Laggan Free Church-A Ruin in Scotland’s Cairngorms

Like The White Bridge that I wrote about last week, today’s post features another amazing, serendipitous find.  Scotland certainly does seem to be full of those.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, Mr. C and I were driving through the southwest portion of the Cairngorms National Park near the village of Laggan. 

A stormy sky over a green field and a tree stump.
A stormy sky moving in over the Scottish Highlands.

We had just turned onto General Wade’s Military Road from the A86 when we spotted the fantastic ruins of a church to our left.  Naturally, we pulled over to check it out.

The ruins of Laggan Free Church.
The spire on Laggan Free Church against a blue sky with white clouds.
The ruins of Laggan Free Church.
An arched doorway at Laggan Free Church.

Sadly, there was no information posted, and the only clue was a sign on the road for something called ‘The Monarch.’ It appeared to refer to the house sitting across the yard from the church. That evening, I did a Google search (what in the world were our lives like before the internet?) to discover more information. Though I couldn’t find a date for the church’s construction, I learned that what we had seen were the ruins of the Laggan Free Church (Free Church being an evangelical and reformed branch of the Presbyterian Church).

The ruins of Laggan Free Church against a blue sky.
Laggan Free Church ruin.
Laggan Free Church ruins.

And as for the Monarch, it does, in fact, occupy the same property as the ruin. It was recently run as a country hotel but is now permanently closed. Interestingly, the home-turned-inn was at one time, the church manse (parsonage).

I would so love to know more about Laggan Free Church. When was it built? Why was it abandoned? Was a newer, shinier version built somewhere nearby? Why is the steeple and entry more intact than the rest of the ruin? Did it suffer a fire? Did it just weather away from disuse? All questions my curious mind would like to know the answers to! Perhaps I will never know.

The doorway to the ruined Laggan Free Church.

Incidentally, before I wrap things up for today, I want to mention a great little cafe that we stumbled upon shortly after we had left the church. It’s called Caoldair Coffee and Craft Shop. Located on General Wade’s Military Road about a half-mile or so from the ruin, it’s a lovely shop that sells (as their sign says) coffee, cakes, clothing, and other yummy things. Right they are. Another terrific find. Did we buy anything? Why yes. Yes we did. As for me, I left with a very lovely plumb tart. Mr. C ended up with a very nice hat.

A sign for a coffee shop in Scotland.

Until next time, friends.


11 thoughts on “Laggan Free Church-A Ruin in Scotland’s Cairngorms

  • A bit of history for you:

    1785, partially re-built and probably raised, 1842. Tall rectangular grey granite rubble church with tooled granite ashlar dressings.

    Entrances in outer bays of long north elevation, masked at NW by shallow gabled porch with round-headed doorway.

    3 long round-headed windows in south elevation, and similarly headed (1842) pair in slightly advanced centre bay of east gable with oculus above. Shallow advanced centre in west gable with pair centre round-headed lancets and similar fenstration in outer bays; both gable heads break above saw-toothed skews, terminating at west with bellcote and at east with finial. Lattice pane glazing, with some coloured decoration in east windows; slate roof.

    Interior; entrance lobby floored with local pottery tiles (c. 1982).

    Tall galleried re-cast interior (1842) with galleries supported on long sides by wooden cluster columns rising to ceiling and terminating in crude scalloped capitals. Hexagonal pulpit sited between east gable windows, mounted above semi-circular clerk’s desk with narrow back-board and hexagonal sounding-board; stairs serving clerk’s desk and pulpit on either side.

    Burial Ground. Large burial ground surrounded by rubble wall with shaped tooled rubble cope.

    Pair square tooled rubble gate piers with ball finials supported by attenuated stems. Pair cast-iron spearhead carriage gates.

  • Sorry- I know this is a couple weeks of years ago- but would love to know any info on that church as my grandad and Nan got married there. X

  • Hi Linda! Thank you of your comment. You might find the information posted by Andy at Stravaiging Around Scotland helpful. If you look in the comments that have been posted on this blog, you will see a link that he shared with me detailing some of the history. Unfortunately, I don’t know any more than this. How lovely that your grandparents married there!

  • Hi. I contacted the Laggan Heritage and got some information about the church .
    It was built in 1857 (the Church of Scotland nearby was built in 1786).
    It closed when the Reverend Paterson retired as the congregation was falling. It was then brought by Reverend Johnston who rented the Manse (ministers house) out to people . He then sold it ,and stipulated in the sake that the church must be demolished if it is not used by new owner. They took the roof tiles,roof timbers, burnt the interior and took the granite from the walls.
    So there you go, that’s why it’s a ruin now , which I find really sad and don’t understand why they had to demolish it like that .

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