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COLLEGE BOW, Municipal Buildings grounds, corner Church Street and Station Road, Dumbarton. 

ACCESS : Easy.

Listed B. 


This simple stone pointed arch is the sole remnant recovered from the tower of the demolished St Mary's Collegiate Church which stood nearby. 

It dates from about 1453. It was removed in 1850 when Dumbarton Central Station was built and erected in College Street, and then moved again to its present site next to the Municipal Buildings in 1907. During this period it served first as a gateway to the Old Burgh Academy and then to St Augustine's. 

Quite a varied life for a simple stone arch!

Besides the parish church in Dumbarton, there was the Collegiate establishment founded by Isabella, Duchess of Lennox, in 1450. After many years, the Collegiate Church, which was situated at the end of what is now known as the Broadmeadow, fell into disuse after the Reformation, and when the encroachments of the Leven had made it useless for any purpose, the stones were taken to help the embankment raised against the force of the current. On 22nd April, 1628, the Town Council resolved that the holes in the Kirk Vennel should be filled up with earth and stones taken from the College. An arched gateway remained standing at the Bankend till 1850, when the railway operations at that point caused the removal of this memorial of the structure reared in pious rememberance by the Duchess Isabella. [Irving].

The following is highly speculative. At the rear of the tenenments with shops below in the High Street is the stone crest shown below. If so much trouble was taken to save the "College Bow", were any other features recovered too? Churches generally had quite ornate stonework. Was this also part of the Collegiate Church? 

At the time of the Reformation the number of Catholics shrunk drastically.. Some would say they were eradicated. Yet over time a few met within the ruins of the Old Parish Church of Cardross which stands in the Levengrove policies. (St Patricks RC Church website). Eventually the number of Catholics had recovered and they were able to meet once a fortnight in a store in Kane's Pend in College Street where Holy Mass was celebrated secretly. College Street is of course the later name of Cross Vennel; a name still found near Dumbarton Central Station. College Street was named for the Collegiate Church of St. Mary established at its northern end but left to decay and pillaged after the Reformation. Did the 19th century builders recognise this stone as something special or simply build it in on casual impulse? As we have seen some stone of St Mary’s was removed in 1850 of which the College Bow bears tesimony. Was this crest from this time?

For more on this consideration, the historical context and what this crest signifies see the ARTICLES at the end : HISTORY - Local Mysteries. index.asp?pageid=715697

BRITISH LISTED BUILDINGS : https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200360983-college-bow-municipal-buildings-church-street-dumbarton-dumbarton#.X95oo3pxdPY

CANMORE : http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB24876

IRVING, JOSPEPH. The Book of Dumbartonshire. Volume II Parishes. W. and A . K. Johnston. Edinburgh and London. 1879.

ST PATRICK'S R C CHURCH website : http://www.stpatricksdumbarton.org.uk/images/After%20Reformation%20before%201830.pdf



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