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Our Lady and St Michael's,

Tomintoul

In spite  of persecution the Catholic faith had survived in Tomintoul like people of the neighbouring Braes of Glenlivet, many in Strathavon had kept to the old religion, a fact made possible no doubt by the influence of the powerful Gordon family

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Although the Catholics of Tomintoul and district were sometimes reduced to worshipping in a field, there appears to have been a small church built in the late 1750’s: there are definite mentions of a small churdh at Balavlaiiç near the junction ot the Lecht and Dufftown roads.

In 1837 it was decided to build the present church, and the priest, Mi: Donald Carmichael, asked Dr. James Kyle, Bishop of the Northern District, to lay the foundation stone which was duly done in May of that year The design of the new church was.. entrusted to Mr. George Mattewson, architect of Dundee, and the church was to be dedicated to Our Lady and St. Michael.

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Some difficulties were encountered in obtaining stone, some quarries refusing permission, but finally ‘stone was obtained chiefly from locations at Inchnabrach, Torrans and Lynachorlç the parishioners themselves dragging the hecn.y stones to the building site, no doubt by every possible means of transport. In spite of all obstacles, the masons’ work was completed by September 1837.

 

 

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Externally the church is cruciform in shape, and the interior is T-shaped. This is accounted for by the fact that in 1937, when the church was 100 years old, Fr. Bernard Azuer caused the church to be changed round so that the breadth became the length, the side door became the main door, the large main door to the burial ground being kept permanently closed. The organ is still in a gallery opposite where the altar was. These changes are still hotly debated by older parishioners.

On entering the Vestibule of the church we immediately see the holy water stoup, dedicated 10 Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, diplomat and author In the centre of the church is the batismal font in memory of John Farç~’uhar-Thomson and in the left hand recess is a large tablet in memory of CoL John Gordon Smith of Delnabo. The main altar is impressive but not unduly elaborate, and overall hangs a carved wooden tester In the burial ground outside, the gravestones will give the visitor a good idea of the families and dwelling-places of former generations, many natives of the district having left this smallplace to attain celebrity in distant places.

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In 1880 nuns from the Convent of Mercy in .21gm came to Tomintoul to take charge of the R.C. School, and in 1921 a new wing and chapel were added to the convent, chiefly through the generosity of a benefactor. Sadly the school closed in 1963 and the nuns departed in 1975.

The little convent chapel still exists and the building remains in use as :

St. Michael Centre.

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The centre is in regular use and here are some photographs of a group of children from Huntly and Portsoy that stayed there in May 2000.

 

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Outside Tombae Chapel

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At Scalan

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Scalan

 

 

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