Lost Graveyards – Barrhead


At Main Street, Barrhead, Renfrewshire there once stood Old Arthurlie Church, known locally as the White or White-washed Kirk. Adjacent to the church was the Arthurlie Burial Ground.

North Arthurlie United Free Church, to give its full title, was erected in 1790 as the Burgher Meeting House. Burgher Meeting Houses were places where congregations which had broken away (‘seceded’) from the established Church met and worshipped. Diane Baptie in her A Short History of the Secession Churches in Scotland describes the background as follows.

The ministers of these secession movements were uncompromising men and so tended to be difficult to work with and it is no surprise that it did not take long for dissension to arise amongst them. A split occurred in 1745. The bone of contention was a religious clause in the oaths that burgesses had to take in the royal burghs of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth. In 1744, the more extreme seceders had argued that they could not in all conscience take the oath because this would mean that they approved of the Church of Scotland. The outcome was the establishment of two churches – the General Associate Synod (Antiburghers) and the Associate Synod (Burghers)

The following description of Arthurlie Church appears in David Pride’s A History of the Parish of Neilston.

It is a substantial, but severely plain structure, quite in accordance with the belief in simple and unadorned church architecture that characterised many religious bodies at that period. This church has a large burial-ground around it. Before the union of the Free and United Presbyterian Churches, this was the United Presbyterian church of Barrhead.

In 1967/68, both were demolished. A sports centre stands on the site of the church and a car park on the burial ground The remains of the deceased were re-interred in Neilston Cemetery. East Renfrewshire Archives has a book of M.I.s from Arthurlie Old burial ground and the Cemeteries Department has records of where the deceased were re-interred in Neilston Cemetery.

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