The Architectural Features of Rutherglen Old Parish Church

The present church has a number of notable architectural features.

An incumbents plaque in the church lists all the ministers of the Old Parish Church since the Reformation. Among these is Rev. John Dickson, one of the leaders of the Covenanting Movement.  The Rev. John Dickson was eventually to be imprisoned on the Bass Rock. In 1679 the Rutherglen Rising took place – this event consisted of the burning at Rutherglen of the edicts of Charles II and is seen as the prelude to the battle of Bothwell Bridge.

The baptismal font, pictured on the left, was a contribution by the Sunday School to the building of the present church. The baptismal bowl from the previous church is still kept in the present church although it is not currently on display.  Among many other items of interest are the historic silver communion cups which are still in regular use.  The Kirk Session minute of 20th August 1665 includes, "The session considering their want of silver cups for the serving of the communion the two that they had being taken away by the English ordained a contribution to be collected in this parish to help to the getting of them and intimation thereof to be made the next Sabbath." Due to their value they are not on display in the church and are stored in a bank vault.

The earliest existing Kirk Session records date back to 5th December 1658.  The records are stored in the Mitchell Library and have been taken out on loan, photocopied and the earliest have been typed to make them more legible.

Above the former "Councillors’ Gallery" is a carving of the Rutherglen Coat of Arms depicting the Virgin Mary and Child – prior to the Reformation our church was called the church of St. Mary the Virgin.  The Coat of Arms also depicts a sailing boat – a reference to the fact that, at one time, Rutherglen was the main port in the West of Scotland.  This Coat of Arms is always referred to when the school children from the Burgh Primary school come to visit the church each year.  It provides an opportunity to teach them about not only the history of the church but also the history of Rutherglen, and of the strong relationship between the church and the town.

Other important features of the church are the stained glass windows.  The South window (facing Main Street) is the war memorial window.  Underneath it is a record of those citizens of Rutherglen who were killed in the Great War, including Private James Richardson of the Manitoba Regiment who received the Victoria Cross - the highest military award granted for exceptional valour.

At the entrance to the graveyard from the Main Street there is a Kirk Port dated 1663 – when it was built this entrance led directly to the main door of the mediaeval church.  On top of the Kirk Port is a sundial dated 1679 and on either side are two stone shelters dated 1761 and it is believed that Rutherglen Old Parish Church is the only church which has such shelters.  The church elders once stood in these stone shelters to collect the offerings of the congregation.

Within St. Mary’s Steeple there is a bell dating from 1635.  It was made in Middleburg in Holland, is still in use, and is inscribed in Latin with words which translate to ‘Glory to God alone.  Michael Burgerhuys made me.’