As workmen pulled down a precarious piece of ceiling masonry a couple of papers floated to earth and it was apparent that they had been trapped under the gallery’s floorboards since May 1893 – over a century ago;

One of these papers was a wonderful pamphlet titled “Life & Work” with the sub heading “Ardrossan New Parish Church” was found and apart from the lovely drawing of the church and hall buildings…..DSC01713

it also contained letters and news from Ardrossan and other parishes plus some wonderful Victorian advertisements for products such as Dr. Richardson’s Magneto Galvanic Battery, The John Noble Knock About Frocks and The “Zoka” Detective Camera.

I’ll write a separate blog detailing all the wonderful adverts (some complete with sketches showing Victorian dress styles).

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The first article in this pamphlet is a sermon by someone signing themselves as A.K.H.B. (any ideas?)

It begins with a sketch of Abbotsford (could this be the house of Sir Walter Scott?) and the date May 1893 and then the heading “Our Sunday Fireside” and the sub-heading “Not for Us at All”.

The first couple of paragraphs in the sermon, which goes on for four pages, reads:

There are humble writers who like to see before them in their minds eye the souls they are addressing. A saintly man who as yesterday (though twenty-eight years since) entered into his rest, often told me that he had always the congregation before him when he was writing his sermon. I fancy it is even so with many who are not saintly at all, but queer-tempered and trouble-some to live with.

I take up my pen on this Spring morning with the palms of Ayrshire on the table beside me because a dear friend asking me to do so set before me a picture which got straight to my heart. The catkins of the willow were never called anything but palms: a touching survival of an old way, gone. I am thinking of a Sunday towards the end of April or the beginning of May: and quite in the quiet country. We have come home from church: the plain country church I knew as a little boy. I look at Winchester Cathedral with calm admiration: but I see the little kirk of Kyle through a certain mist that hallows it. And I have got up and looked at the picture on the wall of a beautiful church, modest in its size but not easily rivalled for situation: the great trees around it, the grand purple hill looking down on it, the sweet river murmuring by, crystal-clear: the green grave where the brave heart of Jeanie Deans mouldered into dust. It once was mine: but that is a generation ago.

So, who was Jeanie Deans and which Kyle is he referring to?

Well, a quick internet search revealed that Jeanie Deans is a fictional character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel “The Heart of Midlothian”. She was one of Scott’s most celebrated characters during the 19th century and she was renowned as an example of an honest, upright, sincere and highly religious person.

As to the Kyle – is it the Kyle of Lochalsch? The Kyle of Tongue? The Kyle of Sutherland or some other Kyle? Maybe YOU can tell me.

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