The following piece on the history of Bannockburn Ladywell Church was taken from the words of Andrew Meldrum Snr, who was an elder at Ladywell for over 50 years. His daughter Mary Carroll has given her permission for us to use his text.
Church Of Scotland Bannockburn : Ladywell : Year 2000
by Andrew Meldrum Snr
I was asked to write something about our church in the Year 2000, and I begin with the reason that the church originated. It was due to the upheaval, or Disruption, in the year 1843. There had been a lot of disagreements going on for years, because in the year 1712 the State had passed as Act called ‘The Patronage Act’ which allowed local lairds to choose who should be the minister of the church. In other words, the congregation had no say in who preached to them.
This ruling often caused deep unhappiness because the local kirk members felt that they had the right to say who presided over their worship. However, things grew worse between the State and the General Assembly until 1842 when the Assembly drew up a ‘Claim of Right’, saying that it did not want want the work of the church interfered with by the State. Jesus Christ, it said , was the head of the church,… not the Government.
At the opening of the General Assembly in 1843 the retiring Moderator read out a prepared protest, bowed to the Queen’s Commissioner, and walked out, … followed by 200 other ministers and elders. They immediately processed to the Tamfield Hall where they declared the establishment of the Free Church of Scotland. The minister of the Tron Kirk in Glasgow, Thomas Chalmers, was elected as the first Moderator.
The Rev. John Harper was the minister of the church in Bannockburn and was one of the ministers who walker out of the General Assembly that day. On returning to Bannockburn, he reported to his Kirk Session that he had seperated himself from the ‘Established Church’ and had given adherence to the Free Church of Scotland. In this, he was supported by the Session, and practically the whole congregation.
As the building that they worshipped in (now the Allan Church) did not belong to them under civil law, they had to provide another house for the worship of God. Led by the minister, the Kirk Session and part of the congregation marched out of the church and along Main Street to the Academy singing ‘I To The Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes’. They were there until the 25th April 1849, when the Deacon’s Court decided to erect another church. A committee of 14 was formed,… 7 from the Deacon’s Court, and 7 from the congregation. Mr Harper wa sappointed Convener of the committee. Mr Alexander Geddes was Secretary and Treasurer, while Mr Harley of Dunfermline was the Architect.
It is intereresting to note that the cost of erecting the church was £1450. A large proportion of this sum was raised by the congregation, with help from Messrs William and John Wilson, Miss Janet Wilson and Mr Alex Wislon who were the principal subscribers.
On the opening day a special thanksgiving offering was taken which amounted to £80-10s, and that from a membership of 237. The church was opened for public worship on the 17th March 1850. It was not until the year 1853 that the church, as we now know it, was completed with the tower being raised and the bell and clocks being put in. The tower and bell cost £266, while the clocks cost £110.
The Name of the church changed…………
1850 Free Church
1878-1898 Free Chruch : Bannockburn
1899-1900 Bannockburn Free Church
1900-1929 United Free Church of Scotland
1929- Rejoined Established Church to become
Church of Scotland, Ladywell, Bannockburn
The names of the ministers and their dates……..
William R Clarke 1927-1931
James Winchester 1931-1935
Norman Birnie 1936-1942
Alexander Paterson 1945-1953
James McLachlan 1953-1960
Thomas Kinloch 1961-1978
Charles McMillan 1978-1991
Iain McDonald 1992-1996
Elizabeth Robertson 1997-Present
When the Rev Norman Birnie left the church in 1942, during the war, we were left without a minister for three years. However, groups of faithful members decided to carry on regardless.They were a little hampered because the British Army soldiers were billeted in the halls, and fire had broken out in the church. This caused the congregation to worship, for a time, in Bannockburn School. In September 1941 the church was again opened.
Being without a minster for three years, the congregation asked for permission to call another minister. This was granted and in 1945 Rev Alexander Paterson was inducted. Mr and Mrs Paterson did a lot for the church until his death in 1953.
We then had Rev James McLachlan and it was during his time that a new housing area, called Hillpark, was being built. The Stirling and Dunblane Presbytery asked if Ladywell would take on this new area, which they duly did.
The foundation stone was laid on 27th June 1956 by Miss A.E.T.R. Mitchell of Bannockburn House. The church called Bannockburn : Ladywell was opened for worship on Friday 14th June 1957. There have been many extensions since then.