Founded in 1823, Troon Old Parish Church was recognized as a quoad sacra congregation (created and functioning for ecclesiastical purposes only) in 1837, when the Parish of Dundonald was split in three to form Dundonald Parish, Fullarton (Halfway) Q. S. Parish and Troon Q. S. Parish. Over our history the congregation has met in five different locations in the town, settling in the present Hippolyte Blanc designed sanctuary in 1895. Since 1823, we have been served by nine ministers including Rev David Prentice-Hyers. The Parish of Troon Old is a constituent part of the Church of Scotland Presbytery of Ayr.
The First Church
The first church was in built in Barassie Street in 1822 and was used until 1838 when the church which is now used as Troon Old’s main church hall was built.
The New Church
Laying The New Church Memorial Stone
The memorial stone of the new Parish Church was laid on Saturday, 28th October 1893 by the Duke and Duchess of Portland. The splendour of the occasion was marred a little by the weather. The Troon Times records the heavy clouds driven by a high wind roaring from the sea, slanting rain, white breakers tumbling on the beach close by and a dripping crowd. The town had as much a holiday look as wet bunting could give it and it is fair to say that all the rain that fell did not damp the enthusiasm of the crowds who welcomed the Duke and Duchess.
In the presence of a large and distinguished company of guests the ceremony began with a short service.
Thereafter an illuminated address was presented to the Duke of Portland by the Minister, the Rev Robert Smith. Part of the address read as follows:
“May it please your Grace – On behalf of the Church and Parish of Troon, and many friends in the Church of Scotland, we beg to thank your Grace and Duchess for coming to lay the memorial stone in this new Parish. The movement to erect the Church, which began two years ago, has been enthusiastically supported both inside and outside the congregation. The design, your Grace will see, is elegant in form, pure in style and true to the idea of the Church. When completed, we believe it will be a credit to the Church of Scotland and an ornament to Troon…”
The address was signed by Mr Smith, Mr Adam Wood and Mr James Wyllie, chairman and vice-chairman respectively of the building committee and Mr R F Black, secretary and Mr George Paton, treasurer. The Duke acknowledged the address and speaking of the very great pleasure he had in being there, expressed the hope that with God’s help the new church would prove in days to come a source of the greatest benefit and of religious welfare to the people of Troon.
Speeches over, the stone was swung into position and then formally laid by the Duke using a presentation trowel in a silver sheath. The Duchess then scattered corn, wine and oil over the stone. The stone itself is in two parts, each weighing half a ton, is visible from the west wall of the chancel. Some thirty articles are contained in a glass jar in the stone: copies of the address delivered that day, photographs of the Minister and Senior Elder, names of office bearers, a description of the new church, a photograph of the old church, newspapers, church magazines and coins of the realm.
Relics of the occasion are still preserved within the church, a photograph of the silver trowel used by the Duke of Portland, also the mallet, the level and the square used in setting the stone. Three of these articles were made from a piece of old oak from a pawl placed at the pier-end of Troon, when the harbour was originally built and which stood there till just before 1893. The wood was found to be exceedingly hard and the articles were formed from a design by the architect, Mr Blanc.
The Troon Times of 1893 in a special article pays particular tribute to two laymen, who along with the Minister and the Architect, were closely and liberally identified with the building of the church. The first was Mr Adam Wood, chairman of the building committee, of whom Dr Smith said at the time that “though they roamed Scotland they could not have found a better chairman.” Mr Wood, a JP of the county of Ayr and Superintendant of the harbour, was closely associated with the Minister in all the plans for the building and his names lives on in virtue of his outstanding liberality to the Church, he later donated the suite of halls which link the new church to the old church. The other layman singled out by the Troon Times was Mr James Dickie, an East India merchant and a native of the town. Though often out of Troon for a considerable part of the year, Mr Dickie nevertheless was closely linked and deeply interested in the building of the church. Like Mr Wood he was of a generous nature, he later donated the richly carved stone font which is in use in the sanctuary. The font was specially made and is an exact replica of the pulpit in every detail of its carving.
The Opening of the Church
Some three years afterwards the church was completed and on the 26th December 1895 was dedicated to the public worship of God. The ceremonies that day fell into two parts. First came the service of worship in the church at 12 noon. The officiating Ministers were Dr Archibald Scott, Edinburgh and moderator Designate of the General Assembly; the Rev James Miller, Moderator of the Presbytery of Ayr; the Rev James Wilson, Clerk to the Presbytery; and the Rev Robert Smith, Minister of the parish.
The doors were opened at 11:15 am. By noon the few pews made available for those who had not received tickets of admission were filled up and the church was packed to capacity. Dr Scott spoke trenchantly that day on the subject of the church building and said that man’s piety was of small account who lavished money on his own dwelling and refused to give a shilling towards the adornment of the house of God. After the opening service, a banquet followed in the large hall of the Unionist club. The officiating clergy, members of Presbytery and other guests, were entertained at the expense of the Duke of Portland and among toasts were those of the “Church of Scotland” proposed by the Duke and the “New Church” proposed by the Rev Archibald Fleming of Perth, son of Troon’s first Minister.
The church itself is an example of Gothic architecture of the 12th century, built from designs by Mr H J Blanc. The plan of the church is of cruciform outline and the main measurements are as follows. Nave: 88ft high by 36ft. Transept: 31ft by 19ft. Chancel 26ft by 16ft. The total height of the gable from the ground to the top of the stone finial is 70ft. The steeple, never completed, was planned to be 180ft high. The local paper sums up thus: “looked at from any point of view, either in the interior or outside, the Church is a thing of beauty, and barring accident should be a joy for centuries to the people of the district.”
At the time of the opening of the church, not all the work of the building had been completed. The plans included, in addition to the sanctuary itself, “a vestry, retiring room, class rooms and a large hall, the whole being arranged so as to form a cloister court on one side of the Church.” It was not until some 40 years later that these plans were finally and fully executed and in 1934 the present splendid and capacious suite of halls were made available for the organisational side of the church’s life.
One of the main benefactors of the fund which led to the construction of the halls was the late Adam Wood of Portland Villa, who was also an original member of (Royal) Troon Golf Club joining in 1878 and presented them, when he was club Captain in 1915, with the world’s oldest golf clubs.
Some ten years after the dedication of the new church, the chancel was completed. The walls of the chancel were then lined with the present wainscott panelling, the chief feature of which is the exquisite Reredos behind the Communion table, the centre panel is a carved representation of the last supper and on either side the two smaller panels represent Moses expounding the Commandments and St Paul preaching the Gospel. The whole of the chancel work was the gift of Miss Carstairs of Bellevue, Troon.