Mearns Castle on the road to repair

Mearns Castle interior (above) and exterior (below). Bottom: members of the church used the castle building during the 70s.
Mearns Castle interior (above) and exterior (below). Bottom: members of the church used the castle building during the 70s.

MAXWELL Mearns Castle parish church has secured the first lot of funding to restore its historic castle, currently on the buildings at risk register for Scotland.

The Newton Mearns church has been awarded £17,850 from the Whitelee Wind Farm Fund for a feasibility study — the first step into turning the 15th century castle into a community resource.

Church member Sandy McDougall told The Extra: “The aim is to get it back in use, for community and church events — and for the greater good of the whole community.

“The building already attracts interest from historians, and there’s an idea to introduce an historic trail to the area — it would also be a great place for weddings.

“There are a lot of school kids in Newton Mearns too, so to have something safe and this steeped in history for them to visit would be wonderful.”

The wind farm funding and support from the General Trustees for the Church of Scotland has allowed the church to commission a study of the grade A listed castle — which dates back to 1449, making it older than Glasgow’s oldest house, Provand’s Lordship (1471).

The licence for the building was granted to Lord Maxwell of Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfriesshire, by James II, “to build on his lands lying within the barony of Mearns in Renfrewshire a castle or fortalice...and to erect on top of it all such warlike apparatus as might be necessary for the defence thereof”.

Defence came into play again during World War Two, as it has been suggested that anti-aircraft guns were installed on the roof.

Maxwell Mearns Castle church moved to the site in 1969, taking up residence in the castle’s grand hall while its current building was erected.

Sandy continued: “It’s ironic that it was built for the Maxwell family, and became home to Maxwell church when it was relocated by the building of the Kingston Bridge.

“There have since been a couple of attempts to start on renovation in the 80s and 90s.

“The first phase of this project is to update the reports made back then, and to repair the roof to make the building watertight, so that it can start to dry out.

“It’ll take a few years — but at least we can see a way forward now.”