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Alloway Auld Kirk

Welcome to Alloway Auld Kirk, built in the 1500’s on the foundations of another building dating back to the thirteen century.   The belfry was built 4 years after the church was completed.  A 100 years later, the council decided to take the belfry down but resistance from residents made them change their mind.  The Auld Kirk is surrounded by a graveyard  but whilst the church was in use you were not allowed to be buried here. By the 1740’s the church was also used as a school but by the mid 1700’s the Kirk was deserted and fell into disrepair. This empty ruin became ‘Alloway’s Auld Haunted Kirk’ in the mind of young Robert Burns and later became the central setting for his famous poem Tam o’ Shanter.  There are 219 ancient headstones in the kirkyard, the oldest dating from 1690. The most well known is of course  that of Robert’s father, William Burns.

Sandy McInstosh, one of the Museum’s volunteers has devoted a significant amount of time to study and record every single headstone in the kirkyard and his graveyard guided tours are very popular.

Here is the first of a series of these interesting videos in which Sandy is interviewed by Hugh Farrell about his graveyard project. Our immense gratitude to Helen (also a volunteer) and Robert Beck from BeckSport for producing this high quality video.

 

Story of the Founders of National Trust for Scotland

The history of the National Trust for Scotland was to the fore when Mrs Caroline Borwick gave an interesting talk on founder members of the NTS at the weekly Wednesday Highlight Talks at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. Her father Sir Jamie Stormont Darling was one of a quartet of men dedicated to the continued existence and development of the Trust for the benefit of the people of Scotland during the difficult post-war period. As a group, he and Sir John Stirling Maxwell, the Marquess of Bute and lawyer George Russell, clocked up a total of over 90 years of service to ensure the Trust survived on a secure footing.

Caroline illustrated her talk with some fascinating photos from the forties, fifties and sixties. Included was one of the first ceremonies of the handover of a property to the NTS in 1944: the House of the Binns with a kilted, teenage Tam Dalziel in the background. Also acquired during her father’s tenure as Secretary and Director from 1949 to 1983 were 5.6. & 7 Charlotte Square (Edinburgh), Canna, Iona, St Kilda, Inverewe and Staffa.

Postcard by Caroline Borwick

This postcard was drawn by Caroline Borwick in 2018 in memory of her father Sir Jamie Stormont Darling. It represents Canna, Iona, St Ilda, Interewe and Staffa.

 

Alison Wilson

 

Updated news from the Friends

As you know the Friends of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum aim to support the museum and its staff in every way possible, principally by fundraising for projects.  So far this year, we have donated £17,500 for the Burns Cottage renovations currently underway.

At the Burns Day at the museum on Saturday 25th January Maureen Bryceland and her team raised £327 by a Tombola and they want to thank all who donated gifts and bought tickets.

The next event will be a special stall at the Doonfoot Co-Op shop on Friday 28 February from 11am till 3.30pm.  We have been selected as one of three local charities to be sponsored by Co-Op members this year. The stall will display some of the craft production the volunteers already engage in to show the kind of work farming people would have done in a modest cottage at the time of Robert Burns. It is hoped that funds from the Co-Op scheme will purchase spinning wheels and associated materials to interest and involve both locals and visitors. Everyone is invited to come along, join in activities like weaving and rag-rug making, and find out how to contribute to the scheme.

Looking ahead, big band That Swing Sensation will perform their fabulous dance music at the museum on Saturday 27 June. Last year’s show was truly sensational so tickets are sure to go fast this year. They will be on sale shortly, price £15.

The last major fundraising event of the year will be our annual Quiz Night on Friday 2 October. As before it will be masterminded by volunteer Tom Collins.

Watch this space for news of the re-opening for the season of our Garden Shop in Monument Gardens at Easter.  Trip Advisor rated this shop as “adorable” so do drop by and see for yourself.

The Friends of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum aim to support the museum and its staff in every way possible, principally by fundraising for projects.  So far, they have donated £17,500 for the Burns Cottage renovations currently underway.

At the Burns Day at the museum on Saturday 25th January Maureen Bryceland and her team raised £327 by a Tombola and they want to thank all who donated gifts and bought tickets.

The next event will be a special stall at the Doonfoot CO-OP shop on Friday 28 February from 11am till 3.30pm.  The Friends have been selected as one of three local charities to be sponsored by CO-OP members this year. The stall will display some of the craft production the volunteers already engage in to show the kind of work farming people would have done in a modest cottage at the time of Robert Burns. It is hoped that funds from the CO-OP scheme will purchase spinning wheels and associated materials to interest and involve both locals and visitors. Everyone is invited to come along, join in activities like weaving and rag-rug making, and find out how to contribute to the scheme.

Looking ahead, big band That Swing Sensation will perform their fabulous dance music at the museum on Saturday 27 June. Last year’s show was truly sensational so tickets are sure to go fast this year. They will be on sale shortly, price £15.

The last major fundraising event of the year will be our annual Quiz Night on Friday 2 October. As before it will be masterminded by volunteer Tom Collins.

Watch this space for news of the re-opening for the season of our Garden Shop in Monument Gardens at Easter.  Trip Advisor rated this shop as “adorable” so do drop by and see for yourself.

Alison Wilson

Highlight Talk: ‘The Founders of the National Trust for Scotland Pre and Post WW2’

Next Wednesday 26th February, Caroline Borwick delivers a very interesting talk on ‘The Founders of the National Trust for Scotland Pre and Post WW2’. The NTS is Scotland’s foremost charity caring for our unique Natural and Built Heritage. Who were the visionary, philanthropic and determined men who established and ensured the survival of the treasures of the Nation we all hold dear?

Caroline Borwick was the chatelaine of Blair Castle in Dalry and until recently a National Trust for Scotland trustee. She is the daughter of the late director of NTS Sir Jamie Stormonth Darling,

The Highlight Talks, chaired by Melvyn  Gibson (Volunteer), take place at 3pm on Wednesday (June – September) in the Museum building and are FREE to attend.