After the Reformation the upkeep of the church fabric was vested in the ‘Heritors of the Parish’ These were the landowners in the parish and they had the responsibility to maintain, for the community, the church, the churchyard and the manse as well as paying the minister’s stipend. In return they had the right to designated pews in the Kirk for themselves their family tenants and servants.
As time wore on, many repairs were effected on the old Kirk with repairs to the roof and new pews being the most common. After many years of complaining to the Heritors, Mr Tod the incumbent minister petitioned the Presbytery in Irvine, in February 1777, that
“...a visitation be made with assistance of skilled tradesmen that the church (in Dreghorn) be pulled down and a new one built.”
It is certain that it was built on the site of the old church.
In the session minutes of some years earlier mention is made of the seating arrangements for the Heritors, and from the description we can build up a picture of a small rectangular building of one storey.
In March the same year, the Presbytery agreed that a new church be constructed but it took over two years before the Presbytery agreed to petition the Earl of Eglinton, as the main heritor to... “give in a plan of a New Kirk.”
By March 1780 the Heritors had agreed to proceed and the building commenced giving us the iconic structure that we see today with its octagonal plan and striking steeple.
Archibald, the 11th Earl of Eglinton is the man we have to thank for the style of our present church. As the principal heritor, and patron of the church, the session and presbytery alike looked to him to provide the ‘plan for the new Kirk’. During the 17710’s he had travelled extensively in Europe and having an eye for architecture he probably acquired inspiration for such a design from his travels.