Kinlochmoidart Episcopalian Church and Parsonage

Memories recalled by Canon John Wild, one-time incumbent of several summer-chaplaincies during the 1930s,
contributed by Frances Impey and collated by Tim Roberton

………My father first went to Kinlochmoidart about 1900, having been brought to the Parsonage by an Oxford Colleague Dr. E.M. Walker. After that he went there regularly for many years and would go nowhere else for his annual holiday.

My mother, whose maiden name was Christian Severn, used to stay with her father, an artist, with the Blackburns in Roshven.

My parents met in 1902, when no doubt my mother would have come over with the Roshven party. They were married in 1903 and thereafter they went to the Parsonage for a month almost every summer, except during the War years until 1925, when my father’s health was deteriorating.

The family grew and eventually I had three brothers and a sister. The Parsonage had a rowing boat at the Pier, but expeditions on Loch Moidart were a rare treat because the weather had to be fine and the tide right, at the same time. We went to Castle Tioram and a beautiful sandy bay beyond and very occasionally out by the North Channel.

The Parsonage boat was old and not very seaworthy and on those occasions when the tide was suitably high in the morning, my father as “captain of the ship” took us out and kept an anxious eye open for the weather and for the height of water in the North Channel above the stepping-stones. After our trips we had to draw the boat back up above the high-water mark at the High Pier and return the oars and the rowlocks and the bailer to the shop, where Mr. Macdonald stored them.

After I was ordained in 1928, I went to the Parsonage in 1931, 34 and 35, which was the last year in which I took duty in the Church.

The church was originally built by the Macdonalds of Kinlochmoidart House and was attended by a resident Incumbent. When the Stewarts bought the estate and built the new house, the parish became a summer chaplaincy, and Mrs. JC Stewart invited clergy to take the duty. Up to about 1930, Mr. Stewart attended the Morning Service dressed in a kilt, he read the lesson and took the collection.

He walked to the church along the Prince’s Walk but unfortunately after 1930 became paralysed. Instead of going to Edinburgh for the winter, the Stewarts now lived permanently at Kinlochmoidart.

Mrs Stewart became a Roman Catholic, but she still organized the rote of the chaplains. Gradually the Parsonage deteriorated, as Mr. Macdonald of the estate staff was no longer sent to do maintenance and repairs.

During the War 39-45 it was occupied by the Army, and afterwards was left in very poor condition. By 1947, the house was derelict with holes in the roof.

Looking back, in the old days, just before the 1914 war (and afterwards up to about 1920), Mrs. McVicar (nee Macdonald) of Eilean Shona used to come to the Church every Sunday. She was rowed by two men from Shona to the Low Pier where a carriage met her and she was brought to the church, where she played the harmonium. She had very thick glasses.

Miss Blackburn too, rode regularly from Roshven to attend the church going by the Glenuig path and the steep climb over Plate Rock. She stabled her horse at the farm and after the service, used to have lunch at the Parsonage. Sometimes she attended evensong at three, before riding back over the hill.

Other random memories include the whole family being invited to the big house for tea once a month; My parents were also occasionally invited separately to dinner and a piper walked around the table. But Mr. Stewart did not send a carriage and they had to walk from the Parsonage in their evening clothes……

Extracted from copy letters contributed by Frances Impey 2014