The foundation stone of All Saints’ Church was laid on the 16th November 1871, and the church was consecrated within the octave of All Saints’ on 8th November 1872 by Bishop Wilson of Glasgow and Galloway, assisted by Bishop Eden of Moray, Ross & Caithness, Primus.
The church was originally built as the private chapel of Mr Edward James Stopford-Blair of Penninghame House. On his death in 1885, in his will, he bequeathed the church and rectory buildings to the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.
The church was designed by the architects, Habbershon & Pate of Bloomsbury, London, and is said to be one of the best examples in Scotland of a small Victorian church; both the church and the rectory mansion are listed buildings, the church being Grade ‘A’.
The church at Challoch, since its consecration, has also had many associations with the Earls of Galloway, and the font and fine brass lectern were gifts from a former Earl. That family was involved with the building of St. Andrew’s ‘chapel of ease’ in Newton Stewart, which although part of All Saints for many decades, is now the ‘chapel of rest’ of the local undertakers.
The church seats 100 in the nave and 20 in the choir. There are 10 stained glass windows, and 17 memorial plaques. The pine altar, usually covered by fine altar frontals, stands in the stone reredos with its gothic arches. The wrought iron and brass rod screen was given by Mrs Elizabeth Stopford-Blair in memory of her husband, the provider of the church.
The organ is a fine example of a manual ‘tracker’ and was built by Harston of Newark-on-Trent in 1881, having an electric blower added by the James’s of Killiemore following the death in 1956 of Hew Lawrence James, aged 22, in whose memory it is dedicated. The organ was restored in 1992, and appears to be the only example of Harston’s work still in original condition in use in Great Britain.
The peal consists of three bells which were re-cast by Taylors of Loughborough at the charge of William Malcolm Hamilton of Craichlaw. They were dedicated on the feast of the Epiphany in 1924 to the memory of his mother and sister. The bells were tuned, restored and electronically mechanised by the same company from a generous donation by Berkeley Stewart of Barraer in memory of his wife Sandra, and dedicated on 13th August 1989.
Within the boundaries of the charge, which is one of the largest in the area, is Whithorn, one of the most sacred places in Scotland. In AD 397, St. Ninian landed at the Isle of Whithorn and built the first church known as Candida Casa from where he evangelised large parts of the southern lowlands and uplands.
To find out more about Whithorn, contact The Whithorn Trust.