How fortuitous that this week’s photography challenge came in my email the same day I got an message from STV (a Scottish Television Channel) asking my permission to use one of my photographs in a programme about doors. Yes, sounds rivetting, doesn’t it? But it’s still nice to be appreciated, even if it is only watched by 50 or 60 people in the country.
Newmilns Keep is a fortified tower and the oldest building in the town – built in the 16th century c1530. It was in the possession of John Campbell of Newmilns, who was summoned to appear before King James IV as one of the Lollards of Kyle. In 1685 it was being used as a barracks for dragoons and a prison for Covenanters when it was attacked by local men who succeeded in freeing 8 prisoners. It has been used as a grain store, a doocot, a band hall and a beer cellar and is now a private residence. Weathered
The things you take for granted when you were brought up and lived all your life in one place only take on importance when you move away from that particular area. I moved away from my childhood town in Scotland when I was 22 to the nearest ‘big’ town, then at the age of 44 I moved across the Atlantic, and it was only when I settled into my American town that I realised how much history and culture was on my doorstep back home in Scotland that I never did appreciate. Most American friends all know their heritage and can tell you they’re from Scottish/Irish/German descent and they know how many generations ago their ancestors moved to the States. Me, I can only go back about 4 or 5 generations at the most. It’s even more noticeable in the buildings how ‘young’ this country is. My in-laws back in Scotland lived in a cottage that was attached to a castle which was built in the 15th century. The cottage has obviously been expanded and added onto over the years from it’s 2 room original form, but it still has 3 foot thick walls and original brickwork and stones. Unfortunately the castle was demolished in 1950 because it was unsafe and is now a pile of large stones and rubble covered with grass. We all take this for granted and there’s nothing special about living in a 600 year old house.
Anyway for this post ‘Heritage’ I thought I’d throw up a few images from my home town and the surrounding area.
The townhouse was built in 1739. The steps led to the council chamber, and the side door led to the jail underneath. The town bell (housed in the belltower above the building) is engraved with the date 1547, predating the building below.
The Keep (occasionally referred to as Newmilns Tower) is Newmilns’ oldest building, dating from the 1530s. Over its history, The Keep has served many purposes, including being used as a barracks, prison, grain store, doocot, band hall and beer cellar. After falling into a state of disrepair for many years, it was restored in 1997 and now exists as housing.
Loudoun Kirk is a disused church located about one mile west of Loudoun Castle (which I’m hoping to photograph this summer). It served as Loudoun’s Parish Church until some point after 1600, when this function moved to the church in nearby Newmilns. It subsequently fell into a state of disrepair, however since 1994 has been preserved by a local charity, Friends Of Loudoun Kirk.
The establishment of Loudoun Kirk marks the earliest known Christian worship in the surrounding area. It is widely regarded as having been founded in 1451, with most local historians taking this date from an 1890 translation of the Latin text, Muniments of the Royal Burgh of Irvine. Recently however, a ocal historian unearthed a letter referring to church rents dating prior to 1451. After retranslating the Muniments of Irvine, he dated Loudoun Kirk to 1198. At or soon after its foundation, the revenues of Loudoun Kirk were allocated to support the monks of the newly founded Kilwinning Abbey, however they were obliged to provide a priest (curate) to attend to the spiritual needs of the parishioners.
During the Campbell verus Kennedy feuds of 1527/8, Loudoun Kirk was badly damaged, but soon rebuilt. In 1530, in recognition of the shift in population, a chapel was built at Newmilns. Loudoun Kirk remained the parish church until at least the 17th century, at which time the chapel in Newmilns was upgraded to parochial status. Loudoun Kirk and its kirkyard continued in use for occasional church services, but more particularly as the last resting-place of generations of the parishioners of Loudoun. The building was repaired in 1898 by the Third Marquis of Bute.
Dean Castle is situated in the Dean Castle Country Park in Kilmarnock, Scotland. It was the stronghold for the Boyd Family, who were lords of Kilmarnock for over 400 years.
The Castle takes its name from ‘The Dean’ or wooded valley, a common place name in Scotland. However, until about 1700 it was called Kilmarnock Castle. Owned originally by the Boyd family, it has strong historical connections with many people and events famous in Scottish history. Robert the Bruce who gave the Boyds these lands; James III of Scotland whose sister married a Boyd; the Covenanters, some of whom were imprisoned here; Bonnie Prince Charlie, whose rebellion was joined by the 4th Earl of Kilmarnock and Robert Burns who was encouraged to publish his poetry by the Earl of Glencairn who owned the Castle at that time.
I actually worked in the Castle for a while. Whilst it was lovely working in such a beautiful place it gave me cold shivers sometimes as my imagination used to run away with itself and conjure up all sorts of spooky scenarios! There are many ghost stories surrounding the Castle which I try my hardest not to listen to….