Ambitious plan for historic Highland church

The leaders of a Highland church have unveiled exciting new plans to “breathe new life” into the historic building.

Inverallan Church - L-R John Wilson, Rev Gordon Strang, Liz Lynch, Ian Brown and Bill Steele. Photograph by Frances Porter.

Inverallan Parish Church in Grantown is to be given a radical makeover to ensure it is fit for purpose for the 21st century.

The project is expected to take around three years to complete and cost between £800,000 and £1million.

Minister Rev Gordon Strang said office bearers wanted to make the B-listed church, which dates back to 1886, the centre of community life once again.

The Inverallan 20/20 draft plans, which were put on public display last week, include transforming the interior entrance, creating a new balcony and foyer pod, installing a catering kitchen, toilets, storage and potentially a ground floor café.

Glass would be used extensively to allow light into the building and show the best of its architectural beauty.

Community benefit

A large, bright, flexible lounge area with a view over the whole church would be created in addition to multi-purpose areas for worship, a children’s and youth work area, community meeting rooms and offices.

The draft plans also include provision for a flexible worship and performance space that can seat more than 300 people.

The pews would be removed from the church, gifted to the town by the then Countess of Seafield, and replaced with freestanding chairs– a common practice in church refurbishment projects across Scotland.

Mr Strang said: “The church is the biggest building in Strathspey apart from hotels and the time has come to make better use of it to benefit the whole community.

"It is big and difficult to use for anything other than traditional worship.

"We've been looking for ways to make it more flexible, versatile and user friendly, breathing new life into it.

"The vision is for a place that will serve the whole community in a way that gives them a sense of ownership and a desire to play a part in what happens there."

Inverallan Church
3D image of refurbished Inverallan Parish Church courtesy of Cormack Gracie Architects.

Mr Strang said the ambitious plans put on public display were the result of a feasibility study and mark the beginning of the project.

He added that the next step of the process was to sift through suggestions made by the public and apply for funding from grant awarding bodies to supplement money raised through fund raising activities.

Mr Strang said: “We want the church to be the centre of community life and the feedback we have received from people so far has been very positive, which is great,” he added.

“We had around 70 people through the door to view the exhibition, including our constituency MSP Fergus Ewing, and we got a lot of good suggestions about what the town needs.”