St Kilda’s Church, Lochbuie
Standing on the shores of Lochbuie, on a rough road leading east from the old post office towards Lochbuie House, is a small Episcopal church consecrated to St Kilda in 1876.
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The story goes that this church was apparently built by Maclaine of Lochbuie after having had a serious disagreement with the minister of Kinlochspelve over the minister’s habit of herding his ducks on to Loch Uisg and thus spoiling the fishing. Another reason could be that the Laird married a lady who attended the Scottish Episcopal Church. The church was originally going to be consecrated to St Oran, but he was not considered a worthy enough saint. There are various monuments in the church to members of the Maclaine family and others associated with this part of the island. Also, several beautiful and interesting stained glass windows can be seen, depicting St Kilda, St Oran and St Columba, with another dedicated to the Cheape family of Carsaig and Tiroran.
The late Reverend Canon T. Hannan of Musselburgh compiled the following notes:
‘St Kilda is regarded by some as a mythical personage, because the name is only found in connection with the Island of which the proper name is Hirta. But the ancient well on the Island with the name Tobar Childer – Well of Kilda – indicates a Norse saint of male sex, probably a hermit, the spelling of whose name should be St Kildar. This is the accepted view.
An interesting object is the Celtic Cross built into the wall of the porch on the right – the south wall. This was unearthed at a considerable depth when digging the foundations of the present church. There is no tradition of a chapel or burying found on the site, which is an indication of the remoteness of the burial. The Cross is of the simplest and earliest form, and may be more than 800 years old.’
The cross is of yellow sandstone probably from Carsaig. The top is missing and the outline of the cross is incised, the bottom of the shaft being left open. A shallow groove has been cut round the centre of the ring, but the angles at the intersection of the arms are more deeply hollowed.
The Crucifix above the Chancel was carved by Joseph Maye, who played the part of Christ 114 times in the Oberammergau Passion Play. He died on 1st December 1903. The late Maclaine of Lochbuie bought this Crucifix and had it placed in its present position.
In the wall to the right of the altar is a piece of the altar of the church of Merry-le-Hart in Metz, the slab that covered the relics of a Bishop of Metz who died in 1851. The church was fired by the retreating French troops in 1870 and a French priest rushed into the burning church, broke the covering slab and rescued the relic. The late Maclaine of Lochbuie acquired the piece, he being at the time the war-correspondent with the German Army for the London newspaper, The Times.
The population of Lochbuie is very small and it is not possible to have a resident priest for this church, because there are no funds to support him, but services are held regularly during the summer months by visiting clergy. Even the upkeep of the Church and Parsonage are a considerable burden on so small a congregation. Visitors, are requested to help by placing a contribution – no matter how small – in the box and by remembering St Kilda’s Lochbuie in their prayers.
The church is always open.
We thank Jim Corbett the laird of Lochbuie for his kind help and assistance in showing us around and allowing the church to be included on this website.
Grid Reference NM 609 248