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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Church and session room

Date of Construction:
1780 - 1799

Address :
Randalstown Presbyterian Church (Old Congregation) Portglenone Road Randalstown Antrim Co Antrim


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
20/09/1974 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J0795 9044

Owner Category

Church - Presbyterian

Exterior Description And Setting

An oval building of basalt rubble with a later hexagonal cupola-crowned entrance porch in square basalt and semi-circular ended annex to the rear. Main entrance faces north. Main body of church: oval roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses, with a flat platform on top; two rectangular ventilation grilles in main roof to front, with two more to the rear elevation. Walling of basalt rubble in two stages: coursed masonry to the lower portion up to springing height of window arches, with areas of galletting to the original lime mortar pointing; random rubble masonry to the upper portion of the walls, with original recessed lime mortar pointing; two projecting eaves courses, of basalt and what looks like sandstone blocks. Cast iron guttering and downpipes. Gothic lancet windows to the lower portion, three to each side of the front entrance porch: timber two-lights in Y-tracery, containing leaded quarries, set in smooth cement rendered reveals with projecting painted stone or concrete cills following the curve of the wall; Above each lancet is an elliptical oculus in a radiating continuously arched basalt surround: horizontally pivoted timber windows with radial glazing incorporating a central oval light. Ocular windows continue regularly spaced right around the main building. The ocular windows are set in a flush plane whereas the lancets are curved with the line of the main walling. Beyond the three lancets to each side on the entrance elevation are high level Gothic arched lunettes containing Y-tracery, level with the arched heads of the lancets: glazing and surrounds similar to lancets, with similar cills. In each end of the building, at the extremities of the long transverse axis, is a lateral entrance, semi-circular arched, containing a pair of dark stained panelled doors, each leaf 6-panel, raised and fielded, surmounted by a semi-circular fanlight with intersecting glazing bars, set in continuous raised smooth cement rendered reveals; octagonal bronze handle. Above each lateral entrance is a pointed lunette as previous, with an oculus above that. Lateral doors are in a flat plane, not curved, as are the lunettes and oculi. Central projecting entrance porch surmounted by a lantern and cupola. Walls of porch are of squared basalt in regular courses, with projecting eaves courses as previous; roof slated as previous; cast iron gutters. Front face has a central rectangular entrance doorway, containing a rectangular timber panelled two-leaf door, previous to lateral entrances, with moulded rectangular timber frame. Above is a recessed date stone of bowed form as though originally set in the curved front wall of the main church, with moulded surround, inscribed "Built in 1790, Thomas Henry, Minister"; top edge dished or dipped to accommodate an oval ocular timber window containing decorative intersecting tracery with translucent glazing, set in smooth rendered reveals; antique-style lamp and scrolling iron bracket mounted above window; two broad and deep steps to front entrance, comprised of concrete pavings. Side walls to the porch immediately to each side of the entrance face, each contain a tall Y-traceried lancet, as previous to main body, but in a flat plane; each side wall beyond that, in the angles with the main church, contains a pointed lunette as previous, also in a flat plane. Lantern is hexagonal: of timber construction, with arched openings in each face, recessed in rectangular panels with plain frieze, moulded cornice, and keystone motif; slate hung panels below continuous lead dressed cill. Front face contains a 15-pane timber fixed light surmounted by intersecting tracery lights; rear face contains a rectangular sheeted timber access door surmounted by a louvred fanlight; the other faces are filled with timber louvres. Ogee domed cupola, dressed in lead, with ball finial surmounted by a weathervane. Rear elevation of main block is of similar character to front, with three lancets to each side of a central bowed projection, and a pointed high level lunette to each side beyond that just before the lateral entrance, with ocular windows above each lower opening, as previous to the entrance front, except that the first two ground floor lancets to each side of the projection contain stained glass instead of Y-tracery; clear perspex panels affixed to outside of frames. Basalt rubble chimney in rear wall, off-centre to the left; projecting block cornice; one modern pot. Central bowed rear projection is two-storey; walling of roughly coursed basalt rubble, with projecting eaves courses as previous; roof slated as previous, cast iron gutter and downpipes. Two windows to each floor symmetrically arranged, rectangular timber sliding sash, 6 over 6 with horns, incorporating intersecting glazing bars to top, with exposed moulded sash boxes, set in smooth rendered reveals with projecting painted cills. Sash boxes, window frames and cills all curved to the line of the wall. Two doorways, one to each side next to main body of church: in the west side, a rectangular timber 6-panel door, raised and fielded, set in moulded frames with smooth rendered reveals; in the east side, a rectangular timber panelled and louvred door, raised and fielded in rough cement rendered reveals; concrete doorstep area. SETTING: The building stands within the built-up area of the town, occupying a site between two main roads. It overlooks the road to the front but is set well back within its own grounds which are laid out as a graveyard with flat grassy plots to the front, and a grassy hill to the rear rising to the road at higher level. Memorials in the graveyard are of 19th and 20th century date; none is of special architectural interest. Front boundary formed by a wall of basalt rubble with a gateway aligned with the front porch, comprising square piers of rock faced red sandstone in regular courses surmounted by tinted pink concrete caps, and modern steel double gates which incorporate oval panels reflecting the glazing pattern of the oval oculi to the church itself. There is a similar gateway at the left-hand end aligned axially with the modern church hall. Front gateway leads to a broad modern concrete pavement leading up to front entrance of church with a narrow pavement extending around it to each side, bounded by narrow tarmac strips to each side; tarmac areas to angles of front porch with main body of church; paved areas outside each lateral doorway. Front part of graveyard bounded on east by a basalt rubble retaining wall to the modern church hall; graveyard bounded to west by a hedge, with mature trees forming the boundary to the west at the rear. Rear boundary formed by a basalt rubble wall partly smooth cement rendered on inner face; contains a pedestrian gateway to road at rear, with a pair of plain square rubble piers and rendered caps, and a plain ironwork gate. Immediately to rear of church, to east side of rear projection stands a low cement rendered store with flat concrete roof. Standing to the rear of the church to the west side is a detached single storey rectangular building, the session room. SESSION ROOM: Built of basalt rubble walls; projecting eaves course or frieze, with timber eaves board; hipped roof of Bangor blue slates in regular courses; cast iron gutter and cast iron downpipes; central doorway in north wall, rectangular timber 6-panel, new replacement for original two-leaf door, with chamfered timber frame set in smooth rendered reveals; modern octagonal brass handle. One window in east wall and two in south wall: Gothic arched timber sashes, vertically hung, 6 over 6 with intersecting tracery lights to head, with exposed sash boxes, all painted white, set in smooth rendered reveals; projecting concrete cill. Blocked up former window opening in west wall.


Graham, R D Boyd and Batt

Historical Information

Built as a Presbyterian meeting house in 1790; foundation stone laid on 12th July 1790; gallery inserted, and hexagonal porch and intended belfry added 1830-2; new pulpit inserted, to designs of architects Boyd and Batt, of Belfast, in 1868; walls and roof raised with 18 ocular windows inserted, minister's room added to rear with internal stairs leading up to pulpit, and ground floor pews all replaced, in 1929, to designs of the architect R.D. Graham of Belfast; pipe organ installed in 1949, with pipes placed behind a large oval grille above the pulpit, the old enclosed choir box replaced by rows of choir pews, and the pulpit itself reduced in size and set closer to the wall; sexton's cottage which had formerly stood between the front of the church and the main road, was demolished, and a new front boundary wall was built using stone salvaged from the ruins of Ballymena Castle, in 1956-7; a bell installed in the belfry, for the first time, by 1989; seating layout of choir area altered and two pews removed, one to each side of the central aisle, to create an open space at the front of the choir area, in 1996. The site was granted originally by Rose O'Neill, the Marchioness of Antrim, in 1670 and a meeting house built which lasted until it was demolished to make way for the present church; additional ground given at the time the first church was being built, by Earl O'Neill. Church closed from August 1837 to March 1838 due to a split in the congregation about the choice of a minister. Date of session house not known, but it appears on the OS map of 1829. References – Primary Sources 1. Inscription panel of 1790 over main entrance. 2. OS Map 1829, Co Antrim 43 (shows projections to front and rear and shows session house). 3. OS Map 1858, Co Antrim 43 (shows projections to front and rear and shows session house). 4. OS Map 1903, Co Antrim 43 (rear projection not shown). 5. OS Map 1921, Co Antrim 43 (rear projection not shown). 6. Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Vol 19: Parishes of County Antrim VI, 1830, 1833, 1835-8 (Belfast, 1993), pp 42, 80, 82, and 83. 7. Belfast News-Letter, 4 April 1868. 8. Information from Tom Nicholl, Hon. Sec. to Congregation, in 2000. Secondary Sources 1. UAHS, Antrim and Ballymena (Belfast, 1969), pp 25 and 26. 2. C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of County Antrim (UAHS, Belfast, 1996), pp 40 and 41, and plate Xa.

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form E. Spatial Organisation G. Innovatory Qualities H+. Alterations enhancing the building I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting

Historic Interest

W. Northern Ireland/International Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance Z. Rarity


This is an essentially Georgian church of unusual plan which has lost some original features but has generally been enhanced by later alterations which have contributed to its distinct external proportions and fine and unspoiled galleried interior. It enjoys a pleasant setting in its own grounds, and forms an interesting group with the adjacent former session house, and beyond its local interest and social value it is of wider architectural interest as a rare example of an oval Presbyterian church and an early and innovatory example of the centralised plan form in Irish church architecture generally.

General Comments

Date of Survey

30 September 2000