One year ago, Kilmaronock Old Kirk was purchased by a local community trust with support from the Scottish Land Fund. Kilmaronock is the parish at the south end of Loch Lomond which embraces the villages of Gartocharn and Croftamie and the surrounding rural community. The church was closed by the Church of Scotland in 2017.
A lengthy process of community consultation and feasibility work concluded that a community trust could successfully run the church, carpark and glebe field as a community owned venture. So as not to compete with the very successful community owned Millennium Hall in Gartocharn, the emphasis at the Old Kirk will be on providing a venue which has an arts and cultural focus. The graveyard surrounding the kirk is run by West Dunbartonshire Council and is still in use for burials. After the renovation of the kirk building, it is planned to develop the glebe as a natural burial ground. This will ensure the long-term sustainability of the site both in terms of its economic viability and carbon footprint.
The church was built in 1813 but occupies a site that probably dates back to the days of the early Celtic missionaries. The trust has been exploring the history of graveyard with the help of Archaeology Scotland’s Adopt a Monument team. There are a number of 17th and 18th century grave slabs as well as one pre-reformation slab with carvings of a cross and sword. About 10 years ago Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society produced a booklet detailing nearly 400 Memorial Inscriptions, which is providing a very useful starting point. Kirk Session minutes and the Diary of the Reverend Thomas Leckie written in 1718/19 are providing fascinating insights into life in a rural parish several hundred years ago.
Please visit our website www.kilmaronockoldkirk.org.uk for more information and contact details if you would like to get in touch with us. Members and volunteers are always most welcome.