Inchinnan (variously known as Inchienun, Inchenane, Inchinan in historic documentation and Kilinan in the Ragman Roll), sits at the confluence of 3 rivers; the White Cart, the Black Cart and the Gryffe all of which flow into the Clyde. The name is thought to derive from either “island in the river” or “Finnan’s Island”, Kilinan referring to Finnan’s Kirk.
The earliest sign of settlement derives from the Iron Age. The Damnonii settled here possibly because the river confluence made it valuable for movement around the area and for trading routes. They also settled on Alclud (Alclut), now Dumbarton Rock. Over time, the Romans came and went or incorporated themselves into the locality. Minor skirmishes ensued before the Kingdom of Strathclyde was forged with Alclud as the seat of Kings. Inchinnan had rich fertile soils and mineral resources which would have been advantageous to the community.
In either AD 597 or 606 their “Celtic” theology was challenged by the arrival of St Conval (aka Connal or Convallus). St Conval was the son of an Irish nobleman who crossed the Irish Sea on St Conval’s Stone, Currus Sancti Convalli (close by, at the Normandy Hotel). This stone was a popular pilgrimage site, where water collected from the nooks and crannies of the stone was used to “cure” ailments.
St Conval preached in the style of St Columba having trained on Iona and was a contemporary of St Mungo. The Strathclyde Kings of Alclut, supported him and allowed him to build his church at Inchinnan. This would have been a wattle and daub construction. Using this as his base he travelled along the White Cart preaching Christian teachings. Records from the 10th century state that his bones were housed in a church at Inchinnan in a handsome sarcophagus.
The next 300 years saw Christianity replacing the “Pagan” religions. Initially a Celtic Christianity, this was eventually superseded by the wealth and organisation of the Roman Church.
In the 12th century the Church and surrounding land was granted to the Knights Templar by King David I. The site was known as Ladyacre. The Knights Templar had a preceptory at Greenend (House of Hill or Northbar) and patronage of the Parish Church at Inchinnan. In the beginning of the 14th century the immense wealth of the Knights Templar attracted Philip of France. A council at Vienne in France resolved that the whole property of the Knights Templar be confiscated and the Order abolished. King Philip IV appropriated most of the property and the remainder was given to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. This Order became heir to the Templar lands in Scotland and continued to enjoy them until the reformation. Following this suppression of the Knights Templar in 1312 and the Knights of St John of Jerusalem in 1560, patronage of the Church passed to the Lennoxes, then to the Duke of Montrose and finally to the Blythswood family in 1737.
History of All Hallows site
Very little is known of the early history of Inchinnan Church. As mentioned, St Conval, was one of the chief disciples of Saint Kentigern (St Mungo) and founded churches at Inchinnan, Pollokshaws and Ferenese. He is believed to have died in about 612. Records from the 10th century state that his bones were housed in a church at Inchinnan in a handsome sarcophagus.
Of the first church built by Saint Conval no trace remains. We do know that there was a church built around 1100 some 20 years before Glasgow Cathedral and 60 years before Paisley Abbey. In 1153 King David I gifted the Church of Inchinnan to the Knights Templars. It may have been rebuilt between 1100 and 1110. On the suppression of the Templars in 1312, Inchinnan along with their other possessions in Scotland was bestowed on the Knights of St. John who held it until the Reformation.
In 1828 the medieval church was in a dangerous condition and demolished. In his 1836 Statistical Account of Inchinnan Rev. Mr Lockhart stated that beneath the flooring of the original Church “was found to be literally paved with skulls”. It is unclear if these were remnants from the Battle of Renfrew or those of the Templar Knights. A new church was built of the same size.
At the end of the 19th century, Archibald, first Baron of Blythswood, resolved to enlarge the church by adding Transepts and a Chancel to it. Whilst the work was in progress it was decided to rebuild the main body of the church as well. Whilst the congregation continued to worship in the old building, the walls of the new nave were built around it. When they were completed the earlier church was removed.
The new Church (All Hallows) was completed in 1904 at a cost of £20,000. This Church was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson who restored Dunblane Cathedral, Culross Abbey and the interior of Dunfermline Abbey.
The church now incorporated the family crypt which had been a part of the western nave of the 1828 church. Its distinctive square tower was never completed. The original plan was for it to rise to 125ft. The entrance to the crypt was inscribed with the words “I dwell amongst my own people”.
All Hallows Church was consecrated on Sunday 6th June 1904. The inscription carved around the walls of the Chancel stated ‘’Dedicated to All Hallows and the memory of those who for more than a thousand years have worshipped here and are now in life eternal’’
The Church at All Hallows meant a great deal to the people of Inchinnan and also many in Renfrew. Up until its closure in 1965 there was a large congregation. It was also the centre of social activities in the area, catering well for young people with brownies, guides, cubs, scouts, Sunday Schools, youth fellowships, and Bible classes, most of them held in the church hall beside the church. The hall also held many social evenings for locals before the Community Hall was built in the village in the 1950’s.
All Hallows was held in great affection by Inchinnan and Renfrew people as many generations of families had worshiped in the church and were very sorry when it had to be demolished to make way for Glasgow Airport. It is fortunate that most of the interior fittings of All Hallows were incorporated into the new church of St. Convals which was built to replace it.
The closing service was held on the 20th June 1965.
OTHER AREAS ON INTEREST
Lord Blythswood joined the 79th Highlanders at the age of 16. He fought in the Crimean War in 1855, where he was severely wounded. He transferred to the Scots Fusilier Guards and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
On 7 July 1864, he married Hon. Augusta Clementina Carrington, a daughter of the 2nd Baron Carrington, at Whitehall Chapel, London. He retired from the army in 1868 on the death of his father.
He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Renfrewshire from 1873 to 1874 and for West Renfrewshire from 1885 to 1892. He was also Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire from 1904 to 1908. On 4 May 1880, he was created a baronet, of Blythswood and was an Aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria. In 1888 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of Law from the University of Glasgow and made a Freeman of the City of Glasgow.
As a notable amateur scientist, the Blythswood Laboratory at his family seat was used to experiment into many areas at the borders of physics, including the use of cathode rays, X-rays, radioactivity and spectroscopy (from 1892 to 1905). He designed a speed indicator, which was fitted to ships of the Royal Navy, and carried out studies into the efficiency of aerial propellers some years before the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight in 1903.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May, 1907 and died possessed of the family seat in Renfrewshire and Halliford Manor in Shepperton. He died on at age 73 at his home, Blythswood House, without issue and was buried on 11 July 1908 in the Blythswood Crypt.
His baronetcy became extinct but his barony passed to his brother, Rev. Sholto Campbell. In 1940, the Seventh Baron Blythswood (also called Archibald) was killed in an automobile accident. The Seventh Baron was in the Army at this time but was not on active service when he died. The Graveyard contains a memorial to the seventh Baron awarded by the Commemorative War Grave Commission.
Now better known as Glasgow International Airport, Abbotsinch Airport originally opened as an RAF Airfield. In January 1933 the Royal Air Force 602 Squadron (City of Glasgow) Auxiliary Air Force moved its aircraft from nearby Renfrew Airport. In 1940, a torpedo training unit was formed, which trained both RAF and Royal Navy crews. On 11 August 1943 Abbotsinch was handed over solely to the Royal Navy and it became the naval base HMS Sanderling. Years of expansion resulted in the runway encroaching ever closer to the Church tower, at one point there was only a 16 foot air space gap between it and passing aircraft.
In the 1960s the Airport negotiated a deal with the Church resulting in the demolition of All Hallows. The closing service was held on 20th June 1965. The airport paid £135,000 in compensation. The graveyard is still intact (the last internment was thought to be in the 1960’s) however it is part of the controlled air space of the airport and so requires security clearance for entry.
Battle of Renfrew
On October 20th 1164, King Malcolm IV’s army under the direction of Walter Fitz Alan, the Steward of Scotland, was attacked by the forces of Somerled Mac Gillebride, (Somerled), the Norse Gaelic (Gall-Gael) King of Mann and the Isles, Lord of Argyll, Kintyre and Lorn.
Somerled had been approached by powerful Scottish nobles to help in overthrowing Malcolm IV. A series of attacks and raids were undertaken by him along the coast of Scotland. Malcolm IV then demanded the fealty of Somerled and the resignation of his lands into the hands of the sovereign (although Somerled would have continued to hold them as a vassal of the Crown). When no response was given, Malcolm IV prepared to enforce his authority by assembling a powerful army at Renfrew Castle, Renfrew. After landing at Inchinnan and marching towards Renfrew, the two sides met near Paisley and the battle began. The Scottish royal army consisted of Scoto-Norman knights and armoured men-at-arms, and Somerled’s Gaelic and Norse warriors were no match against them. Somerled was allegedly wounded in the leg by a javelin and then killed by the sword of his opponents. His eldest son died by his side. With Somerled’s death, the Gaelic, Celtic and Viking army took flight and many were slain, before the survivors escaped back to the ships. The battle is described in the Latin poem “Carmen de Morte Sumerlidi”. Some think that the battleground is between Newshot Island and Teucheen (Chugheen) Woods, in the vicinity of the Beardmore Cottages and Florish Farm, where the land was called “the bloody myre”. Local legend has it that 2 mounds within Teucheen Wood are where the bodies of the slain are buried.
A history of the County of Renfrew from the earliest times. By William M. Metcalfe, D.D. Paisley: Alexander Gardner, publisher by appointment to the late Queen Victoria. 1905. McClelland, Robert. The Church & Parish of Inchinnan: A Brief History. 1907. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013.
The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.