Another one for the “Abandoned” Series today – and a slightly different subject for this one, too! Those of you who watched the “Restoration Man” Series on the television might remember that one of the properties they showed was an old abandoned church on the Island of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides. Well this is effectively it’s “twin” – just a few miles South on North Uist, at Trumisgarry.
(Excuse the jaunty angle in the shot above – the old Manse still stands next door, and is inhabited, and without going into their garden I couldn’t get further back than this to take the shot – even our widest lens was having none of this size of building!)
This building is a “Parliamentary Church” – Designed by Thomas Telford following an Act of Parliament in 1832 providing Grants for the building of churches and manses in communities without any church buildings. Of the 43 churches originally planned, 32 were built around the Scottish Highlands and Islands – including this one and the one up on Berneray (There were originally others in Harris & Lewis also – those have now been demolished, however.)
They were designed as a deliberately simple, T-shaped structure – solidly yet cost-effectively built, with – for the time – very simple windows and just two doors. Some of the windows in this building still have their glass, although the roof has completely gone (and the timbers from it been “recycled” presumably, as there is no sign of them inside!) and all that remains is the stone and metalwork.
In order to make best use of the Church it doubled for a while as a school – I should have imagined this would have been a mighty uncomfortable place to take your lessons – especially in the depths of winter! It ceased to be used as a place of worship in 1941, and has been steadily falling into dereliction ever since.
Although simple it’s a remarkably beautiful structure – anyone who saw the programme showing what was done with the one on Berneray will know this already. Sadly I suspect this one is doomed to stay as it is – with the Manse next door already having people living in it it’s unlikely that anyone looking for permission to renovate this one would be allowed as the two properties are, as you would expect, right next to one another.