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Publication Account

Date 1995

Event ID 1016685

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


One of the parliamentary churches designed by Thomas Telford, but better known for its connection with the Clearances, the church shelters in a belt of trees in the empty strath. It is still in use, but the single-storey parliamentary manse just up the road is now a private house.

The harled church is built to the usual T-plan with a small belfry, cast-iron latticed windows and two doors, but with no provision for galleries. It is one of the very few parliamentary churches with its original fittings intact, the pews with a long communion table in front facing the pulpit and the reader's desk, which are flanked by the box pews for the elders and the manse.

One of the best documented Clearances took place here, witnessed by a Times reporter. Already in 1840 a number of families had emigrated from the district to Pictou, Canada, in a ship chartered by their minister, the Rev R Williamson, so that the new minister found 'ruined homesteads and a depopulated parish'. In May 1845 James Gillander, factor to Major Charles Robertson of Kindeace, evicted 18 families from Glencalvie, 92 people in all, to make way for a new sheep farm. Unlike those cleared in Sutherland, they were not given new crofts. Unable to find accommodation despite a desperate search, some 80 people of all ages took refuge in the churchyard at Croick, where they camped in a crude shelter covered with tarpaulins and blankets. Their plight was vividly recounted in a Times report (of which a copy is displayed in the church). Their further history is uncertain, though some at least were settled near Edderton, and others in Ardgay and Shandwick where their descendants now live.

Scratched on the glass of the east window are poignant references to this event: 'Glencalvie people was in the churchyard here May 24th 1845; Glencalvie is a wilderness below sheep' and the like. It seems unlikely that these were written by the evicted people themselves, who spoke only Gaelic as the Times reporter records. A possible candidate is the 'John Ross, shepherd, Croick' whose name appears four times, twice with the date 1869.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Highlands’, (1995).

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