Church of Scotland
Parish of Toward & Inverchaolain
Scottish Charity No: SC015531
All images are copyright property of either Historic Scotland or the individual photographer.
Inverchaolain Church has been sold to a private buyer. However its web pages on this site will be retained showing it as it was prior to the sale.
Please note that public access to the graveyards (old & new) remains unchanged.
Inverchaolain church lies almost at the end of a single track road along the shore of Loch Striven. Given its remote location it enjoyed a surprising number of visitors. Typically visitors numbered in the hundreds each year.
One can only surmise this is due to the peace and solitude found at this site upon which numerous people have commented.
Some questions have been asked many times over the years so I thought a FAQ section might help.
Q Does the Church of Scotland own the graveyards (old & new).
A No. An act of parliment in 1925 transferred ownership to local councils. In this case Argyll & Bute Council.
Q Who maintains the graveyards.
A Argyll & Bute Council, Milton House, Dunoon PA23 7DX, Tel: 01369 708600
Q Who maintains gravestones etc.
A Argyll & Bute Council maintain the grounds (eg cut the grass etc), however the gravestones and enclosed plots remain the responsibility of individual families. Please see the "Pictures of Inverchaolain" page for a picture of the Clan Lamont enclosed plot which demonstrates what is, and what is not, maintained by the Council.
Q Are burial records held by local churches.
A No. In the first instance please contact Argyll & Bute Council. If you do not have any success then try the Church of Scotland Administration Head Office in Edinburgh, 0131 225 5722. Another possible source would be the National Archives of Scotland.
History of Inverchaolain Church:
The name Inverchaolain is derived from the Gaelic words "Inbhir-chaol-a(bha)inn" meaning "the mouth of the narrow stream" It is very descriptive and appropriate given that the church is close to the mouth of a narrow stream. The name Inverchaolain is pronounced Inver-hoolain
Before the Reformation, the Parish Church of Inverchaolain was situated on the side of the hill, about 200 yards above the present church. It was dedicated to Saint Bride, or Bridget, Abbess of Kildare in Ireland who lived 467 - 525. In Scotland the following of this Saint was extensive, and dedications to her are numerous, especially in those parts of Scotland nearest to Ireland. She is commemorated on the first day of February.
In the early days of the patronage of the Patronage of Inverchaolain belonged to the Chiefs of Clan Lamont, but during the infancy of one of these his guardian wrongfully granted the patronage to the Monastery of Failefurd, in Ayrshire, a community of Trinitarians, or Trinity Friars, whose Order was instituted by Saint John of Malta in 1198. Their office was to redeem slaves, especially Christians, from Turks. This Order possessed 14 Monasteries in Scotland, but Inverchaolain seems to have been their only church in Argyllshire. On the 20th July, 1465, Pope Paul II restored the patronage to John Lamont of Inveryne.
The first church here after the Reformation was built by a man who had dreamed that he would find a treasure in a certain spot in the parish, and was commanded to build a church upon "Crochdan in Airy", but the treasure became exhausted and the church remained unslated for many years. The second church was built in 1745 (the year of the 2nd Jacobite Rising), and "almost re-built" in 1759, the population of the Parish being then 944. The 3rd church was built in 1812, and destroyed by fire on Sunday, 9th April, 1911. The present, or 4th, church was built in 1912, and opened on 27th October of that year.
Brief History of the Clan Lamont:
The Lamont family are thought to have ruled in Cowal in the Norse period 800 - 1150 AD and derive their name from the Norse "Lagman" or "Lawman". Their main lands were around Kilfinan on Loch Fyne and here at Toward. They were first known as the Lamonts of Inveryne, from their residence near Kilfinan. The Barony of Inveryne was created by a crown charter in 1472 confirming John Lawmond and his male heirs in the title. The Tower House at Toward was built at this time.