Mearns Parish Kirk

Image of Mearns Parish Kirk

The site on which the present day church stands has been a place of worship for centuries. We know of the existence of a church there in 1186 as that year, a man named Helia obtained the church lands of Mearns and in 1186 granted Mearns Church to the Monastery at Paisley. However, the site probably had earlier associations with St. Bride and the Celtic church.

The original church was refurbished in 1792 and a new manse was built in 1789 (under the ministry of George McLatchie)

Image of Templars Stone, Mearns Parish Kirk

A larger church was built in 1813. This was enlarged in 1842 and then again in 1853. Finally in 1932, a vestry, session and chancel house were added.

The Parish school was also situated at Mearnskirk and had 103 pupils in 1842 when it was described as 'one of the largest and airiest of any in the west of Scotland (New Statistical Account) It stood on the site of today's church manse and was the principle school in the parish until the new school was built at Newton Mearns in 1875.

Kirkyard Project

Attached to the church is a beautiful kirkyard containing stones dating back hundreds of years - the earliest readable inscription dates from 1611. Recently a team of volunteers, Mearns Kirkyard Project, began to record the inscriptions on the gravestones. After securing lottery funding, the group was able to expand their work and not only record the inscriptions but had each stone photographed and carried out research on the families buried there.  The information is  available in the format of books and CD-Roms. Books are available for reference at Giffnock, Clarkston and Mearns Community Libraries.

Mystery Stone

This mysterious stone leans against the east wall of the church. It was discovered during the building works of 1932. The stone depicts a cross within a circle and beside that, a sword. Glasgow archaeologist Ludovic Mann (1869-1955) thought the stone was a Templar memorial and was probably as old as the 13th century.

The Knights Templars full name was the 'Poor fellow soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon' and they were formed in the aftermath of the 1st crusade of 1096. Originally, the Templars were a military religious order whose purpose was to ensure the safety of the large numbers of European pilgrims who travelled to Jerusalem after its conquest. As the order grew in size and power it became very wealthy and non-combatant sections of the order began to institute many financial techniques which were the foundations of modern banking. They acquired vast amounts of land in Britain and locally were said to own land at Capelrig, Newton, Southfield, Broom, Blackhouse, Shawhill and Burnhouse.

In the early 1300s the order fell from favour as the French king Philip IV, eager to get his hands on the wealth built up by the Templars, persecuted, tortured and executed its members. Finally, in 1312 he persuaded Pope Clement V to disband the order.  Much of the land in Scotland owned by the Templars was given to another religious military order the Knights Hospitiller or 'Order of the Knights of St. John' who had been introduced to the country by David I.

Could the stone in Mearns Kirkyard have marked the final resting place of a member of one or other of these orders?

Further Information

Loudon, Anne & Kidd, David, Old Newton Mearns, Stenlake Publishing, 2001

Williams, Lesley (revised by Loudon, A), Mearns Matters, Stenlake Publishing, 2003