Built on the ancient parish of Coole come visit our beautiful church, wander our graveyard and view the Smythe Celtic Cross and St Brigids Well.
The church is shown on the first edition OS map of 1833. The Townland Valuation of 1834 records the Presbyterian Meeting House which is valued at £15.17s 0d. Griffiths Valuation of 1857 records the Presbyterian Church, yard and National School, with total value of £80.0s.0d. The value remains unchanged from this through subsequent valuations, latest dated 1901.
James Boyle, in the OS Memoirs dated 1839, writes of the church: ‘The Presbyterian meeting house at Whiteabbey was built in 1833 by subscription and cost 905 pounds, with 84 pounds 8s for enclosing and improving the ground intended for the burial ground, consisting of about three roads planted with forest trees and shrubs. However the plans for the graveyard did not proceed.
The style of the meeting house is the Grecian and Doric, with a neat tower surmounted with a belfry and dome. This is said to be the first meeting house, Presbyterian, since the reformation in Ireland which is ornamented with a spire or dome. Necessity of building it arose from the increase of inhabitants in the neighbourhood linked to the linen industry combined with the distance from any other place of worship.
According to the Synod records, religious services in the village of Whiteabbey began in 1831 in a local school house due to the lack of churches between Carrickfergus and Belfast. Revd Dr Cooke canvassed the erection of a church in the area. The population voted and it was decided that the chosen congregation should be Presbyterian. The first minister, Mr William Campbell, was ordained in the church in November 1833. The original meeting house was built to designs by architects Miller, Smith, Duff, Jackson and McGuigan.
The church was extensively renovated in 1900, under the ministry of Revd Robert K Hanna, at a cost of £5000, to designs of Nicholas Fitzsimmons.