Kirk History of LARGS, Ayrshire

"The ancient church of this interesting parish formerly stood within the burying-ground near the foot of Main Street, but when its rebuilding became necessary in 1812, it was removed from its primitive site to a more open and eligible situation. The old church was a building of unknown antiquity and of great strength, and appears from the chartularies of Glasgow and Paisley to have existed before the memorable battle of Largs. In proximity to the church is a large tumulus, or mound, beneath which human bones were discovered, giving rise to the supposition that this is the burial place of the vanquished Norwegians, and affording testimony corresponding to that of the Norwegian chronicler, who affirms that Haco did bury at least some of his dead at the church of Largs."

"An aisle erected in 1636 by Sir Robert Montgomerie of Skelmorlie, and which extended northward from the demolished church, has been left entire. The aisle contains a burial vault in which Sir Robert, according to local tradition, was in the habit of spending whole nights, and this is countenanced in some degree by the following inscription on the lid of his coffin:

"I predeceased myself:
I anticipated my proper funeral
Alone among all mortals, following the example of Caesar.""

"In another coffin are the remains of Sir Hugh Montgomerie, who slew Earl Percy at the battle of Otterburn, and was afterwards himself killed. Over the burial vault is a stately and richly sculptured monument, erected in 1639 by the same eminent person. In general design it presents two fronts and profiles responding to each other in almost every respect. ..........Above the door, on a panel, are sculptured the quartered armorials of Montgomerie and Eglinton, impaled with Douglas and Man, having for crest, an anchor, and the motto: 'The Lord only is my support'; with the words, 'Only to God be Laud and Gloir', on a compartment bearing the initials and date, S.R.M. 1636, D.M.D."

"The aisle within is nearly twenty feet in height from the floor to the vaulted ceiling, which is thrown by painted Gothic arches, mouldings and panels, into forty-one compartments of various forms and dimensions, each of which is adorned with a religious, moral, emblematical, fanciful, or heraldic subject. The larger, if not the most masterly in design and colouring of those compositions are four views depicting the Seasons; a group of figures representing a lady receiving a deadly kick from her horse, intended to commemorate an accident which befel Dame Margaret Montgomerie; figures emblematical of justice and Fortitude; two Biblical subjects; and pictorial representations of the twelve signs of the Zodiac."

"Besides the decorations already mentioned, six landscapes occupy the upper part of as many large Gothic arches. Some of these landscapes are supposed to represent views of Skelmorlie House and of the old church of Largs. As works of art they we considered alike deficient in the three great components which go to make up a high-class picture, viz : composition, perspective, and colouring. A study of this ceiling, however, with all its defects, will repay the decorative artist, and the connoisseur in such matters. When in the full lustre of its untarnished brilliancy, the Skelmorlie Aisle must have presented a coup d'oeil exquisite of its kind, and unequalled for taste and magnificence by anything reared in Scotland...."

"Ayrshire Nights Entertainment: A Descriptive Guide to the History, Traditions, Antiquities of the County of Ayr" by John MacIntosh of Galston, Ayrshire, published in 1894, by John Menzies & Co. Of Kilmarnock, Dunlop and Drennan.

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[Last updated 23 Nov 2010 - 10:30 by Mel Lockie]