Skelmorlie Parish Church

M064 Skelmorlie Parish Church

Address: Shore Road, Skelmorlie PA17 5DY
Date: 1892–5
Client: Trustees of Skelmorlie Parish Church
Authorship: Authorship category 2 (Mackintosh and Office) (Mackintosh and Office)

A chapel of ease for residents in the coastal resort village of Skelmorlie opened in 1856. 1 It subsequently became the parish church. Following the induction of the Rev. John Lamond as minister on 18 May 1891, plans for an ambitious rebuilding were set in train, and on 5 January 1892 a meeting of the Trustees and congregation decided to ask John Honeyman to provide ideas for extending the old church or building a new one. 2 John Honeyman & Keppie made a plan and elevation of a proposed extension, as well as a perspective drawing based on a 'former sketch', and these were given to a 'Mr Rankin' (probably Andrew A. Ranken, a trustee and treasurer of the church) 3 later that month. John Honeyman made site visits in March and May, but it was not until February the following year that instructions were received from the Rev. Lamond, 'Rankin' and others 'to have the church measured and obtain tenders'. 4 This no doubt refers to having the architects' design examined by a measurer, or quantity surveyor, prior to the tendering process. Even so, a scheme was not finally decided on until 13 February 1894, after which tenders were accepted on 20 February. 5 When the church opened in October 1895, it was said to have been 'in process of erection during the last two years'. 6

The N. part of the old church survives as a hall. The new church replaces the demolished S. part, and is linked to the hall by an entrance tower containing stairs to the session house. The church is built of pinkish local stone in 13th-century Gothic style, with a mix of lancets and simple geometric tracery. The chancel is expressed externally by its slightly lower roof, and there is an aisle on the E. side only. Inside, nave and aisle are separated by quatrefoil columns. The ambitious architecture reflects the affluence of the parish, as do the rich furnishings. These include an elaborate reredos with carving by John Crawford, and a communion table.

Colour photograph of Skelmorlie Parish Church from W.Colour photograph of Skelmorlie Parish Church from S.W.Colour photgraph of communion table at Skelmorlie Parish ChurchColour photgraph of reredos at Skelmorlie Parish Church

There is good evidence that Honeyman was personally responsible for the design of the church. As well as undertaking site visits at the planning stage, he is named as architect in a contemporary account written by Lamond. 7 He had strong personal links with Skelmorlie, having lived there between 1868 and 1881, and he designed a number of houses in the village, including the manse (1874). 8 He was also the donor of the stained glass in the three small lancets on the W. side of the chancel. 9 There are nevertheless certain features about the building that seem far from Honeyman's relatively orthodox medievalism. One of these is the wrought-iron lamp standard on the steps outside the main entrance. This was possibly included in the payment of £70 12s 10d made to George Adam & Son on 11 January 1896 for 'Wrot iron rails gateways & lamps'. 10 It is so similar to the highly unusual wrought-iron lamp in Mackintosh's perspective drawing of Martyrs Public School, made in the same year, that it seems very likely Mackintosh designed the Skelmorlie lamp too. 11

Colour photograph of wrought iron lamp at Skelmorlie Parish ChurchColour photograph of wrought iron lamp at Skelmorlie Parish ChurchColour photograph of detail of perspective drawing of Martyrs' Public School by Mackintosh, 1896

Other features which may show Mackintosh's hand are the balustrade of the staircase leading to the session house, which has radically simplified Gothic tracery, and the balustrade of the 1899 pulpit steps, which, while unexceptional at first sight, includes Glasgow Style detailing on the newel posts and in the spandrels of the arches.

Colour phorograph of detail of Session house stair at Skelmorlie Parish ChurchColour phorograph of newel post of Session house stair at Skelmorlie Parish ChurchColour photograph of pulpit at Skelmorlie Parish Church

top

Notes:

1: John Lamond, The Book of the Parish Church of Skelmorlie, Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons, 1895, p. 16.

2: Edinburgh, National Archives of Scotland: CH2/328/1, cited in Aonghus MacKechnie, 'C.R.M. on Clydeside?', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 33, Autumn 1982.

3: Glasgow Herald, 16 August 1894, p. 6.

4: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie visit book, GLAHA 53060, p. 32.

5: Aonghus MacKechnie, 'C. R. M. on Clydeside?', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 33, Autumn 1982; The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie job book, GLAHA 53059, p. 214; p. 216.

6: Glasgow Herald, 11 October 1895, p. 10.

7: John Lamond, The Book of the Parish Church of Skelmorlie, Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons, 1895, p. 28.

8: Rob Close and Anne Riches, Buildings of Scotland: Ayrshire and Arran, New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2012, p. 613.

9: John Lamond, The Book of the Parish Church of Skelmorlie, Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons, 1895, p. 28.

10: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie job book, GLAHA 53059, p. 217.

11: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 52585 (M105-014).