History in Structure

Churchyard, Colmonell Parish Church, Manse Road, Colmonell

A Category B Listed Building in Colmonell, South Ayrshire

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Latitude: 55.1315 / 55°7'53"N

Longitude: -4.9122 / 4°54'43"W

OS Eastings: 214442

OS Northings: 585776

OS Grid: NX144857

Mapcode National: GBR GH74.QP9

Mapcode Global: WH2R9.J83Y

Plus Code: 9C7Q43JQ+J4

Entry Name: Churchyard, Colmonell Parish Church, Manse Road, Colmonell

Listing Name: Parish Church and Churchyard

Listing Date: 14 April 1971

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 331504

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB1040

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200331504

Location: Colmonell

County: South Ayrshire

Electoral Ward: Girvan and South Carrick

Parish: Colmonell

Traditional County: Ayrshire

Tagged with: Church building Churchyard

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Dated 1772, St Colmon Parish Church is a rectangular-plan church designed in the Early English Gothic style. The church was recast and enlarged by David Bryce in 1849 and external and internal alterations were made by Sir Robert Lorimer in 1899, including the addition of the east porch and the balustraded exterior stair to the choir gallery. Located in the Stinchar Valley, the church is located at the western end of the village of Colmonell and sits on an elevated churchyard site.

The church is constructed in coursed granite rubble with contrasting ashlar dressings, moulded and pointed hoodmoulds and angled buttresses. The south elevation is rendered. There is an open bellcote on top of the east gable and a porch addition is attached to the east elevation, slightly lower in height, forming the main entranceway into the building. The later porch has two pointed arched windows flanking the chamfered entrance opening and a blind oculi window in the gable apex. There is an off-centre gabled porch on the north elevation and, on the west elevation, three tall lancet windows with a continuous hoodmould above. The south elevation contains a lintel and two datestones in the wall above one of the buttresses that read in date order: 'HEIR IS ANE HOUS BU[I]LT TO SERVE GOD, 1591 / 1772 / 1849'. A datestone in the wall next to the exterior choir gallery entrance reads: '1899'.

The interior of the church, seen in 2023, largely dates from the late-19th and 20th centuries. Decorative features include stained pine pews, a carved timber font (in memory of Captain Peter Norman Tinn, who died in 1942) and fixtures and fittings designed by Robert Lorimer dating from 1899, including the oak reredos, carved altar and pulpit. The pipe organ dates from 1908 and was built by Norman and Beard of Norwich, the decorative case was designed by Lorimer and sculpted by woodcarvers, William and Alexander Clow (Canmore).

There are 13 stained glass windows, including Arts and Crafts-style designs by Louis Davis, Douglas Strachan, Ballantine and Gardiner, James Humphries Hogan and H B Powell. The triptych in the west elevation is by Louis Davis and was donated by Robert Finnie McEwan of Bardrochat House.

The churchyard contains over 400 memorials, including some gravestones dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. These include a headstone (dating from 1772) commemorating a Covenanter, Matthew McIlwraith, who died in 1685 (Alloway and Southern Ayrshire Family History Society; St Colmon Parish Church). The Knockdolian Vault (dated 1663) is located next to the western boundary wall of the churchyard and contains memorials to the McConnel family of Knockdolian. It is rectangular on plan, roofless and topped by a stepped balustrade.

A rubble-built boundary wall with a rounded cope encloses the site. The main entrance to the churchyard has a pair of squared gatepiers with ball finials and iron gates.

Historical background

St Colmon of Ella, reputedly a nephew of St Columba, is thought to have brought Christianity to the area in around 600AD. A church has existed on the current site since at least 1179. An earlier church is shown on Blaeu's Atlas of 1654. The Statistical Account of Scotland of 1792 describes this earlier church (dated 1591) and notes it was taken down and the current building built on the foundation in 1772 (p.66).

A village plan of 1815 and the Ordnance Survey maps of 1855, 1894 and 1908 show the footprint and layout of the churchyard, boundary wall and Knockdolian vault have not significantly changed. The Ordnance Survey Name Book of 1855-57 describes the church as neat and substantial, erected in a "plain Modern Style" at the expense of the parish heritors (OS1/3/13/29). The only alterations to the footprint are the addition of the porch on the east elevation and the choir gallery stair on the southeast corner of the church (shown on the 1908 map).

Statement of Interest

The parish church and churchyard in Colmonell meets the criteria for listing for the following reasons:

Architectural interest


Colmonell Parish Church and Churchyard is a good example of a plain, Gothic-style church with a late-18th century core and later alterations and additions. It includes typical architectural detailing, such as pointed hoodmouldings, angled buttresses and a bellcote. Externally, the building has not been much altered since the major refurbishment by Robert Lorimer in 1899.

Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer (1864-1929) was one of the foremost Scottish architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was one of the promoters of the Arts and Crafts style in Scotland and is known particularly for his building and restoration of country houses, including the renovation of nearby Bardrochat House (LB52072) for Robert F McEwan in 1906. McEwen (1861-1926) was an advocate and local landowner who was friends with Lorimer. Through this friendship, Lorimer also did work on the village war memorial in Colmonell.

The Arts and Crafts-style stained glass windows are good quality decorative pieces, designed by some of the most renowned artists of the early-20th century, including Louis Davis (1860-1941) and Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). The interior fixtures and fittings, in particular the organ, organ casework and the panelled chancel, are good, well-detailed examples of Robert Lorimer's craft, but they are not rare or outstanding examples of his work.


The church and churchyard are in a prominent roadside position along Manse Road at the western end of the village of Colmonell. The site retains its historic setting, including its intervisibility with the manse nearby (listed separately at category C, LB49938). The church is included in a conservation area, alongside much of the village, which appears to largely retain its traditional built character.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

Churches of this date are not rare. A large number of churches were built during the late-18th century, many of which have had significant periods of remodelling during the 19th and early-20th centuries, as such, these building types are not uncommon.

When considering such a prolific building type an early date, the fewer of its type that survive, and architectural design are important considerations when considering a building is of special interest. The church and churchyard at Colmonell are considered to be major examples of their building type, typically showing a succession of alterations and additions dating from the mid and later 19th century. This group of buildings compares well to other listed village churches of the same date and with similar later alterations across Ayrshire and Scotland more widely.

Listed building record revised in 2023.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

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