Update: Outdoor sermon

Three blog posts in one day – this must be a record!

In late September, Katie Anne posted this photo:

Outdoor Sermon

At the time, we didn’t know where it was and Katie Anne appealed for your help.  By chance, Norrie Macgregor of Stornoway Historical Society was in our office on another matter and happened to see the picture and casually mentioned that it was taken in Stornoway just by the TA drill hall.   The house you can see is Seaforth House which has been modernised into flats.  This caused a rare moment of quiet and calm in the office as we all stared at him in wonder as we’d been scratching our head about it all morning! 

The image is reproduced in Douglas Ansdell’s “The People of Great Faith: the Highland Church 1690-1900” (Acair, 1998) and the sermon is a gathering of the seceders, who held open air sermons before they were given land by Lady Matheson in 1895 to build a church. 

So, a mystery solved!

***UPDATE 25.11.10 UPDATE***

Norrie Macgregor popped in again with his apologies about the above, apparently he was slightly out when giving us the location of the outdoor sermon.  According to the Eilean an Fraoch annual from 1957, where a drawing of the photograph is reproduced, the sermon actually occured in an area behind the museum on Francis Street, Stornoway.  It was taken when the Museum was still a Free Church school and the service took place on the school’s playground.  The house you see in the background was demolished and would have sat where Haldane Court now is.  This makes it seem unlikely that it was a seceder gathering, given it was Free Church land.  If you have any more information let us know! 

About David Powell

Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar
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