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Traveller’s Tales

Francis Grose

St John Baptist Church

18th Century

Captain Francis Grose was one of the first systematic recorders of architectural and archaeological remains in Britain. His six volume Antiquities of England and Wales published between 1773 and 1787, was followed by Antiquities of Scotland in two volumes published in 1789 and 1791. Robert Burns met him while he was undertaking the latter, and became a friend – writing three pieces about him including On Captain Grose’s Peregrinations through Scotland.

This is a plate from Antiquities of Scotland showing St John's Tower in Ayr.  The tower was where Robert the Bruce held his first Parliament after his coronation and was where he was officially given the crown of Scotland.


"The ruins of the church of St. John the Baptist stands between the town and the sea, within the fort, built by Oliver Cromwell: it is said to have been entire about sixty years ago (around 1730?): at present the tower only remains: its foundation may still be traced, from which it appears to have been in the form of a cross".

The Dick Institute
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East Ayrshire Council