") from him.

The original building consisted only of the main section of the current church and would have had a mud floor with people bringing their own seating to services. In 1750 during the ministry of Richard Cunningham the church underwent extensive repairs and was furnished with new pews. The walls and ceiling were plastered, thus covering the magnificent oak beams that towered above. In 1797 the then minister William Logan had the North side of the building extended to form a transept with gallery above.

Two other galleries were also added, one at the East end and one at the West end. In building the East gallery the lovely central Norman arch was broken into to make a doorway to the gallery, miraculously it was not destroyed beyond repair.

In 1919 the church was restored under the leadership of the Rev. John Gage Boyd and the skilled direction of Dr. MacGregor Chalmers. The plaster was removed from the ceiling and walls revealing the original oak beams.

The East and West galleries were removed and the damaged central Norman arch restored. Only the North gallery and the stairs leading to it remained. The work was carried out as a memorial to the men from the Parish who fell in the First World War and was dedicated by the Very Rev. Dr. Wallace Williamson in November 1919. The church had now been returned to much of its ancient beauty. However, finance had been a problem in 1919 and some work remained to be carried out. As a result, in 1950 the pews were removed from the chancel and the old communion table which had been too small and of a gothic rather than Norman design was replaced by a new Communion Table in Blaxter Stone.

Two new sets of Elders' stalls, also in Blaxter Stone, were placed in groups of four on either side of the Sanctuary.

During the alterations care was taken to re-inter the bones believed to be of Symon Loccard which had been discovered buried under the chancel during the first restoration. The ashes of the late Rev. John Gage Boyd were also buried in the chancel and the positions marked by two simple crosses on the stone floor.

Today, Symington Parish Church is a remarkably well preserved part of our heritage and is a truly fitting place to hear God's word. For many years the church was part of a linked-charge with Craigie Parish Church near Kilmarnock. In May 2014 the two churches were united; the church at Craigie was closed and Symington Church was renamed Craigie Symington Parish Church. Then, in November 2015, following the retirement of the Minister, Craigie Symington Parish Church was linked with Prestwick South Parish Church with the two congregations sharing a Minister and a Manse.

When visiting, the church is entered from the West through a porch which was added in 1960 to celebrate the Octo - Centenary. Above the entrance is a stained glass window depicting "The Risen and Glorified Lord". This is one of a number of truly beautiful stained glass windows in the church, the work of Dr. Douglas Strachan.

To the North is the extended gallery and organ loft. The East end of the church is home to the Communion table, Elder's stalls and oak Prayer Desk. Underneath the three Norman arches in the East wall are a series of three stained glass windows which depict "The Nativity", "The Crucifixion" and "The Ascension".

The South Wall houses the pulpit and the Priest's Door complete with the original bolt holes for the very long thick bar which had been used to secure the door.

Beyond the Priests Door lies the Vestry and "Session House". In the sill of a window depicting "The Last Supper" we can see the "Piscina Stone". Through this basin wine from a Communion Service would be poured back to the earth from which it came.

Overhead the oak beams can still be seen and add a final touch to a sanctuary which provides worshippers with a place of tremendous beauty and tranquillity.

Visits to the church can be arranged with prior notice by contacting the Session Clerk - John McNeil on 01563 830891.

Services

Our Sunday service is held at 09.30am. All visitors are made most welcome.

Web Contacts

John McNeil: johnjmcneil@waitrose.com

History of Symington Book

John W. Nimmo has written a history of Symington through the centuries. More...

Symington book