The Old Church B&B, a Ghost, and a Lonely Grave: Part I

The Old Church B&B in Muirkirk, Scotland. The two upper windows provided our suite with a pleasant view of the town, countryside and rain. Note the plants growing on top.


Have you ever slept in a church? I mean seriously. Nodding off during a two-hour sermon doesn’t count.

Peggy and I had the experience in Muirkirk, a small community in southwest Scotland east of Ayr.  We were in town searching for the grave of my earliest known ancestor on my father’s side, John Brown the Martyr of Priesthill.

I picked the Old Church B&B off the Internet because it was located three miles from where Brown was shot down by ‘Bloody’ Clavers, the bane of Covenanters. But more on that later…

David greeted us at the door. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I felt he had a slight elvish quality, or is that impish?

What we weren’t expecting was how delightful our stay at the B&B would be. Total credit goes to the owners, David and Lesley Martin. (And, I might add, their children.) The Bread and Breakfast began its life as a church in 1873 and maintained that occupation up until its retirement in 1965.

David and Lesley bought the church in 2004 and set out to remodel it into the present B&B. (David still feels guilty about eliminating the pigeons that called the vacant building home.)

The Martins did a superb job on their remodeling effort; it’s called paying attention to detail. Each room is carefully thought out. Artwork, much of it painted by Lesley, adorns the walls. Furniture begs to be occupied. A wood stove provides crackling heat in the sitting room, a fact we truly appreciated during the cold rainy day we spent in Muirkirk. And the kitchen/dining room is right out of Sunset Magazine.

The inviting bed in our suite.

A serious cook's stove, with which Lesley whips up full Scottish Breakfasts and bakes mouth-watering bread.

But what really made the stay a joy was the warm friendliness of David and Lesley. David is a font of information on all things Scottish. I asked him about the Scottish independence movement, an event that has been evolving for over a thousand years. An hour later he had completed his dissertation. I’m not sure he stopped for breath. He’s for it.

Lesley runs an international bread baking school out of the B&B. That’s a twist. And a benefit for guests! We got freshly baked cookies when we arrived. Twice Lesley sent hot bread straight out of the oven to our room, along with several ounces of butter. Be still my pounding heart. Then there was the full Scottish breakfast she cooked up and David served.

Our one night stay turned into a two-night stay. The bottom line: if you find yourself anywhere in southwest Scotland, put the Old Church B&B on your itinerary.

A final note : Lesley commented on my last blog that I have been misspelling Edinburgh. My apologies to the fine people of Scotland. I shall reform.

Thursday’s Blog: The Ghost

Knick knacks, canned fruit, and a genuine feel of home.

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