St. John's Chapel, Allangrange

04 May 2010

News Type:
Site of the Month

The remains of the medieval chapel of St John at Allangrange are now much overgrown, but the east gable with its triple lancet window and part of the side walls still stand. The style of the lancet windows suggest that the chapel was contemporary with the earliest part of the cathedral at Fortrose and it attests to the wealth and status of the church in Ross at this time. The west wall has been removed and replaced with a metal railing, perhaps when the chapel was turned into a burial place for the Mackenzies of Allangrange. There are later memorials set into both north and south walls - and within the chapel itself. The Victorian Templar cross on top of the chapel is a result of the chapel’s alleged association with the Knights Templar.

There are relatively few historical references to Allangrange. Bishop Robert Forbes, the indefatigable Bishop of Ross and Caithness, who made two journeys through the Highlands in 1762 and 1770, visited the chapel on two occasions. On 22nd July, 1762, he noted:

Here is an old Chapel in Ruines, the East Gable, where the Altar has been, still standing, with a fine Spring-Well beside it, called St John’s Well, by which Saint’s name, no doubt, the Chapel has been called.

On 12th June, 1770, he:

Got up between 5 and 6 and went to the old ruinous chapel, in which I said my Prayers. Upon Inquiry, I found that this had been a Chapel of Ease to the Bishop of Ross, Allangrange having been one of his country Seats. Allangrange himself not being at home, I importuned Lady Allangrange to have a Fence put round the Chapel, especially as it is the Burial-Place of the Family, which she promised should be done.

The chapel is not generally accessible, but ARCH will lead an Insight-On Site tour to the chapel and nearby buildings on Saturday 22nd May, 2:00-4:00. Come along and explore this intriguing site.

Further reading:
Craven, J B (ed.) (1886) Journals of the episcopal visitations of the Right Rev. Robert Forbes M A of the dioceses of Ross and Caithness and of the dioceses of Ross and Argyll, 1762 and 1770, with a history of the episcopal church in the diocese of Ross, chiefly during the 18th century and a memoir of Bishop R Forbes. London: Skeffington and Son.

Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), The Goods Shed, The Old Station, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV14 9DH
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