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Church Burned Down By Shooters

In 1736 the Church was burned down, the thatched roof having been set alight by men shooting swallows. It is recorded that the bell from the burning church tower landed upright on the top of the church wall. Many fine memorials were destroyed including one to the Rev. John Hamilton 'a noted Scottish Divine' who died in 1666.

Until the church was rebuilt the congregation worshipped in summer in a tent made by John Forsyth at a cost of five pounds. In winter a neighbouring barn served as a place of worship.

In Gatt's Catechetical Roll, among other interesting information are the measurements of the church at the time. Originally the church was a simple rectangular shape with an outside stair on the east wall giving access to the east and west lofts or galleries. The position of the doors and windows can be traced on the walls. The tower was narrower than the present one.

The main door was in the east wall and the 'quire' entrance on the west where the present porch now stands. The pulpit was situated on the long north wall. The church had no organ and a Precentor led the praise. Oak pews [now pitched pine] provided seating for the congregation who paid rents for sittings.

In the lofts, at least, the rents of the sittings were graduated, the dearer ones at the front. The heritors of the church, the landowners of Stormont, Springkell, Annandale and Mossknowe, maintained the church property and had the right to certain pews for the use of their tenantry.

Though no such right now exists the crowns which now mark a number of pews were placed there to preserve the association they had in the past with its chief heritor and benefactor, Lord Stormont, Earl of Mansfield, who was the Lord Chief Justice of England.
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THE ANNANDALE OBSERVER, Friday, 22nd October 1971

Gretna Old, Gretna St. Andrew's, Half Morton and Kirkpatrick Fleming Parish Church of Scotland
Scottish Charity Number SC016747