Alloway Church, Ayrshire

Captain Francis Grose was one of the first systematic recorders of architectural and archaeological remains in Britain. His six volume Antiquities of England and Wales published between 1773 and 1787, was followed by Antiquities of Scotland in two volumes published in 1789 and 1791. Robert Burns met him while he was undertaking the latter, and became a friend – writing three pieces about him including On Captain Grose’s Peregrinations through Scotland. This is a plate from Antiquities of Scotland showing Alloway Kirk.   Grose included Alloway Church in his book at the insistance of his friend Robert Burns, agreeing to include it on the condition that Burns would write a poem to accompany it in his book.  The poem that Robert Burns wrote which appears in 'The Antiquities of Scotland', was to become his best known: Tam O'Shanter.   "This church stands by the river, a small distance from the bridge of Doon, on the road leading from Maybole to Ayr.  About a century ago it was united to the parish of Ayr; since which time it has fallen to ruins.  It is one of the eldest parishes in Scotland, and still retains these priviledges: the minister of Ayr is obliged to marry and baptise in it, and also here to hold his parochial catechisings.  The magistrates attempted, some time ago, to take away the bell; but were repulsed by the Alloites."   "This church is also famous for being the place wherein the witches and warlocks used to hold their infernal meetings, or sabbaths, and prepare their magical unctions:  here too they used to amuse themselves with dancing to the pipes of the muckle-horned Deel.  Diverse stories of these horrid rites are still current; one of which my worthy friend Mr. Burns has here favoured me with in verse."  (The poem 'Tam O'Shanter' follows this introduction by Grose.)
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Francis Grose (1831-91)
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East Ayrshire Council
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