Tour of the Building
Reproduced with the kind permission of the late Walter Crichton Written in the early 1970’s
Here we are at the entrance to our beautiful church, built of Auchenheath stone on ground gifted by Sir John Stirling Maxwell of Pollock. So in we go, exchange ‘Good mornings’ with the office-bearers on duty and proceed to our pews. But just a minute… have we not missed something? Indeed we have.
Those stands for the offerings merit more than a passing glance. They are of unique design and are made of heavy black oak originally part of Glasgow Bridge which was taken down in 1345, so the wood is probably well over seven hundred years old. Along with several other items they were given by Mr James Ogilvie, of whom more later.
The Flower Fund box, an anonymous gift in light oak was made by ex-servicemen at the Lord Roberts Workshops in Dundee.
And there is that little window. It is by Mrs Nina Miller Davidson, who greatly influenced the establishment of Eaglesham as a conservation village. Doesn’t it remind you of something? Yes – it is based on the famous painting “The Light of the World” by Holman Hunt and depicts Jesus knocking at the door. He is, as is Merrylea, standing on the mound and His “I am the Way” surmounts the picture. Together these themes represent the opening of worship under the leadership of the Rev. Julius McCallum, whose ministry is commemorated. Other allegories are the corn and the wine, representing the Communion Bread and Wine; while the Phoenix symbolises the replacement of the original “Tin Church” by our present edifice. Not that it was burned, no, no – this is just a little artistic licence.
You should also know that our kirk was designed by the celebrated architect, P. MacGregor Chalmers. It was started in 1914 and was dedicated on 11 September 1915. It was intended that there should be a tower but this has always been too costly to build. And that wee door in the corner of the vestibule would have given access to it.
So now you know! You are moving from the vestibule into the chancel. Up the steps we go – forward – left turn – and a bee-line for “our” pew (they used to carry names of members paying pew rents – but that was a long time ago). STOP! Turn to your right and look up. At what? At the magnificent three light west window.
This multiple window commemorates the Rev Hugh Sutherland who succeed Mr McCallum when Merrylea became an independent Parish Church. He was our minister from 1911 to 1919. We had previously been a Chapel of Ease dependency of Cathcart Old. It also forms the memorial to those members who fell in the First World War. Their names are inscribed on a bronze plaque below the centre panel, which was unveiled on 19 March 1922 by the Rt. Hon Thomas Paxton, Lord Provost of Glasgow. The windows were dedicated by the Very Rev. Dr. Wallace Williamson C.V.O. Dean of the Chapel Royal of the Order of the Thistle. He had laid the foundation stone of the Church in 1914. Do you know where that is? Have a look around for it.
The glass work was carried out by Stephen Adam and although the records do not show the name of the artist experts consider it likely to have been Alec. Walker. The theme is from Matthew 2:20 where we read of the ambitious request of James and John, through their mother, for preferential treatment in Jesus’ kingdom. At the top of each of the outer panels angels adore the enthroned Christ in the centre. Many of Merrylea’s windows have supporting panels. These ones depict the Baptism of Jesus (left); the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (centre); and the Rending of the Tomb (right)
At the top there are some texts in Latin. Of course there is English but we shall find another language in one of our windows. I wonder where?
Having studied the West windows you turn round and the right hand side of the of the building is of course, the South Aisle and Transept. These were completed at a cost of between six and seven thousand pounds and were dedicated on 12 September 1925 by the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rt. Rev. Dr. John White. The four windows in the aisle all relate to the childhood of Jesus and comprise:
The Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:25) Old Simeon takes the infant Jesus in his arms and praises God saying “Now let me Thy servant, depart in peace for I have seen Thy salvation of Israel.” It was presented in memory of William C. Finlay by his widow and family in 1947.
The Flight into Egypt (Matt.2:l3) Joseph and Mary take baby Jesus away to escape jealous Herod’s “Slaughter of the Innocents”. Given in memory of Inez Ritchie (died 24 April 1929) and William Ritchie (killed in action with the RAF on 2 October 1943) by their parents, Mr and Mrs A. Ritchie.
The Boy Jesus (Luke 2:39 and 40) This illustrates our Lord’s apprenticeship in the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth and was in memory of the late Alexander Colville Brown, MC, an elder and Clerk to the Congregational Board. It was given by his family.
Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem (Luke 2 : 46) Like the McCallum memorial window in the vestibule, this was designed by that remarkable lady, Mrs. Nina Miller Davidson. It shows twelve year old Jesus debating with doctors of the law. The three day search by Joseph and Mary is indicated by the starry sky, showing the hour they found Him as the evening. You have seen some Latin and English – here some of the lettering on the scrolls is Hebrew, some is simply stylised artistic licence.
The almond shaped faces of the characters are typical of Mrs. Davidson’s very individual style and the glasswork was executed by Guthrie end Wells Ltd.
The other three windows in this aisle were all done by the St Enoch Class Co.
This window was erected by the Fraser family in memory of their father, Mr. Tom Fraser, their mother and their brother. Mr. Fraser was for many years a member of the Congregational Board
We move along to the South Transept, which is dominated by the windows commemorating the Rev. John Maclagan, DD, our much loved and respected minister from 1919 to 1949. They are by the late Douglas Hamilton whose work can be seen extensively in West Scotland.
The subject of those on the left is that of the Good Shepherd against the background of the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm 23). The right hand pair illustrates the Risen Christ saying three times to Peter “Feed my lambs”. The small panel depicts today’s application of these themes – the work of the pastor at which our minister excelled.
The other supporting panels show the miraculous draught of fish (“I shall make you fishers of men” sums up Dr Maclagan’s work with the Church and Nation Committee of the General Assembly) – the Ark of the Covenant represents the Old and the New Testaments as well as life hereafter (Rev. 11:9), symbolising his ministry – and David with the Sword of Goliath is allegorical of his service as a combatant army officer and of his convenorship of the Committee on Chaplains to H.M. Forces.
The windows are linked by a bronze plaque which carries a most appropriate quotation. It was made by Arch’d Hamilton & Co. and the whole project was approved by the General Assembly’s Committee on Artistic Matters whose convenor was The Rev. Humphrey Hamilton.
The theme for windows in the North Aisle is “.The work and witness of women in the Christian Church.” The first of these lights to be completed is a Virgin and Child by C. Payne, A.R.C.A. executed by Guthrie and Wells Ltd. It was presented in 1922 by the family of Thomas Hill and his wife Jessie Wardrop. It was Mr. Hill’s father who built Merrylea House.
The second window illustrates the story of Mary Magdalen anointing Jesus with precious oil. It was designed by Douglas McLundie, carried out by the City Glass Co. and gifted in 1961 by Mrs. Isabella Watson Hamilton in memory of Mr. and Mrs. William Watson and their daughters Janet, Agnes and Annie, who were founder members of Merrylea.
Moving along to the right we come to the Baptistry where there is a very beautiful little window. The central panel shows another Virgin and Child and the surround carries a Paschal Lamb together with numerous Christian symbols such as chalice, crown of thorns, nails, etc. It was given by Margaret R.P. Small in memory of her husband John small Gemmill and was dedicated on 9 September 1917. It is a reproduction of Raphael’s painting in the Pitti Palace in Florence. The embellishment by such wealth of symbolism suggests Dr. Robert Anning Bell, R.A. as the author.
Below this window is a stone font which also bears many interesting symbols. It was paid for by the children of the Sunday School raising a “Mile of Pennies” and is still used for some of our Baptisms. in our journey round the church we went from the North Aisle to the Baptistry. Just turn left and we find two delightful pairs of windows. These are both the work of John Blyth whose artistry is to be found all over Scotland.
The centre pair are in memory of the Rev Ironside Simpson MC, TD, MA, BD, and are adjacent to the pulpit. Equally appropriate is the main theme of the Sermon on the Mount, referring to the Ministry of the Word. The Lord’s command “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works” was followed by him and surely bids us do the same! The The lower panels relate to Mr Simpson s parish work (the Parable of the Good Samaritan) and his distinguished service as chaplain to H.M. Forces (the Faithful Centurion)
To the left, the Ministry of Service inspired the memorial to the Jessiman family who gave long and unstinting support to Merrylea in a variety of ways. Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and the text “I am among you as He that serveth” were their examples. They loved this House of God so the smaller subjects are the prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple (1 Kings 8) and the joy of King David at worship (‘Psalm 122). This design received particularly warm approval from the Church of Scotland’s-Committee on Artistic Matters.
We have now arrived at the chancel. Did you ever find the Foundation Stone? Well here it is at the base of the left hand column. Marked with a little brass plate, it is in the North-East corner of the building which is the traditional place.
On the floor is a beautiful royal blue carpet bearing the Burning Bush emblem of the Church of Scotland. It was specially woven by Templeton’s for our Golden Jubilee and was dedicated on 7 November 1965 by the Very Rev. Charles L. Warr, KVCO, DL, DD, LD, Dean of the Thistle and Chapel Royal who had preached at a “Coming of Age” celebration in 1936.
At the left you will see an oak font (we are fortunate in having two fonts) which commemorates Miss Muriel Hay. She was a Sunday School leader of distinction and was killed in an air crash in Switzerland.
Nearby is a seat and prayer stool for use by assistant ministers etc. It was given by the family of a former Session Clerk, Mr Fraser Farquharson MBE, Deputy Chief Constable of Glasgow.
A bible given by the Rev Ironside Simpson rests on the lectern which was another gift of Mr James Ogilvie and is made of oak taken from the roof timbers of Glasgow Cathedral (1136A.D.), – more history! Yet again we are indebted to Mr Ogilvie for the little black oak reading stand on the Communion Table. It is made from oak from the Bishop’s Well of 1258A.D. which was near the Cathedral.
And do examine the pulpit. There is a wealth of detail in the carving – look for the Ark and the Triquetra (see the dictionary for what that is!)
Having gone all round the church we are now at the Chancel. Everyone sees it, but do we take time to look at its detail closely? In particular, the three windows are especially beautiful.
The centre light depicts the Crucifixion and was given by Margaret P.Small in memory of her parents, James and Elizabeth Small. Those to the either side were gifted at the same time by Miss Small’s sister in memory of her husband, James Shanks, and feature the Baptism of Jesus and His Ascension. The supporting panels illustrate respectively the Lord’s Supper, the Adoration of the Magi and the Rending of the Tomb.
As with most of the windows there are borders of vine and allegorical symbols – the hand is the Hand of God, the Dove representing the Holy Spirit and there is “The Pelican in her Piety”- also to be seen in the woodwork of the choir screen. This refers to the legend that pelicans pluck open their breasts to provide blood to feed their starving families, in the way that the Lord gave His blood for us all.
These windows were installed in 1916 by Guthrie and Wells
and the design is understood to be Alec Walker.
Well you have now completed your tour. He that hath eyes to see—–.