The original parish church of Muiravonside was founded in 1648 and the present church built in 1806 (the Architecture of Scottish Protestant Reformed Churches, George Hays) replaced an earlier building which must have stood on the same site. The old "Statistical Account" of 1791 gives credence to this thought for it describes as "old" a church building standing in the old Kirkyard. Further, no ruins or foundations of a former Church have ever been found anywhere else in the Parish.
The belfry of the present church is obviously of a much earlier origin than the church itself and is typical of those seen on seventeenth century churches; the bell bears an inscription with the date 1699 and could well be the first bell of the original church.
The church is almost square in shape and before being refurbished to its present condition in 1955, the internal features were typical of early nineteenth century churches, the pulpit being situated in the centre of the south side wall, with the pews on three sides and a semi-circular gallery on the east-north and west sides.
In 1947, it was found that wood-worm and dry rot had so badly infested the building that a complete internal renovation was necessary. A new vestibule was added at the east end with vestry and session house, the original session house which stood at the gateway to the church being demolished. A carved stone cross, again of an earlier origin than the old session house which it had surmounted was placed above the east gable of the church.
The interior of the church was replanned to give a central aisle running from east to west - with the pulpit and chancel placed at the west end gable which also houses a decorative window giving the date of renovation. A most attractive feature of the church is the beautiful stained glass windows commemorating the ministry of the Rev.George Keith, M.A., B.D. Minister at Muiravonside 1871-1884. The building seats 400.
In 1980, the Double Manual Trayser Harmonium, gifted by Mrs.Brown of Vellore in 1912, was replaced by an "Omegan" electric organ. In 1902 the late J.G.Urquhart of Vellore, bequeathed a site and £2000 for the building of a church in Maddiston to the Kirk Session and Heritors of the Parish of Muiravonside. Stonebuilt, the church known as Cairneymount Church was built at the top of a hill at the south end of Maddiston and completed in 1904.In 1973, due to the general dilapidated condition of the old church hall, it became necessary to effect alterations to Cairneymount Church that it might serve the dual function of hall and church and as well as being a regular place of worship, served as a meeting place for the various organisations of the church; the Women's Guild and Young Women's Group; the Girls' Brigade and the Boys' Brigade - and Sunday School. In 1980 the facilities of Cairneymount Church were greatly increased with the building extension of a small hall and a suite of toilets.
Today Cairneymount Church is now closed and worship is carried out at Muiravonside.
The Parish of Muiravonside
Muiravonside is the most easterly parish in Stirlingshire and as its name suggests is bounded by the River Avon on the south, east and north. Although the parish is mainly rural, by far the larger proportion of its inhabitants is concentrated in the villages of Maddiston and Whitecross.
The early history of the parish is obscure, there are remains of fortified mounds near the river Avon, at Easter Manuel and Sighthill both close to the Edinburgh-Glasgow road and at Castlehill further to the west; some stone coffins have been found behind these defences, but it is impossible to determine whether they were erected for defence against the Romans or the Danes.
The priory of Manuel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was founded in 1156 by Malcolm IV and housed a community of Cistercian Nuns, but the name suggests an earlier foundation by the Culdees dedicated to our Lord in his title Emmanuel. Haining Castle is a fifteenth century manor consisting originally of an L-shaped building of ground floor and three upper floors. The name "Haining" is derived from an old Scots word for "enclosure." Its lands were granted to Reginald de Crauford, a member of a family of note in the reign of James 1, and according to a charter dated January 17, 1425, they included a large part of the present parish. They passed by marriage in 1540 to the family of Livingstone who were the Lords of Callendar. The castle contained a chapel on the second floor and a Papal Mandate dated 1454 directed the Bishop of Dunblane to grant the inhabitants of the area the right to elect a clerk-minister to assist the priest who was Chaplain at the Castle. This would indicate that, although the district formed part of the parish of Falkirk, the people enjoyed the services of their own priest at Haining before the Reformation and before the erection of the first church at Muiravonside.
The castle and lands continued in the Livingstone family and in 1646 a charter of Charles I, confirms them to James Earl of Callendar, a title granted to James, Lord Livingstone in 1641. His nephew and heir Alexander, became Lord Livingstone of Almond and the estate took the name of Almond. This is borne out by the inscription on the two silver communion chalices dated 1676 - which are part of the present church's communion plate regulary used - "Hoc potulum ad ecclesiam de Almond pertinet."
The estates of the Earl of Callander including the lands of Haining were forfeited because of his complicity in the Jacobite Rebellion in 1715 and sold to the York Buildings Company in 1720, from whom they were bought in 1783 by William Forbes, whose descendents have been the principal landowners in the eastern part of the parish since. The castle itself seems to have declined in status after passing out of the hands of the Earl of Callendar; it was let to tenants and gradually fell into disrepair; by 1797 it was recorded in the first "Statistical Account" that "it is now inhabitated."
The original parish school of Muiravonside exists in a dwelling house and was still the School House until the 1930s. Muiravonside School was built in the last part of the nineteenth century and was closed in 1955, when a new school was opened in Whitecross, a modern building with five classrooms and with an outside play area. There is also a general purposes classroom with facilities for films and television.
The original Maddiston school, built in the 1870s and enlarged in 1911 had five classrooms and a central hall. A further extension was made in 1929 adding another five classrooms, making a total of ten in all. An Infant Department Annexe containing three modern classrooms and a general purposes room was formally opened on December 28, 1956 by Councillor Henry Cockburn, J.P.
Maddiston now has a brand new school recently opened on a site just to the west of the original school. A happy relationship exists between both schools and Church.