KC-000 - Kilmorich Church

The stone plaque on the tower dates it MDCCCXVI (1816.)  It stands within the village of Cairndow on the right bank of the river Kinglas.

The village is called Cairndow, the parish is Kilmorich. As mentioned in the article on the old Kilmorich Burial ground the mediaeval church was at Clachan, on the other side of the Loch (and there may also have been another early church on this side but further North)

Sir Alexander Livingstone, owner of Ardkinglas Estate, had commissioned plans for a new Church, which were approved in 1811. But he had died in 1810 and there followed several years of negotiations.  In January 1816, a contract was entered into with Andrew McKindley, builder, Colgrain, Dunbartonshire, and work was completed that year.  It is one of only two churches in Scotland, (the other being in Dalmally), to be built with an interesting hexagonal shape.

George Paul son of Dugald Paul, Innkeeper, was the first person to be interred in Kilmorich Churchyard in 1817.

James Henry Callander’s gravestone is among the four relatively elaborate gravestones at the front of the church. Henry was the great grandson of Mary Livingstone, Sir Alexander’s sister.  Henry’s daughter Janey Sevilla is also named on the memorial (she was married to Lord Archibald, brother of the 9th Duke of Argyll). The Callanders were owners of Ardkinglas estate until it was sold to Sir Andrew Noble in 1905

In 1961 the Church underwent extensive renovation work, in consultation with Ian Lindsay architect.  Its simple style and colours are admired by many. The pulpit ‘fall’ was designed and woven by Dovecot Tapestries and donated by the Noble family.

Old Sir Andrew Noble used to sit at the fireside in the ‘Lairds’Gallery. Many of his descendants have sat there since, although the fire has not been lit for many years.

The present Font was made in 1956 by Archie McVicar, who had been head mason on Ardkinglas Estate for many years, and was a long time elder of the church here.

The organ was donated by Charles M. Black in 1969; he was a Lay Preacher from Dunoon who helped out when required.    A new organ was purchased from a woman in Inellan in 1994.

In 1990 an ancient font, once the font at the old kirk at Clachan, was found at Inveraray Castle.  It was retrieved back to Kilmorich and is mounted on a stand in the hallway.

Today (2021) as for many parishes the congregation is small, six regulars. The Minister is the Reverent Robin MacKenzie from Strachur.  He is also the Minster in Lochgoilhead and Strathlachlan. He takes the service every fortnight.  The church is filled only for funerals and weddings – some people from elsewhere chose to be married in the church here as the building and the surroundings are so pretty.

At present the elders are Nigel Callander, Roddy MacDiarmid, and Alastair MacCallum.

Over the years the church has been well looked after and a relatively new heating system kept the worst of the damp at bay. However, having had to be closed without any heating for the last eighteen months, due to the covid pandemic, the damp has had an impact on paint and plaster.  Once more funds will have to be sourced for its preservation.

There is concern at the moment because there is little space in the graveyard.  Negotiations to extend it are underway with the landowners.

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