Stenhouse and Carron Church

The church, formerly known as the McLaren Memorial Church, was built by subscription between 1897 and 1899, to celebrate the Rev. John McLaren’s 50 years as minister of the joint parishes of Larbert and Dunipace. This is a Grade A listed building with both the interior and exterior of national importance. It was built on part of the old Stenhouse Estate, on ground freely given by the then owner, George Sherriff of Stenhouse and Carronvale. The design of the building was commissioned from architect John James Burnet (1857-1938) of St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, and the cost was eventually to be more than £6000. The architect used a pioneering design of smaller and therefore cheaper-to-build churches, which had begun with St Molios Church, Arran, in 1886. The design influences in this church include early Gothic, Romanesque and Arts and Crafts, and according to The Buildings of Scotland” (Gifford & Arneil Walker 2002): the interior…was in full accordance with ‘ecclesiological’ principles, the chancel entrance marked by a rood beam and flanked by the pulpit and font, the chancel itself containing choir stalls and a centrally placed communion table, the organ sited in a chamber at the E end of the aisle.

The church hall, session house and vestry were built at the same time, but the manse, also designed by Burnet, was an addition in 1906 at a cost of about £2000. The only feature breaking the long lines of the church and hall roofs is the square tower, with its abrupt tile roof, which can be seen for many miles around. Seating (originally for about 800 persons) is accommodated within the nave 110 feet long by 25 feet, a south aisle 60 feet long by 23 feet, and in the gallery in the tower at the west. The building is harled with red ashlar dressings (the red sandstone from the south of Scotland), and roofed with red rosemary tiles.

An original fixture from 1900, is the silvered-bronze font by Albert Hemstock Hodge (1875-1918), a native of Islay. The pipe organ, by James Jepson Binns of the Bramley Organ Works, Leeds, was installed in 1902 and the communion table/war memorial (also designed by the architect J J Burnet, with figures by William Vickers) was dedicated in 1921. The electric lighting scheme came courtesy of Burnet, Son & Dick, in 1927; the fleur-de-lys on top of the light fittings in the nave and south aisle, echoing that on the wall-covering in the Chancel, which may also date from that time.

All of the ‘memorial’ stained glass in the building is the work of Douglas Strachan (1875-1950). The east window of three lights – a representation of St John’s vision in the 1st, 4th and 5th chapters of the Book of Revelation – dates to 1914. One half of a two-lighted window within the Chancel, was installed in 1922 and is a representation of the end of the walk to Emmaus. Its neighbour, from 1950, depicts Joseph’s new tomb at night, guarded by an angel, with a cypress tree. It is thought to have been Strachan’s last work. In the north wall of the nave near to the pulpit, is a two-lighted window from 1937, representing The Crucifixion. After 1904, when the church was raised to the status of Parish Church and Parish quoad sacra, it became known as Stenhouse Parish Church. This changed again in 1963, when the congregation of Carron Church united with that of Stenhouse Church, becoming Stenhouse and Carron Parish Church.

Brian Watters 2006