Preaching started in 1733 under the name of 'The Associate Church of Stitchel', and the first church was built in 1739-40. It was rebuilt in 1755, and again in 1803 and 1878, probably on the same site as the church building of today. The church changed its name to the 'United Free Church' in 1855.
The buildings we see today were built in 1878 on land owned by George Alexander Baird. The church and outbuildings took some years to complete. Most of the money for the building came from local farmers and business men, who, in good years would give generously to the building costs, but not so in lean years. It took about ten years to complete.
Johnnie Hardie, who lived in the village from 1926 till the mid 1950's said of the Churches in Stichill:
'Cairns Memorial Church was the one penny church as most of the farmers, business men and well-to-do people went there. The Stichill Parish Church was the poor relation and it was called the halfpenny church, as the working class attended there.'
On the death of Cecilia Baird (George Alexander Baird's mother) in 1895, the land was sold to James Deuchar along with the rest of the Stichill Estate. On his death in 1927, the estate was split up, with the land on which the Church and Manse (now Hill House) were built being sold to the Cairns Memorial Church congregation for the sum of £70.
The church had changed its name to Cairns Memorial Church prior to 1930, in recognition of one of their finest ministers, the Rev David Cairns, who had served Stichill from 1855 - 1900, as Minister, and, until his death in 1910, as a committed member of the community.
When the Rev John Stewart, Minister of the Cairns Memorial Church, died in 1938, the two churches united under the banner of Stichill and Hume Parish Church. The Parish Church building was used for worship.
While the Cairns Memorial Church was now redundant, the halls at the rear were used for meetings of the various church bodies. The church building was sold in 1966 to John Carlaw of Baillieknowe who used it for storage, and later to a local builder, but because it is a listed building, its future use was very much constrained. In 2001, it was bought by someone who is interested in converting it into a home.
The Church Halls
The rooms at the back of the church would have been used vigorously prior to the closure of the church building itself, in 1938. Since then, the Halls have found different uses as the years have rolled by.
The Cairns Memorial Halls have been used as the meeting place for The Woman's Guild, the Kirk Session, as a local library and as the meeting place for the Sunday School. Unfortunately the Sunday School no longer functions.
The Halls and the stables have not changed much over the years. They were considerably upgraded in 1981, when, in a period of two months, they were totally refurbished with the door between the Hall and the Church building being bricked up, new toilets installed, and a new kitchen fitted. Tastefully decorated throughout, with the leaded windows repaired and the floor varnished it was ready for many more years of use. Since then the main work done has been the removal of the old heating system, with the maintenance being kept up. During the recent vacancy within the church, the Halls served their purpose as a meeting place for the committees very well, as there had not been a Manse in Stichill since 1974, and the Smailholm Manse having been sold in 1998, when the Rev Bruce Hay retired.
Today, 2001, there is a new minister, Rev Valerie Watson, for the linked parishes of Makerstoun and Smailholm, with Roxburgh with Stichill, Hume and Nenthorn, and a new manse has been bought in Stichill village.
The Church and its congregation now move on and the feeling, at this time, is that the halls should be sold along with the old church building as part of the enhancement of the village.
[With thanks to the Stichill Millennium Project for access to their photographs and the text upon which this item is based.]
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