A HISTORY OF THE PARISH OF OCHILTREE
The area that is Ochiltree was known by that name long before there was a village.   Ochil in ancient Scots means high, and the area was a wooded landmark which could be seen for miles, known as Ochiltrees (High Trees),
The earliest reference to the Church in Ochiltree is in 1296 when the curate of the Church, Robert de Spalding swore fealty (allegiance) to the English King, Edward I (longshanks) at Berwick.   While Robert the Bruce was on the throne, the Church lands at Ochiltree were granted to the Monks of Melrose.

Ochiltree Castle, long since gone, was the seat of the Protestant branch of the Royal House of Stewarts.   Andrew Stewart, grandson of Lord Avondale, exchanged his Barony with James Hamilton of the Stewarts, for the title of Lord Ochiltree in 1542, an Act of Parliament ordainded this in 1543.   The second Lord Ochiltree was wounded at the battle on Langdale fighting against Mary Queen of Scots.   His brother Henry Stewart married the widow of James VI and was created Baron Methven.   Margaret his second daughter married the great reformer and orator John Knox in 1564.   John Knox almost certainly preached at the old Church.

Until 1669 the Ochiltree Parish contained the Parish of Stair, and in 1978 the two Parishes came together again as a linked charge.

The old Church was demolished and the present Church built in 1789, and the first Minister was Rev. David Grant, who became a great friend of Robert Burns, only after Burns had wrote a rather insulting poem about him.   In 1895 the Church was condemmed as being in a serious state of disrepair, the walls were rent in several places, the cornice plaster loose and falling away.   The presbytery found the building to be unsuitable for worship, and dangerous.   They advised the present building be demolished and replaced.   In fact the building was extensively renovated over a period of 13 months and re-opended on 11th December 1898 by Rev. Thomas Walker B.A. of Dalry, whose father had been Minister of Ochiltree from 1844-1880.

The responsibility of the heritors for all the costs of the Church ended in 1929.   After that date a system of seat rents was introduced whereby people paid an agreed annual sum for thier seats.   In 1947 an attempt to at a free will offering was tried, it did not prove successful.   It was only in 1952 that a vote of 41 to 22 that free will offering was accepted.

The Womens Guild was formed in 1887, and as The Guild is still going strong today.   The Guild have during their existence made many contributions to the Church.

The Church Hall was erected in 1908 by the parents of James Angus their son, who died at Ochiltree House.   The Womens Guild presented a moveable platform, which has been replaced by a fixed stage.   The hall has a beautiful arched wooden ceiling.

Mrs. Rutherford, wife of the Minister, formed the Girls Brigade at Ochiltree in 1926.   The local company gifted the Font and Hymn boards to the Church.   Colours were pruchased in 1976 to celebrate 50 years of Girls Brigade in Ochiltree.

The Parish Church was not always the only Church in Ochiltree.   There was a United Free Church on the site of the War Memorial.   In 1947 two stained glass windows from the Free Church were gifted to Ochiltree Parish Church.

Since the reformation the first Minister at Ochiltree was Rev. Robert Hamilton, the first Minister of the present Church was Rev. David Grant and the present Minister is Rev. Carolyn M. Baker.    The longest serving Minister was Rev. Neil McKay, 50 yearsfrom 1880 - 1930.






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