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History


The following information is based on a report produced in 1970 to  celebrate the centenary of the present Avoch Parish Church Building.

The Present Church was built in 1870, replacing that of 1670, which  was itself, a successor to a medieval building. The previous two  churches, which were built in a North to South direction, were  destroyed by fire. The present church is built with its axis oriented in  an East to West direction and it has been suggested that the change  in direction may result in better fortune.

The Church is famous for it's beautiful stained glass windows, which  were made by Barnett of Newcastle. The congregation subscribed for  the east windows on either side of the pulpit; the window on the left  depicts the Adoration of the Christ Child and that on the right, the  Death of Christ after the Crucifixion. The round window above the  pulpit depicts the Ascension of Christ surrounded by the Angels. The  Gloriously coloured panels and text of the west window are  illustrations of the Beatitudes. There are four small white roses in the  small triangle-shaped which are thought to represent the white rose of  Rosehaugh Estate. Mr. James Fletcher, the Laird of Rosehaugh  donated this window when the Church was built in 1870.

Many years ago a young painter of Avoch sign-painted "The  Beatitudes" as well as the Lords Prayer in gold on the rear pulpit wall  facing the congregation.

The Vestry has within its walls signs of great antiquity in the form of a  Roman Catholic wine repository or Sacrament House. There are  various theories as to the source of the Sacrament House it may have  come from the Chapel of Our Lady in Ormonde Castle Avoch, or been  provided by the Abbey of Kinloss which had appropriated Avoch  Parish Church in the Middle Ages or it may have been retained from  the first Avoch Church. James III created his second son, also James (born 1476), Marquis of  Ormond at his baptism; he granted him the Lordship of Ardmeneach  in 1481, and elevated him to the Dukedom of Ross in 1487. This  same, Marquis of Ormond resigned his lands, except Ormond, in  1502, having become 'an ecclesiastic' (Douglas 1813, 416; Origins  Parochiales, II, ii (1855), 542-4).  In the Middle Ages Avoch Parish Church was one of those that had  been appropriated by the Cistercian Abbey of Kinloss on the south  side of the Moray Firth. Abbot Thomas Crystall is known to have  repaired it during his incumbency at Kinloss (1504-28) (Kinloss Recs  xlvi, xlix; Cowan 1981, 92), but whether these building activities  included the provision of the Sacrament House at Avoch is not  recorded.   Pullen and Brayshaw, in their brief history of the church in the Black  Isle, state that in 1670 the church 'was rebuilt under Episcopal rule'  and that the Sacrament House was retained from the 'ancient church',  but give no indication of the source of this information (1927, 9). 

The bell that summons villagers to Church on Sundays may also be an  antique. It is said that when Cromwell's men desecrated Fortrose  Cathedral, the bells were put on the deck of a ship for shipment to  Inverness. The ship ran into a storm en route and the bells were lost  overboard. One was later trawled up in a fisherman's net and installed  in the belfry of the rebuilt Parish Church. It is said the bell is inscribed  with the words ‘Mine name is Anna’

Sir Alexander Mackenzie and James Douglas Fletcher were great  benefactors to the community. Mr Fletcher donated the Moderator's  Chair and the Communion Table.  The vaults of the famous explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie and family  and the Fletcher Rosehaugh family are in the churchyard. 

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