Paisley Abbey was founded in 1163 as a Cluniac Monastery, Paisley Abbey retains its medieval nave with transepts and choir restored in 19th and 20th Centuries. It has Royal Tombs, fine woodcarving and beautiful 19th and 20th century Stained Glass Windows. Visitors can also view the sacristy exhibition and visit the abbey gift and coffee shop.
Paisley Abbey History: It is believed that Saint Mirin (or Saint Mirren) founded a community on this site in 7th century. Some time after his death a shrine to the Saint was established becoming a popular site of pilgrimage and veneration. The name Paisley may derive from the Brythonic Passeleg, ‘basilica’ (derived from the Greek), i.e. ‘major church’, recalling an early, though undocumented, ecclesiastical importance.
In 1163 Walter FitzAlan, the first High Steward of Scotland, issued a charter for a priory to be set up on land owned by him in Paisley, dedicated to Saints Mary, James, Mirin and Milburga.
Around 13 monks came from the Cluniac priory at Much Wenlock in Shropshire to found the community. Paisley grew so rapidly that it was raised to the status of Abbey in 1219. In 1307, Edward I of England had the Abbey burned down, however it was rebuilt later in the 14th century. William Wallace, born in nearby Elderslie is widely believed to have been educated in the Abbey for some time as a boy.
In 1316 Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert I of Scotland and wife of Walter Stewart, the sixth High Steward of Scotland, was out riding near the Abbey. Heavily pregnant at the time, she fell from her horse and was taken to Paisley Abbey where she gave birth to King Robert II. However, Marjorie Bruce died and is buried at the Abbey. In the Abbey itself there are signs which indicate that Marjorie’s baby was cut out of her womb, a caesarean delivery long before anaesthesia was available.
A cairn, at the junction of Dundonald Road and Renfrew Road, approximately one mile to the north of the Abbey, marks the spot where she reputedly fell from her horse.
A succession of fires and the collapse of the tower in the 15th and 16th centuries left the building in a partially ruined state. Although the western section was still used for worship, the eastern section was widely plundered for its stone. Between 1858 and 1928 the north porch and the eastern choir were reconstructed on the remains of the ruined walls by the architect Macgregor Chalmers. After his death, work on the choir was completed by Sir Robert Lorimer.
Monks from Paisley founded Crossraguel Abbey in Carrick, Ayrshire, in 1244.