The Revd Colin McNaughton, the minister in the 1870s, thought the village needed a bigger building than the former Killearn kirk, now the Village Hall. The congregation was growing, as more families from Glasgow, especially in the summer, were spending time in the neighbourhood. This was as a result of the arrival of the railway at Dumgoyne in 1865. He persuaded Archibald Orr Ewing, who had built Ballikinrain Castle (on the road to Fintry), to pay for it. Mr Orr Ewing owned a large textile company in the Vale of Leven. It was famous for fabrics produced using Turkey red dye. He did not believe in spending money on building insurance and said that if he had no factory fires for three years, he would use the money saved to build a new kirk.
Before this happened, Ella Lindsay, one of his daughters, died, aged 16, in 1878. He then gave to the village a rather grander building than he had originally planned as a memorial to her. It was designed by John Bryce, the nephew of David Bryce, who had designed Ballikinrain Castle for Orr Ewing; John continued David’s architectural practice after David died in 1876. It is a distinctive Victorian Gothic building in an Early English style with a prominent spire around 30 metres tall. It was designed to accommodate over 550 people and cost around £7,000 to build.
Within 40 years, however, major structural problems emerged, including dry rot and decaying stonework and plasterwork. There was even discussion about whether the building should be demolished but it was decided to undertake repairs instead.
In 1967, the Session House was added. In 2002, at the back of the building, the Kirk Hall was added to replace the Church Hall (the former Free Church building). The new hall won the 2003 Stirling Civic Trust Award for a scheme of conservation or conversion.
There are a number of distinctive features within Killearn Kirk. Most notable is the white marble baptismal basin held by a kneeling angel, a memorial to Ella Orr Ewing, designed by John Rhind. The circular window above the communion table contains a portrait of Ella Orr Ewing at the centre surrounded by a ring of angels. It was made by the prominent Edinburgh firm of James Ballantine and Son. The communion table, pulpit, choir stalls and lectern were given in 1926 by Sir Norman Orr Ewing in memory of Ernest, his brother, who was killed in the First World War. They were designed by Alexander Lorne Campbell. The organ was installed in 1936.
There are also four modern stained-glass windows of great quality. In the Session House there are two windows by Sadie McLellan, a distinguished Scottish stained-glass artist from the second half of the 20th century. The windows were installed in 1969, each window containing representations of two archangels. They were donated by the Killearn Trust. On the north wall of the main building are two windows by Thomas Denny. They were his first commissions, donated in memory of Thomas Downie in 1983. They represent St Columba and St Kentigerna. Thomas Denny has since designed windows for many church buildings, including four cathedrals in England. There are illustrations of these windows on the Killearn Kirk website here.
For more about the history of the Kirk in Killearn, visit the Kirk’s website. In addition, there are two Killearn Courier articles. One looks at the history of the Kirk (opens pdf, 3MB) and one at the Kirk’s windows (opens pdf, 6MB).