I was emptying buckets of rainwater out of the church building recently with volunteer Emma Paterson when I noticed that the doors to the last few pews in the upper balcony of the church, had previously had writing on them.
The letters are no longer there but the words can clearly be read – “Free Seats”.
You may remember from a previous post (Victorian Graffiti), I had found foot rests engraved with the initials of members of the congregation and names engraved into the hand rests on the pews, presumably to indicate where families or members usually sat.
When I used to go to church, I arrived in with my father and sister and we sat anywhere, but I think the congregation from years gone by had “unofficially” reserved their seats by putting their mark or initials on it.
Now remember, the reason this church was built was because the original Ardrossan Parish Church (actually in what is now Saltcoats) could only hold 840 people and was too small for the size of the parish congregation.
The New Ardrossan Parish Church, which is now the Barony St John, could hold around 1,200 people……and at some point, these numbers must have reduced and some of the back seats were deemed as “Free seats”.
Even still, that’s a lot of people worshipping every Sunday.
How times have changed.