Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
East Ayrshire
Planning Authority
East Ayrshire
NS 42042 45918
242042, 645918


Dated 1841. Symmetrical, 2-storey, 3-bay rectangular-plan church with 3-stage steeple over entrance bay to S. Tooled, squared and coursed sandstone to S, rubble to other elevations. Base course, band course, cornice and blocking course. Some raised cills. Later single storey extensions to rear.

SOUTH (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: slightly advanced central pedimented entrance bay with 2-leaf, 6-panel timber entrance doors with rectangular fanlight above and consoled cornice above. Steeple with clasping Doric pilasters and round-arched louvred openings to 1st stage. Clock stage above. Finialled stone spire.

INTERIOR: cohesive interior scheme with panelled timber gallery on 3 sides supported by slender cast iron columns. Timber pews. Pair of symmetrical, decoratively carved flanking curved staircases lead to carved timber pulpit with organ case behind.

Shallow piended roof with grey slates. Predominantly diamond leaded-pane windows with coloured glass decorative borders and images.

Statement of Special Interest

Place of worship in use as such. An important part of the streetscape in the main thoroughfare of Stewarton, the church is built in a simple Classical style and is little altered externally. The interior remains substantially intact with a dominant, finely carved pulpit. The church has an interesting ecclesiastical history which is of significance both for the town and wider church history in Scotland in the mid 19th century.

The church opened as a Church of Scotland church in 1842. In 1843, it became a Free Church when the Minister, Rev David Arthur, walked out of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland began in the event known as The Disruption. In 1900, the church was called John Knox United Free Church and in 1929 it became Church of Scotland again. Thomas Cassels, who was the minister from 1894-1903 began a project to build a hall and installed the pipe organ.

The history of the church dates back to the late 18th century when small groups of people started leaving the established Church all over Scotland. One group from Stewarton, called the Auld Lichts, went to Kilmarnock for their service. After 1814, the Kilmarnock minister did not make them welcome, and they formed their own congregation back in Stewarton and met in a weaver's shop in the High Street. In 1825, the minister of this group, Rev James Duncan built a New Church at top of Avenue Street in 1828. Arguments within the church meant that by 1839, the congregation were looking for a new building. The local landowner, William Cunningham was not keen to have another church built on his land, but this piece of ground was owned by a Mr Snodgrass, and the land was acquired and the church built in 1841.

William Cunningham then used his influence as the major landowner in the area to prevent a newly appointed minister from Irvine from coming to Stewarton. A legal battle ensued and the result, in favour of William Cunningham, meant that this and other new congregations throughout the country lost their buildings. Cunningham asserted that the John Knox Church belonged to the Established Church and tried to deprive the congregation of their properties. This 'Stewarton Case' has been cited in some sources as being one of the factors which led to the Disruption in the Church in 1843. Eventually, the congregation were given the legal ownership of the Kirk.

List description updated as part of Stewarton Burgh resurvey, 2009.



1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map 1854-9. Rev S Hussein, The 175 Years of John Knox Church, from website (accessed 24-07-08). Information from (accessed on 24-07-08).

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


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Printed: 27/03/2019 01:21