Erskine United Presbyterian Church, Stirling

The original Erskine Kirk was founded in the 18th century amid local religious upheaval. The 1740 church was replaced in 1825 with a new church

Ebenezer Erskine (1680-1745), after whom the church was named, came to Stirling in 1731, as third minister of the Church of the Holy Rude. He was one of a group of ministers of the Church of Scotland who broke away in 1733 on matters of theology and principle. A man of radical Presbyterian views he fought and preached against Episcopacy. He is reputed to have wished the continuation of witch hunting.

After his breakaway from the Holy Rude Church, he held open air meetings and eventually built a meeting house in the 'Back Raw', as St. John Street was then known. on the site where the Erskine memorial now stands. Erskine was buried at the site of the communion table of the old original church.

Around 1820 the congregation arranged with Allan Johnstone, architect and builder, to have a new church erected between their old one and the Back Walk. In a grand auction they sold off all the building materials of the old building and the money raised raised went to reduce the mortgage that they had contracted. The new church's interior was acoustically perfect and had a curved gallery, tiered seating and fine plasterwork.

In 1859 the congregation agreed to engage Peddie and Kinnear, architects in Edinburgh, to design and build a memorial to Ebenezer Erskine and, in 1860, the church was named the Erskine Church.

In 1934, the Erskine Church became the Erskine Marykirk, derived from the merger between the Erskine and the mission church in St.Mary's Wynd. Over time the congregation dwindled and the Erskine Church was eventually abandoned in 1968.

By 1979 the roof had caved in and damp, rot, decay and rubble were everywhere. In 1980 the building was largely destroyed by fire leaving only the facade which was retained and incorporated within a new building for the Youth Hostel. The new youth hostel was opened in 1993 and is a modern fully equipped hostel with accommodation for 126 people and offers travellers the opportunity to stay in the historic heart of Stirling.

The Erskine Memorial remains as it has for the past 140 years in front of the Youth Hostel. A permanent reminder of what the site once stood for.

Rev John Steedman