St Colmac's Church
St Colmac's Church

Standing beside the B875 a few miles west of Port Bannatyne, immediately west of the North Bute Cemetery, are the roofless ruins of a 19th-century Neo-Gothic church begun around 1836 by the 2nd Marquess of Bute, possibly to a design by architect James Dempster. Eight years later in 1846, St Colmac's Church became the North Bute Parish Church.

The church and nearby manse were built at the same time, for a combined cost of £6,000.

Unusually for the time, the design retained a long communion pew with bench seating.

The three-stage neo-Gothic tower
The three-stage neo-Gothic tower

When the free churches of Scotland merged in 1929 the church name was altered to St Colmac's.

Gradual depopulation and a lack of funds to maintain the deteriorating building led to the church's closure in 1980 and the roof was removed shortly after. It now stands as a shell immediately north of the road. In 2007 an application was made to convert the church shell into a dwelling, but this application was later withdrawn.

The church is surrounded by a large burial ground dotted with an impressive array of 19th and 20th-century memorials. In the burial ground are buried seven seamen who lost their lives when their ship was torpedoed in Rothesay Bay in the early days of the war. This incident is mentioned online in only one source, and I've been unable to find out more details.

The church from the east
The church from the east

The design is intriguing; it is three bays long and two stages high, with a striking three-stage belfry tower at the east end. Almost none of the original opaque glazing remains.

Immediately across the road is the Cnoc an Rath circular earthwork, and 800m west at East Colmac Farm is the early medieval cross slab known as the St Colmac Cross.

A certain popular travel website confuses St Colmac's Church with the early Christian site of Kilmichael Chapel, north of Ettrick Bay. Don't be fooled!

Celtic-style cross in the churchyard
Celtic-style cross in the churchyard

Getting There

The church is approximately 300m west of the junction of the A844 and B875, on the northern side of the road. There is a very small unofficial layby at the bend in the road opposite the east end of the church, and a wide verge near the church's west end. As far as we can determine, the churchyard is open daylight hours. You can't enter the building for safety reasons, but it is well worth a few minutes exploring the churchyard and examining the architectural details.

Most photos are available for licensing, please contact Britain Express image library.

About St Colmac's Church
Address: Colmac Bridge, B875, St Colmac, Bute, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, PA20 0QT
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Just west of the B875 junction with the A844 at Colmac Bridge. Parking along the verge.
Website: St Colmac's Church
Location map
OS: NS053673
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS

Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

St Colmac Cottages Stone Circle - 0.6 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Bute Museum - 1.1 miles (Museum) Heritage Rating

Ettrick Bay - 1.2 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Craigberoch Standing Stone - 2.6 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

Rothesay's Victorian Toilets - 2.6 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Rothesay Castle - 2.8 miles (Castle) Heritage Rating

Rothesay, St Mary's Chapel - 3 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Cairnbaan Chambered Cairn - 3.2 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating



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