Fasnakyle Free Church
The church was designed by Inverness architects Matthews & Laurie and completed in 1868 with seating for 600. Early Ministers were the Rev. Patrick Tulloch and the Rev. Colin Fraser followed by the long serving Rev. Colin Campbell MacKenzie who served the Strathglass congregations of the Free Church and then the United Free Church (after 1900) until his death in 1907 – a total of twenty seven years.
In April 1881 the ownership of nearby Turnerhall was transferred to the Free Church and became the Free Church Manse. Turnerhall was built by David Jamie a bobbin manufacturer from Brechin. A bobbin mill was situated just to the east of the hall but there appears to be no trace of it today. Available records suggest the house and mill originated from around 1862 when the land was leased from The Chisholm. By 1871 Mr Jamie was employing twenty men and two boys manufacturing bobbins. The mill was steam powered and was almost destroyed by fire in 1872 but continued operating till 1881.
In September 1881 Rev. MacKenzie married Catherine Ferguson, daughter of a Free Church minister at Halkirk in Caithness. Over the next twenty years the Rev. and Mrs Mackenzie had seven children all born at the Manse. Unfortunately in 1900 one of their daughters Georgina Catherine died from tuberculosis aged just 12 years.
On the 31st October 1900 the Free Church joined with the United Presbyterian Church to form the United Free Church of Scotland. Rev. MacKenzie and most of the Fasnakyle congregation entered the union but some did not and after a protracted legal battle, the House of Lords found in favour of the minority and awarded them the right to keep the name Free Church of Scotland, though the majority was able to keep most of the financial resources. In Strathglass the Free Church retained Fasnakyle Church and the Manse while the former Free Church at Struy, where Rev. MacKenzie now preached, was recognised as an asset of the United Free Church. (More on Rev. MacKenzie in the section on the Struy Church).
The membership of Fasnakyle Free Church steadily declined during the 20th century and with it the fabric of the building. The last wedding to take place was in the mid 1960s and due to the condition of the building services were held in the vestry. In the early part of this century the church was sold privately to someone who has invested heavily in transforming the fabric of the building back to what it was like almost a hundred years ago.
The ‘Old Manse’ as it is known locally was also sold off in 1969 becoming a shooting lodge for one of the sporting estates. Regular clay pigeon shoots are held there to raise money for charity.
One final twist in the tale……at Fasnakyle Church there is a single grave that gives no detail as to who is buried there. However folklore suggests that a former minister buried one of his children in the grounds of the church much to the displeasure of his superiors. Is this the resting place of Georgina Catherine MacKenzie? Maybe one day we will find out.
Fasnakyle Free Church late 1990s
Fasnakyle Free Church today
Fasnakyle Manse early 1900s
The Old Manse today