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Lochdon Free Church

When the Free Church was formed in 1843, the people of Lochdon became strong supporters of this faith after the visit of two ministers from the mainland who were on a tour to explain the state of church affairs following The Disruption.  They preached to a congregation of between 300 and 400 people at the bridge at Lochdonhead and, afterwards, this area became the largest concentration of Free Church sympathizers on the island.  Campbell of Possil, who was their landlord, refused to give them any land on which to build a church, so, to begin with, they met in a lean-to-shed lent by John McKane, the local blacksmith.  He was then threatened with eviction by Campbell, so they then met in a tent in a gravel pit near the bridge.  Sometime later the church met in the home of Donald Fletcher, a road contractor in Torosay, as he had a lease and could not be evicted. Many leaders of the Free Church movement were intellectuals of the community, but had to do more manual jobs when they ‘came out’. 

During the famine that followed, Campbell provided work for the community by building the road to Ardchoirk, but he also evicted those who were completely impoverished.  Consequently, after his death, when his son, John, offered them land, they could not raise enough money to build a church.  However, money was raised by Mrs Campbell of Possil, with the help of her sisters-in-law, and the church was built in 1852 just above the ‘gravel pit’ on the shore. 

The church is rectangular in shape, and built of uneven and irregular, basalt stone, faced with cement.  The roof is of grey slate and there is a small bell-tower at the western end. 

The interior walls are wood paneled to the window level and then painted to the ceiling.  There is an interesting plain wooden pulpit, which is edged with blue velvet and a gold fringe. 

In the graveyard there are only four graves, which date between 1860 and 1881. 

When the United Free Church was established in 1900 the church became the United Free Church of Torosay and Salen.  On the 14th January 1930 it was united with Torosay Parish Church and they worked closely together. 

By 1964 the church was being used less often and it was suggested that the building be turned into a church hall.  Nothing was done until December 1968, when the Kirk Session decided that services could no longer be held and they would sell the building and graveyard.  Five months later it was sold to the Free Church of Scotland.

At present there is no permanent minister, so the church is open only when a service can be held. 

For more information see:

  • Currie, J, Mull the Island and its People, 2000
  • Willie Orr, W, Discovering Argyll Mull & Iona, 1990