Iona Parish Church
On the Island of Iona, east of the road to the Abbey, stands the Parish Church of Iona, which was built in 1828 to the design of the engineer Thomas Telford. The interior was redesigned in 1939 to make it what it is today. This was one of 32 ‘Parliamentary Churches’ (they were paid for with funds voted by Parliament) built across the Highlands and Islands to a standard design produced by Telford for a T-shaped church and an accompanying manse.
The Reformation in 1560 brought widespread destruction to Scotland. Iona lost its abbey, the nunnery and St Ronan’s Church, which had served as the island’s parish church since the 1200s. For the first time since St Columba’s arrival almost a thousand years earlier, the island’s community had no formal place for worship. This situation was alleviated by the erection of the current church in 1828.
However, the builders did not stick to Telford’s original design. The ‘leg’ of the T was omitted, and, as a result, the building is oblong. The pews were originally aligned lengthways to focus the congregation’s attention on the long communion table and the pulpit. The latter was built into the east wall between its two windows. However, the reorganisation in 1938 placed the pews across the church, and the pulpit and a smaller communion table at the south end.
Services are held in the church every Sunday at 12 noon in the summer and 11 am in the winter.
Short services are held on Tuesdays at 1pm and each weekday during high summer.
Grid Reference NM 285 242