For over four hundred years the long-forgotten Barony of Auchinames, on the west of Kilbarchan village, was the property of the Crawfurds of Auchinames. Reginald Crawfurd was granted the Barony by Robert the Bruce in 1320 for his services at the Battle of Bannockburn. It remained in the possession of the Crawfurds until the middle of the eighteenth century when Patrick Crawfurd, the 16th baron, sold the estate off in lots. The Crawfurd’s Castle of Auchinames was demolished, but the remains of their chapel, dedicated to St. Catherine, and an old knight’s gravestone can still be seen in the old Parish Churchyard.
St.Catherine’s Chapel was built early in the 15th century by Thomas de Crawfurd, 3rd Baron of Auchinames. The function of this chapel was the salvation of his soul and the souls of his predecessors and successors. The patronage was vested in himself and his heirs. By the Foundation Charter of 1401, Crawfurd gave the rental of some of his lands for maintenance of a chaplain ministering in the chapel, which was about to be built; or ministering to the altar of the Holy Virgin Mary in the Church of Kilbarchan. The charter was ratified by King Robert III and St Catherine’s Chapel was built soon after.
At the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Crawfurds lost the chapel lands which were given over by charter ‘in feu’ to laymen. Mary Queen of Scots confirmed this by charter in 1565 and she ‘dispensed with the statues’. However, some years later, William Crawfurd, 9th Baron of Auchinames (1547-82), regained the endowments of St Catherine’s Chapel, and James Chalmers, a zealous Protestant, was the appointed patron. The chapel was still upstanding in 1696 when Archibald Crawfurd, 9th Baron of Auchinames included ‘the chappell of Saint Katharine, situat within the church yeard of Killbarquhane’ in the property he wished to leave to his heirs.
The chapel was shown as a ruin in the 1st ed. OS Map of 1856. The accompanying O S Name Book states that the walls of the chapel stood about 4ft high. The walls had been faced with dressed stone, and an iron railing placed on top, the enclosure being in use as a private burial ground. The iron railing has since been removed. The lower walls of the chapel still stand in the churchyard today as an enclosure where subsequent owners of former Auchinames lands were buried.
An old medieval gravestone of a knight, irreverently used as building material, can be seen in the churchyard wall on the left of the entrance pillars in Church Street. The gravestone appears to show the spots of ermine of the Crawfurd coat-of-arms and is almost certainly from the burial place of an early Baron of Auchinames.
© 2016 Helen Calcluth