Today we visit the Barn Church in Culloden. This is part of the Church of Scotland and is quite close to where I live.
In centuries past, Culloden belonged to the Parish of the East Church of Inverness. There was a small village at Balloch, but Culloden itself consisted only of Culloden House and the buildings connected with the Forbes Estate. Culloden House may have been used by the young pretender in 1746, but it was destroyed by fire, and later rebuilt. The only structures in Culloden itself, which date before the battle, are therefore the dovecote, the ruined stables ( which are now flats) and the barn.
The Barn was built in 1729 as a tithe barn for The Culloden Estate. The date carved in the skewputt of the gable above the stair. It was probably built by the direction of Duncan Forbes, who was the Lord President at the time of the '45, the most illustrious of the Lairds of Culloden. The actual work would have been carried out by tenants of the estate houses, and the excellent condition of the masonry today bears testimony to the quality of their work. An outside stair leads to a window which was once the entrance to the hay loft. Downstairs the original doors were directly opposite each other on the long walls. As they were too narrow for the horse & cart, it is believed that their real purpose was for the winnowing of grain. On a windy day, all the doors would be opened, and the grain stored in the loft would be poured through the trap. The chaff and lights would be carried away by the wind, while the good grain was bagged & carted to the meal mill at Milton of Culloden. It is interesting that the 1st Psalm uses the image of winnowing to draw a sharp distinction between the good & evil ways. In its very conception the Barn was a parable!
From the earliest times, the barn may have been used as a place for worship. It is said that the Moravian covenanters used the buildings for their services. Though forbidden by law, these champions of Presbyterianism gathered to hear the Gospel in secret places all over the North.
The Barn fell into disuse around 1860, and it was about this time that regular services were first held here. Lancet windows were fitted to make the building look more like a Kirk. The congregation were the Forbes family and their staff, with the head gardener acting as presenter. For a century the Barn was used in this way as a mission station under the auspices of the East Church. The first Sunday School was started in around 1920. Upstairs, the loft served as the estate joiners workshop, and later it was used by the local Scouts.
The new parish of Culloden, which includes Cradlehall, Smithton, Resaurie and Balloch, was created on 1st January 1975 as a Church Extension Charge, to serve the large new housing estates which were being built on the old Forbes lands. The first minister was called in 1977. Extensive renovations of the Old Barn were competed in the same year. The hay-loft was removed, and the result was a very beautiful old church. The “New” Barn, an attractive modern hall-church built onto the old structure was opened on August 26th 1982. The congregation was granted Full Status by the General Assembly of 1989.
So for 140 years, the Barn has been a centre for preaching the Word of God. Today, a lively and bustling fellowship inhabits these walls. We invite you to come & enjoy our historic building, but also to share in the faith which has shaped our history and our lives. God gave his only Son for us, so that believing in Him we can know life, a rich, eternal life. These ancient stones stand as a monument to a far more ancient truth.
whose blessed Son before his passion
prayed for his disciples that they might be one,
as you and he are one:
Grant that you Church,
being bound together in love and obedience to you,
may be united in one body by the one Spirit,
that the world may believe in him whom you have sent,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns
with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.