The Old Meetinghouse

Founded about 1610 by Sir William Stewart on the site of an earlier castle and settlement, on the western fringes of the Ulster Plantation, Ramelton reflects the Presbyterian character of its past. Although they make up a relatively small proportion of the inhabitants, Presbyterians still constitute two sturdy congregations.

The Old Meetinghouse is the first permanent structure erected by the Ramelton followers of this religion. Later it was extended and enlarged.

The precise date of its foundation is not known, but a recent archaeological survey has uncovered C17 features. It was the building in which Rev Francis Makemie worshipped as a youth, and, indeed, he may have helped build it. The meetinghouse remained the place of worship for the small, austere outlying planter settlement, lasting on into the relative prosperity of the later C18 and early C19.

In 1811, it was extended, using timber from the shipwrecked "Saldhana" for supporting pillars. By the turn of the C19, the congregation had built a fine new Gothic edifice with money raised both locally and from the descendants of Makemie's congregations in America.

After 1907, the Old Meetinghouse was left empty, then rented as a workshop. During the Francis Makemie tercentenary commemoration, a fundraising drive began for the restoration of the building. For more than 20 years it has been the home of Ramelton Library.

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