A bit of our drive up to Oban was spent alongside Loch Awe- a beautiful loch surrounded by lush growth and charming villages. We'd seen Loch Awe before, but it still inspired a response akin to its name.
What I wasn't expecting was to see a kirk (church) nestled alongside the loch- just off the road, but nearly covered by a patch of trees. I managed to see the sign "St. Conan's Kirk", and jotted it down on my post-it as a stop on our way back.
Cue two days later... and St. Conan's Kirk was our first stop after leaving Oban.
There is a small area next to the road that would fit only 2-3 cars. From there we walked up to the kirk, and I was already getting excited.
For a bit of the kirk's history: in the 1870s, a man named Walter Douglas Campbell bought the Island of Innischonan and built a mansion on it for himself, his sister, and his mother. According to the lore, the elder Mrs. Campbell found the drive to the closest parish church in Dalmally to be too far- so her loving son decided to build her a church closer.
Beginning in 1881, Walter Campbell designed St. Conan's himself, with his architecture inspired by nearly all ecclesiastic periods in Scotland's past. Campbell used local workers and mostly local materials- the stones themselves are boulders rolled to the site, rather than quarried blocks.
The work was delayed by the two World Wars, and then by Campbell's death in 1914. Helen, his sister, carried on his work until her death thirteen years later. A group of Trustees saw to the culmination of the project in 1930.
The view that took my breath away.
The communion table sits in the center of the apse.
The nave, looking towards the South aisle.
An odd rose window!
An effigy of Robert the Bruce, complete with a bone fragment from Dumferline Abbey. The window here, overlooking the loch, was originally in St. Mary's Church, South Leith. Built in 1483, St. Mary's was rebuilt four hundred years later and this west window was removed to Edinburgh as a garden ornament. Campbell incorporated it, along with a handful of other artifacts, in his building.
I couldn't get enough of this magnificent ambulatory!
A painting of the chancel hangs there- and is just as beautiful!
Chancel and nave, from near the communion table.
Campbell's Dolphin chairs, believed to have come from abroad.
Two wrought-iron gates herald the Lymphads of Lorne, part of Scotland's historic heraldry.
The cloister garth, a peaceful and lovely place. Paul wants one.
An aisle of the cloister.
The exterior of the loch-side of the kirk. See the owls?
A very strange rabbit, too...
The loch side of the kirk.
One last view...