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Poltalloch Estate, St Columba's Chapel

Architectural Fragment(S) (16th Century), Church (19th Century)

Site Name Poltalloch Estate, St Columba's Chapel

Classification Architectural Fragment(S) (16th Century), Church (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) St Columba's Episcopal Church

Canmore ID 152986

Site Number NR89NW 81.03

NGR NR 81604 96531

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilmartin
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR89NW 81.03 81604 96531

St Columba's Chapel [NAT]

(Undated) OS 1;10,000 map.

See also:

NR89NW 54 NR 8158 9652 Cross ('Cross of Argyll', from Kilmichael Glassary Church - NR89SE 15.00)

NR89NW 55 NR 8160 9653 Cross-slabs (from Barrnakill and Oib Mhor - NR78NE 1 and NR89SW 13)


Photographic Survey (1962)

Photographic survey of buildings on Poltalloch Estate, Argyll, by the Scottish National Buildings Record in 1962.

Field Visit (August 1988)

This chapel is situated in its graveyard 200m E of Poltalloch House (No. 177 ). A chapel wing attached to the house was included in William Burn's original designs of 1845, but omitted from the revised design of 1849. The existing chapel was begun to the designs of the London architect, Thomas Cundy, younger, in 1852, and it was consecrated two years later (1*). It remained the private chapel of the Malcolm family until 1925, when the charge was united with Christ Church, Lochgilphead (No. 17).

The church is of nave-and-chancel design, with a W bellcot and a gabled N porch, while the chancel is flanked on the N by a vestry and on the S by a family memorial chapel with parallel roof. The masonry is of local rubble, with copious sandstone dressings, and the design is of Early English style, with stepped buttresses and shafted lancet windows, including a triple-lancet E window. Decorative carvings include rainwater-heads in the form of animal masks, and the ashlar-faced interior has head-stops on the label-moulds of all openings, while the tall chancel arch and the arches opening into the vestry and S chapel have foliated capitals. The interior is richly furnished with original stalls, pews, pulpit, font and wrought-iron communion rails and lampbrackets.The floors are tiled throughout, with decorative tiles in the chancel and S chapel (en.2*), and the panelled chancel ceiling retains its decoration of painted stars. The stained glass of the E window, which contains medallions of the Passion and the other windows of grisaille glass were designed by William Wailes, London. The chapel, separated from the chancel by an arcaded timber screen, has a mural arcade containing memorial tablets to members of the Malcolm family, and a cruciform memorial brass marking the burial of Neill Malcolm, 'founder of this church of St. Columba', who died in 1857 aged 60.

CARVED STONES. A late medieval cross from Kilmichael Glassary (No. 69,22) was re-erected SW of the chapel in the 1850s, and Early Christian stones from Barnakill (No. 13)and Oib (No. 2, 5) were set up outside the N wall of the nave in 1927.

STALLS. Inside the nave there are three timber choir-stalls of unknown provenance. These appear to have belonged to a continuous row, subsequently adapted to form individual stalls, and some elements are of recent origin, but the decorative portions are probably English and of early 16th century date (en.3*). The lower parts of the side-panels or 'standards' are treated as separate moulded legs, joined longitudinally at floor-level by moulded rails. The curved fronts of the standards bear figure-subjects in full relief, and carved misericords, lacking the usual side-subjects, are mounted on later pivoted seats. The individual subjects are as follows:

(a) On the left standard, a cloaked man with a tall rounded hat and bare feet, facing right and playing a wide-mouthed conical pipe. On the right standard, a seated skeleton, cloaked or winged, facing forwards with hands on knees. The misericord bears foliage around cruciform ribs springing from a central roundel. The front legs of this stall are cable moulded.

(b) On the left standard, a seated ?beggar with hands on knees, cap dangling from mouth, and a pack or book fixed behind the head. On the right standard, a seated clothed figure with elephant's head and trunk, on which its hands rest as if playing a pipe. The misericord shows a female head with head-dress and high-necked garment, surrounded by fruit.

(c) On the left standard, a male figure, naked or wearing short breeches, with a heavy studded collar. The outstretched hands hold an unidentifiable animal or object. On the right standard, a tall hooded and cloaked figure, probably a monk although possibly female, holding a ?heart or damaged chalice. The misericord shows a naked man, seated facing left and playing two pipes, against the background of a cable moulding above a band of scalloped foliage.

RCAHMS 1992, visited August 1988


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