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Celtic Cross Memorial to Burial Ground, Coodham Estate

A Category B Listed Building in Kyle, South Ayrshire

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Latitude: 55.5636 / 55°33'48"N

Longitude: -4.5451 / 4°32'42"W

OS Eastings: 239597

OS Northings: 632932

OS Grid: NS395329

Mapcode National: GBR 3D.QKW5

Mapcode Global: WH3QH.4FY6

Plus Code: 9C7QHF73+CX

Entry Name: Celtic Cross Memorial to Burial Ground, Coodham Estate

Listing Name: Lych Gate, Burial Ground, including Celtic Cross Memorial and Boundary Wall, Coodham Estate, Symington, South Ayrshire

Listing Date: 9 July 2019

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407191

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52513

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Symington (S Ayrshire)

County: South Ayrshire

Electoral Ward: Kyle

Parish: Symington (S Ayrshire)

Traditional County: Ayrshire


A gothic style lych gate and private burial ground dating from 1880, which contains a carved stone Celtic cross memorial and various grave markers all surrounded by a low red sandstone ashlar coped and rock-faced boundary wall. The burial ground is a truncated T-plan and is located within the policies of Coodham Estate, to the north of the ornamental lake.

The entrance (to the southwest elevation) is through a gothic oak lych gate, which is decorated with carved timber detailing and is supported on a base of ashlar red sandstone. The outer corner posts (one of which has collapsed, 2018) have timber buttresses on matching sandstone footings. The steeply pitched roof is covered with timber shingles and has decorative carvings to the eaves and ridge-board. The bargeboards are cusped with trefoil openings inset. The side elevations have four openings with carved timber Gothic tracery (collapsed to southeast elevation, 2018). The inner elevations incorporate bench seats into the stone bases. There are matching timber gates to the entrance with decorative wrought iron work.

The pointed-arch roof trusses to the gabled elevations are inscribed 'THROUGH THE GRAVE / AND GATE OF DEATH / WE PASS TO OUR / JOYFUL RESURRECTION' (one has collapsed, 2019). The inner northwest elevation has a mounted plaque that is inscribed 'THIS CEMETERY WAS / CONSECRATED BY THE BISHOP / OF GLASGOW AND GALLOWAY / JULY 1ST 1880'.

The burial ground contains a number of grave makers which date from 1880 to the early 21st century. A carved Celtic cross memorial of red sandstone ashlar, dated '1880', and on stepped plinth is located to the centre.

Historical development

Following the death of his second son Walter through a drowning accident in June 1880, Sir William Henry Houldsworth (Lancashire cotton mill owner and MP for Manchester) laid out the family burial ground. First shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed 1895), the burial ground was consecrated by the Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway on 1st July 1880. The oak lych gate and the Celtic cross were also constructed in 1880. The burial ground remains in the ownership of the Trustees of the Houldsworth family and remained in use throughout the 20th century, with the most recent gravemarker dating to 2011.

Statement of Interest

Lych Gate, Burial Ground, including the Celtic Cross Memorial and the Boundary Wall, Coodham Estate, meets the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for the following reasons:

Architectural interest


The design of the burial ground at Coodham reflects the wealth and status of the estate and the family during the late 19th century. This is particularly evident in the scale of the site, the materials used and in the level of detailing.

Family burial plots on private estates were typically built with a perimeter of either iron railings, or dressed or rubble stonework. The walls that enclose the burial ground at Coodham are therefore typical for the type and period. They are constructed of red sandstone, which is a locally available material that has a long tradition of use in South Ayrshire.

Celtic crosses were a popular style for monuments built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and became ubiquitous for war memorials after the First World War. The interest in Celtic designs were based on Pictish and later medieval models, such as Maclean's Cross, Iona (SM90173) and Rodney's Stone (SM1226) near Brodie Castle and were popularised during the period of new research and interest in Scotland's medieval history. The Celtic cross at Coodham burial ground is well-detailed with intricate decoration and is a good example of a late 19th century memorial cross.

Usually associated with Anglican churchyards in England, lych gates are a rare feature in Scotland (see Age and Rarity). Originating from medieval England, they experienced a revival across Britain during the late Victorian era and as part of the Arts and Crafts Movement during the early 20th century. The majority of the designated lych gates form part of the listing of an associated church, and are relatively plain in terms of their overall design and decoration.

Designed in a gothic style and enriched with decorative carving and wrought ironwork, the oak lych gate along with the Celtic cross are the most prominent architectural features of the burial ground at Coodham. The lych gate reflects Houldsworth's personal religious belief, which was Anglo-Catholic (or High-Church), a doctrinal strand of the Church of England. Due to the high level of detailing, this example is of particular interest in terms of its design.

The truncated T-shaped plan form of the burial ground, along with the position of the Celtic cross and the lych gate, has remained unchanged from that shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed 1895). The only exception is the loss of the axial central pathway, which originally led from the lych gate to the memorial cross. The layout is not unusual for private burial enclosure of the late 19th century.

The completeness of the burial ground is well-retained and the, lack of alteration adds to its interest in listing terms.


Set within a secluded location in the policies of the former Coodham Estate, the burial ground lies to the northeast of Coodham House, on the opposite side of the ornamental lake. First shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed 1895), the immediate setting of the burial ground has remained largely unchanged since the late 19th century.

The burial ground is one of a number of estate related structures within the wider setting of the category A-listed Coodham House (LB14368). The other listed buildings are the Stables (LB19692) to the southeast and the East Lodge with Gatepiers and Gates (LB14369). The retention of the main house, its ancillary structures and the wider estate landscape makes an important contribution to our understanding of both the function and historical context of the burial ground.

Historic maps show that there was never a visual connection between the burial ground and the main house across the lake, due to the density of the woodland planting. Modern maps show that the circular lakeside path, from which the burial ground is accessed, was partially blocked off following the redevelopment works during the early 21st century. This has had some impact on the physical connection between the burial ground and the wider estate, particularly the associated chapel, but the effect is fairly minimal.

Historic interest

Age and rarity

A private family burial ground or mausoleum located within the policies of an estate, was a feature that was adopted by major landowners in the 18th and 19th centuries. It provided an alternative to the tradition of having a private burial plot or vault situated within the grounds of the local churchyard. It was a fashionable feature reserved for the wealthy elite and endured until the mid 20th century, when many major country houses and estates fell into decline following the First World War.

Surviving private burial grounds on country estates are not rare. Those that are early or notable examples of their type, that survive with their historic features intact, are less common and may be of special interest in listing terms.

The family burial ground at Coodham dates from 1880 and cannot therefore be considered an early example of its type. It is however notable, as the highly decorative gothic lych gate is an unusual feature that sets the burial ground apart from other examples.

Lych gates are very rare within Scotland, both in terms of public and private burial sites.

Revivalist Celtic crosses are common memorial features that were popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and can be found across Scotland.

Social historical interest

As a family burial ground within a former estate the site has social historical interest for the local area and for the relatives of those buried there. The scale and design of the burial ground reflects the status and aspirations of the Houldsworth family, who were industrialist landowners and prominent figures, both within South Ayrshire and in their native Manchester. The burial ground contributes to our understanding of how major country estates operated during the latter 19th century.

Association with people or events of national importance

There is no association of national importance related to this site.

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