Kay Park Parish Church: History
After a reappraisal by the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock it was decided that there should be a voluntary union between Henderson Church and Old High Church. After due discussion and decisions the union took place on 1 November 2012. There was, on 4 November 2012 a celebration of Holy Communion at the first service of the new church, Kay Park Parish Church. Subsequently, funds released as a result of this union were used to refurbish the sanctuary and halls of KPPC, formerly known as Henderson Church In London Road Kilmarnock.
On 21 August 2016 there was a formal rededication of the sanctuary and halls and the service was conducted by the Very Rev Dr David Lacy and a sermon preached by the Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The Director of Music was Alexander B Ferguson, long-standing organist and choirmaster of Henderson Church and now Kay Park Parish Church.
Henderson Church History
KPPC now occupies the building formerly known as Henderson Church in London Road Kilmarnock. That building was the third building of the congregation of Henderson Church which was founded in 1773 after 60 members left the Laigh Kirk in the patronage dispute with the Earl of Glencairn over the appointment of his nominee to the second charge there. Briefly the first place of worship was Gallowsknowe Meeting House (1773 – 1818) situated at the northern end of Wellington Street followed by the second building at the foot of Boyd Street known as Kilmarnock Burgher Church and later as Henderson Church (1818 – 1907). The present building was first opened for worship on 8 September 1907. The sum of £4000 had to be raised before the building could commence. A grand bazaar was held in December 1904 in the Agricultural Hall now known as theGrand Hall London Road.
On the north side can be seen the windows which bear the inscription, “to the Glory of God and in memory of the Rev David Landsborough, for 61 years Minister of this congregation. Ordained 31 July 1857, died 22 November 1912.” During the latter years of his remarkable Ministry, the church was usually referred to as Dr Landsborough’s church.
The Organ is a three manual Norman and Beard organ installed in 1907 and is generally regarded as a fine instrument.
The Chancel Windows. On the left St Paul as depicted – “fight the good fight of faith”. On the right St John – “beloved, let us love one another”. And in the centre the Lord – “he shall carry the lambs with his arm and carry them in his bosom”.
Side Chapel Memorial Windows. A full description with photographs can be viewed in the videos section of the church website.
Further information On Henderson Church can be read in a pamphlet, “Henderson Church Bicentenary”, printed by Smith Bros Kilmarnock Scotland.
The Old High Church
The Old High Church, Kilmarnock, was built in 1732. The town was growing fast and Laigh Kirk was oversubscribed and so it was decided a new church should be built in the north of the town. In 1732 the church was known as the Kilmarnock Chapel or the Chapel of Ease. The ground was donated by the fourth Earl of Kilmarnock William Boyd of the Dean Castle Estates for a feu of one old penny if asked.
Lords, Boyd and Orr subscribed 1000 merks/£55 Scots and local councils subscribed £30 Scots from the malt tax towards the building of the new Chapel. A substantial sum of money.
The Cupola was a first of its kind in Scotland and the session house and library were built after the removal of the outside staircases. The toilet and boiler house were added at a much later date.
In 1811 The High Church was set up with its own Kirk Session, with the parish of the surrounding streets. The cottages around the church were homes to the various trades at that time, weavers shoemakers stocking and bonnet makers and others.
The Old High Kirk is the oldest complete church building in the town of Kilmarnock, because on 18 October 1801 a very sad incident occurred at the Laigh Kirk when the people thought that the roof was about to fall in. The congregation panicked and stampeded for the door at the end of narrow corridors and the pressure caused many to fall and be trampled resulting in the deaths of 29 people. Apart from the tower of that building the main building of the Laigh Kirk was demolished and rebuilding work commenced in 1802.
With other churches one notes that most stained-glass windows are usually installed by different artists at different times but the Old High Kirk is unique in this respect as all the windows were designed by the same artists and installed the same time thus completing a very fine set of 23 windows.
The Kirk yard surrounding the Kirk has many famous business names of the town of that era buried there. There are 10 provosts numerous town clerks and treasurers and John Wilson printer of Burns Poems. “The Kilmarnock Edition”. A number of ministers of the Kirk and other churches in the area and also buried there.
More of this history can be read in the following books:
The Old High Kirk of Kilmarnock by J. Railton
Scotland’s Best Churches by John R Hume.