This week we are out in Ross-shire surveying a parliamentary church. On a damp day surrounded by trees, the midges are out in force. Balancing an umbrella, a tape measure and notepad while also swatting away flies is a special art that every architect in the Highlands must master.
There are a number of these churches across the Highlands and they symbolise a period of significant development at the start of the 1800’s, with new roads, bridges and harbours being constructed in every corner of the region.
The churches are fairly easy the spot, they share a standardised design. Thomas Telford won the commission to build a large number of churches after the government offered to pay for them. £50,000 (£4 million in today’s money) was provided for the construction of 30 kirks with manses.
The task of selecting the sites and overseeing the work was entrusted to the Commissioners for Building Highland Roads and Bridges, and in particular to their Chief Surveyor Thomas Telford.
The features common to all the "Telford Kirks" are the basic rectangular plan, the shape and positioning of doors and windows, and the small belfry. Most also have an extension to the rear making the plan T-shaped. The windows were standardised so that they could be supplied, ready to fit, by James Abernethy in Aberdeen.
If you are out and about in the summer, see how many you can spot.
MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland.