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Church history

Church history

The Church was first mentioned in 1226 in a Charter of Maldoven, Third Earl of Lennox, which granted the Bishop of Glasgow “the Church of Cardinros, with lands, tiends, fishings and pertinents of every kind, in pure and perpetual alms, to be devoted to the use of the Bishop’s table.”

From the beginning of the 14th century it was a prebend for the support of a canon of Glasgow Cathedral.

In 1322 King Robert the Bruce lived in a hunting lodge in Cardross parish until his death on 7th June 1329. His body was then brought to the medieval Church - an event commemorated by a memorial stone dedicated on 1st September 2001. Thereafter his body was buried in Dunfermline Abbey and his heart - after being taken by Sir James Douglas on an abortive crusade - was finally buried in Melrose Abbey.

A new Church was built in 1644 some three miles west of the medieval site in the growing ferry community of Cardross. It was replaced with a Church with a handsome square tower built on the same site and opened for worship on the last Sunday of April 1827.

On the night of 5th May 1941, the Church was one of a number of buildings destroyed by heavy bombing, when for some reason Cardross was the main target of the Luftwaffe, the following night Greenock across the River Clyde became the target and very serious damage was done. After the war the tower was retained as a War Memorial, and the building in Station Road - opened in January 1872 as a Free Church - was adapted for use as the present Cardross Parish Church.

As a Millennium project, the old Church tower was completely restored and at a Service held on 10th October 1999 was rededicated “to the glory of God, as witness to past faith and future hope.”

The Bells

Cardross Parish Church was built in 1872, and shortly after that a set of 5 bells were added to the bell tower. In 1914, a sixth bell was added, which meant that many more tunes could be played. Finally, as part of the Church's millennium project, a seventh, and eight bell were added, meaning that a full octave could be played for the first time. Also, for the millennium, a special piece of music was composed for the bell ringer to play at the stroke of midnight, bringing in the millennium. This piece of music was composed by Iain Cassells, the chief bell ringer of St John's Kirk Perth.

The 'Millennium Peal' has three movements, each lasting around five minutes. This incredible, and difficult piece is played every New Year by the bell ringer, and it is also played on special occasions.

Church Interior

Note on Silk Hangings by Sarah Sumsion

"There is a virtue in the use of traditional ecclesiastical colours, provided that they are interpreted in terms of mood rather than conformity to a rigid system of rules."

The two outer hangings, being pale in colour, convey humility, peace and serenity. The two inner hangings are stronger in colour. In the one violet signifies love and truth, blue heavenly love, and purple God the Father. In the other vermilion signifies the Holy Spirit, violet love and truth, and brown the earth and the universe.

The central panel combines all these elements in one whole, the shapes standing for the church fitting all together into a unity.

"You too, are built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, the cornerstone being Christ Jesus himself. He is the one who holds the whole building together and makes it grow into a sacred temple dedicated to the Lord. In union with him you too are being built together with all the others into a place where God lives through his Spirit." (Ephesians 2.20-22)

The Construction was influenced by the architectural details within the church. The organ pipes gave the idea of the vertical lines within the weaving, and the arches above are echoed in the angles of the supporting construction.

The Cardross Gospel Windows

"A man that looks on glass, on it may stay his eye; or if he pleaseth, through it pass, and then the heaven espy."

The windows are in memory of the late Miss Elizabeth C Hendry of Geilston House whose quiet generosity and constant concern for the good of the Church and community are remembered with great gratitude. They are the work of John Lawrie DA, formerly head of the Department of Glass Design at Edinburgh College of Art.

An unusual description of the Gospels initially caught the imagination of the artist and suggested the theme of the windows: " They are marvelously joined together, intertwined with coincidences and differences, wing interwoven with wing and wheel interwoven with wheel; they sweep from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven and fly with lightning speed with the noise of many waters." Much of this symbolism is included in the windows, which represent the Gospels both in terms of God coming down to earth and of our being lifted up to heaven.

Miss Hendry loved the garden and burn and wood at Geilston and had expressed the thought that it would be a joy to look from the Church to the trees and birds and world around us. Now that is possible since the artist has used clear plate glass, with the designs etched into the glass, incorporating symbolism appropriate to the four Gospels which are represented as rivers of salvation. In each of the windows descending water shows the nourishing effect of the gospel, coming down into life, while cherubim like wings suggest the power of the gospel to lift up to heaven.

The Matthew window emphasises the humanity of Christ, with the dove representing the baptism of Christ and the life-giving waters nourishing the vine of life growing to fruit. The roots of the tree are freely translated from the Celtic pattern and complement the movement of the wings. The shape of the hill echoes the embroidered panels.

In Mark the emphasis is on community. The waters cascade from a wheel to the book and on to the community, where the Church is central and the houses are linked to the Church by their paths. The rural surroundings are shown in the symbolic fields round the village.

The Luke window shows the sacrificial work of Christ. The top section, visible only from outside, includes the almond shaped "vesica piscis." And in the lower section there is a "troubled" cross and the fish representing Christ as Son of God and Saviour. The descending water becomes a stream below the fish, again with a hint of Celtic forms.

In the John window an eagle is rising towards the sun- again only visible from outside. The wings are in free flight, and the descending waters merge into the ribbon of eternal life, which again uses Celtic style patterns and suggests the fullness of life.

Variations in depth of cut give light and shade, and particularly in the wings and the grapes highlights are provided by unusual cutting of the glass. With sparkling clarity the windows allow the light of the Gospel to shine on us. And they also allow us to look at the world around us and to see it more clearly as the world for which Christ gave himself and which he has redeemed.

The Cardross Church Embroidered Panels

The gift of Elizabeth C Hendry, in memory of her sister Lorna Hendry. Were made by Hannah Frew Paterson and dedicated on Sunday 27th September 1981.

The whole work has been designed with the shape of the hill providing a setting for the Cross, and each of the panels showing the development of life from its origins to fulfillment.

The left hand panel, with a day time sky and a scene suggesting the view inland from Cardross, shows in the lower section soil, roots, bulbs and seeds, and then a wide variety of flowers and fruit and leaves and trees which have biblical and symbolic significance. Above is the impression of a garden and wild flowers; and on the top of the hill colours representing the seasons and a Cedar of Lebanon.

The right hand panel has a night sky and the view across the river from Cardross - the long shoreline being layered, with the most westerly part above and the most easterly below. The lower sections show the mineral resources beneath the Earth, with the structures of various rocks, precious stones and metal ores. Above are fossils indicating animal and fish life through the centuries, and a hillside outcropping rock.

In the centre panel there is a golden glow behind the Cross and a golden circle edged by a rainbow. The lower sections are composed of patterns of muscle, bone and parts of the body, and the discs represent the stages of development of human life from a cell to a baby. Above the Cardross motto "Not we but God" is the family unit, with four main figures and others bringing the number to twelve - the number of apostles and the symbol of the entire church. Above this is the impression of a crowd, indicating all mankind gathered under the Cross. The inclusion of local scenes and the representation of the whole range of creation shows how the Cross belongs in the real world; while the focus on the summit of the hill, the aura of the Cross of glory and the golden circle of eternity symbolise the hope and fulfillment of life in God. The descending dove - symbol of the Holy Spirit - on the pulpit is modeled on the dove of the Taizé Community, providing a link with one of the most vital movements of the Spirit today.

The Cardross Panels

A note by the Artist

I wanted to concentrate the focus on the summit of the hill, symbolising Man's struggle to attain the highest qualities of life. This became simplified into a golden circle, surrounding the Cross and enclosing crowds of people moving upwards under the arms of the Cross. It was essential to design terms to accentuate an upward movement, thus the colour gradations in the sky section, radiating from the circle, became perpendicular bands of colour towards the outer edge. The sub-division of the hill was controlled into graded intervals, not only to continue the upward movement but also in practical terms to enable the embroidery to be carried out more easily in workable section,

My principal objective was to create a design, which would read from a distance as a simple hill shape, surrounded by a golden circle and have a strong background under a strong simple sky. Even more important to me was the need to create a textural, textile surface that would read in detail at close quarters without detracting from the main lines of the composition. In the course of the work members of the congregation were invited to contribute pieces of fabric. These were mainly used in the mineral section, and they provided a further link with the local community - an idea that was a prominent feature of the design.

Although the embroidered panels took me two years and three months to complete, the work was never boring, but remained a challenge until the last stitch. This was mainly because each section produced a new problem to be studied and approached afresh, both in technique and materials. My knowledge of embroidery methods and the various materials, new and traditional, which could be adapted and treated in new ways has increased tremendously.

Daily bible verse

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

—1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV)

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Our minister

Our minister is the Reverend Margaret McArthur.

You can call her on 01389 849329

Email her: Minister