Kilmore Church appeal for urgent funds

Posted on: 6th April 2020

A local church with a long association with the Macdonald family has launched an appeal for essential funds. The congregation of Kilmore Church in Sleat, Skye, is raising money to replace its windows, which are in very poor condition. The church has been very cold and uncomfortable during the winter for a number of years now, and is becoming potentially unsafe.

Clan Donald Lands Trust has been pleased to donate £1000 towards the appeal. To find out how you can donate visit the church’s fundraising page.

Macdonald connections

A strong connection between Kilmore Church and the Macdonald family has existed through the centuries.  In the 1600s, the Old Church (the ruin which can be seen in the Churchyard) was built by Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat.  This church was visited in 1773 by Dr Samuel Johnson James Boswell on their Tour of the Hebrides, who were delighted with the marble monument erected by Lady Margaret Macdonald in memory of her son, Sir James Macdonald.

The Old Church was in constant use until 1874 when the building was condemned as being unsafe.  The minister and presbytery appealed to the heritor and on 7 May 1874 Ronald Archibald, 6th Baron Macdonald, agreed to the building of a new church. This church, our current building, opened its doors for the first time in 1876.

Entering the church one is immediately struck by the number of monuments, and in particular the two splendid marble memorials on either side of the pulpit.  The one on the left is the monument to Sir James Macdonald which was originally erected in the Old Church.  That on the right marks the deaths of members of the Macdonald family around the middle of the 19th century.  A number of these deaths were of children who died in infancy – a stark reminder that in those days infant mortality was high even in more privileged families.

There are further smaller memorials to members of the Macdonald family in the church, including one marking the deaths of the three sons of Lord and Lady Macdonald who lost their lives, one in the Boer War and two in the First World War.

Older members of the congregation remember Sir Alexander Macdonald and his family occupying the family pew in Kilmore Church every Sunday and the prominent role he played as a Kirk elder.

In death as in life, the Macdonald link with Kilmore Church and its churchyard continued.  Behind the Old Church there stands a substantial stone building, a mausoleum, where the remains of several past Chiefs lie entombed.

Church appeal

The congregation plans to replace the currently single glazed windows with special double glazing which will retain the original look of the windows, as required by the planners. Listed building consent has been granted.

To retain this building and to keep it fit for purpose for the community, the Kilmore Fabric Committee has been tasked with raising the sum of £104,500 for the purchase and fitting of all the windows. Applications have gone out to various funds and grant-making bodies and it is also hoped that the community of Sleat and beyond can help in raising around £20,000 towards the total. Such pledges are required to show other funders that there is local support and will widen the opportunities for alternative funding.

Members of the church congregation are very grateful for any donations towards this ambitious but necessary project.

Contact details are available on the Strath & Sleat Church of Scotland website.