The Church of St. Mary and St. Bean at Marydale

The Church of Our Lady and Saint Bean was designed by architect Joseph Hansom, also associated with the hansom cab. As indicated by the date on the drainpipes the church was completed in 1866, together with the associated presbytery, school (now the Parish Hall), school-house and a walled garden.  The building was ‘C’ listed in 1971.

The church is dedicated to Saint Bean, believed to have come from Iona and to have been a cousin of Saint Columba, and replaced a number of earlier Roman Catholic churches and mass-houses in the strath located at Fasnakyle, Knockfin, Achnaheglish and Clachan Comar.

The church is built in the Gothic style, with lancet windows and an octagonal tower.  St. Bean, was traditionally the first missionary of Strathglass, to whom the earlier pre-reformation church at Clachan Comar was dedicated.

Father Colin Grant, later Bishop of Aberdeen, lived at Glassburn during the building works, and ‘sold off his cows and some furniture, and all the farm things’ to meet the cost of the buildings, although he could not stretch to a new bell before the Solemn Blessing (12th May, 1868).

In March 1929 the Church and the Presbytery were almost totally destroyed in a fire (seeimages below).  However with the financial assistance from expatriate Highlanders around the world they were rebuilt in a relatively short time and the Church reopened on 22nd October 1930.

The church at Marydale retains some relics of the old Highland mission, with a holy water stoup from Knockfin in the porch and, just outside the door, a cupstone, the Clach-a-bhaistidh, mounted on a plinth. This cupstone, traditionally used for baptisms in the glen from earliest times, was last used during the Jesuit mission, notably by Father John Farqharson S.J (Maghistair Iain) in the aftermath of Culloden when persecution of Catholics intensified.  Maghistair Iain is commemorated on the plinth.

Holy water font from Knockfin