Cromarty East Church

Cromarty East Church
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Cromarty East Church

Located at the southeast termination of Church Street in Cromarty on the Black Isle, the Cromarty East Church is of national importance, regarded as one of the finest Post-Reformation churches in Scotland.

Once the Parish Church, dating from the late 16th century, but built on the site of a structure of at least a 150 years earlier, this Category A-listed building has remained substantially unchanged since the end of the 18th Century. Originally a simple rectangular box, a gallery - known as the Scholars' Loft - was added at the west end in the early 18th century to increase capacity. The church was further extended, to the north, in 1739 to form a T-shape - this new wing including a Poor Loft emblazoned with the initials of those who sponsored it. In 1756, the roof was raised and a gallery was inserted at the east end, to form a Laird's Loft. A classic birdcage bellcote was erected in 1799. Inside are fine box pews dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, featuring decorated panels reused from an earlier period that include painted friezes and coats of arms.

The East Church shared the role of Parish Church with the newer Cromarty West Church until it was declared unnecessary in 1998 and sold to the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust for the sum of £1. The church remains in occasional use for services, weddings, baptisms and funerals.

The church is associated with eccentric writer and translator Sir Thomas Urquhart (c.1611-60), and George Ross (c.1700-86) a London-based businessman who became laird of the Cromarty Estate. A fine hatchment painted with Ross's arms features on the ceiling of the Laird's Loft. The Category B-listed churchyard, which is maintained by Highland Council, features several memorials by the noted geologist and churchman Hugh Miller (1802-56) while a stone-mason here.

The church featured in the BBC television series Restoration in 2006, with plans to stabilise an increasingly fragile structure and return it to community use.

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