The parish of Kilwinning is small in area lying in the Cunningham district of North Ayrshire. The parish includes the sizable town of the same name, Furgushill and Eglinton Castle.
Kilwinning town lies on the River Garnock, a few miles inland from Ardrossan by way of busy Stevenston, is notable as the home of freemasonry in Scotland, Mother Lodge Kilwinning (No. 0) having been founded in 1107, at the same time as the Abbey, of which the few remains have been incorporated into the present Parish Church. The history page has more details on the development of the town.
Kilwinning was known earlier this century for its engineering works, iron foundry and fire-clay works and with an older worsted-spinning industry. The town has grown considerably into the suburban sprawl linking Irvine in the south and Stevenston and Ardrossan to the west.
Eglinton Castle (the seat of the Earl of Eglinton) is chiefly remembered as the scene of the great tournament in 1839 by which it was hoped to revive certain aspects of ancient chivalry. Among the combatants was the Emperor Napoleon III. The castle fell into ruin after being unroofed in 1925. After use for naval gunnery practice during WWII, the remaining ruins were demolished in 1973. The old Home Farm has been transformed into the Eglinton Country park which is open to visitors.
Between Kilwinning and the sea is a somewhat desolate area of sandhills in which were once large explosive works. Through this area the River Garnock winds to the sea, and the Irvine, after making an extraordinary loop, joins it, just below the town of Irvine. The area includes the disused Bogside racecourse.
An 1837 description of Kilwinning, including a listing of the key personalities of the town, is given in this extract from Pigot's Directory for Ayrshire. The transcript was provided by Keith Muirhead from Queensland.
There is a web site for Kilwinning. It contains a virtual tour of the town, maps, churches etc.