St.Conan’s Kirk’s £1m community vision backed by national heritage agency

St.Conan’s Kirk in the Argyll and Bute village of Lochawe has been revealed as one of only twelve UK buildings to be awarded funding in the latest round of funding by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
An open day on Saturday 4th November 2023 (10am until 4pm) will give visitors and local communities an opportunity to not only explore the history and heritage of the Kirk through interactive tours, displays, talks and an organ recital at 1pm but also to find out more and contribute to the vision and plans for the next five years.

Peter Hennessy, Vice Chair of Friends of St.Conan’s Kirk and spokesperson said,
“Our community-led vision is to secure the future of this inspiring building by increasing its accessibility to all sections of the community, young and old. By further developing St.Conan’s as a regional and national heritage destination it will not only help boost the local economy but also provide a resource for education and training and support wellbeing.”

Chair of the St.Conan’s Kirk Trust, which owns the building, Rosalyn Keppie said, “We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund who share our vision for accessible heritage. St.Conan’s Kirk is one of the finest church buildings in the UK. This development funding will help us co-produce a community and heritage plan for the Kirk so that generations to come can enjoy this historic part of Argyll and Bute.”
St.Conan’s Kirk’s use as a community and heritage resource has been increasing in recent years. However, the NLHF grant represents a significant accelerator to the efforts to professionalise our approach to community engagement and wellbeing as well as offering the means to improve the fabric of the building and secure its future for generations to come.

The funding award comes in two distinct phases. The development phase funding of £94,032 will see the Friends and the Trust work with our local communities to further develop a vision and plan for the kirk that is at the heart of community life as well as design the construction works necessary to provide a modern visitor experience. The delivery phase, costed at £1.2million is subject to approval of the development plans which will see physical improvements to the buildings including improved lighting, provide access to the Crypt and develop the Bruce Chapel basement as an education and event resource centre.

Notes to Editors

About the NHLF bid

St.Conan’s Kirk’s successful National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) application envisages a comprehensive heritage engagement programme centred in Lochawe village, but with regional and national reach, which meshes the improvements to the fabric of the building to community wellbeing and education activities. Importantly an improved visitor experience is essential to the programme not only because of the intrinsic heritage value of the kirk but also as a means of driving revenue growth to contribute to the programme.

The programme is split into two key phases – a development phase costed at £120,232.96 (excluding volunteer non-cash contributions) with £94,032.96 approved from the NLHF – and a delivery phase costed at £1,219,694.81 with £813,047.44 to come from the NLHF which is subject to the delivery of key packages of work and further approval. The balances will be met through fundraising from statutory and charitable sources and visitor income.
See what the NLHF say about the bid.

About St.Conan’s Kirk (Lochawe PA33 1AH)

Designed and built by Walter Douglas-Campbell, the Kirk is unique in having an example of almost every style of church architecture. Highlights include the Norman doorway, the Gothic flying buttresses, a Celtic cross, the Arts and Crafts carvings, the Saxon tower and even a Stone circle. In addition, Walter commissioned some of the finest craftsmen to help decorate the interior. The lochside gardens offer stunning views over the Loch.
The Friends of Saint Conan’s Kirk charity (SC045006) was set up in March 2014 with the aim of preserving the heritage of Saint Conan’s Kirk, providing a focal point for the local community and to help raise funds to maintain the fabric of the Kirk and its grounds through the development of a centre for the arts and education.

For Interviews

To interview the Friends of St.Conan’s Kirk Vice-Chair and heritage spokesperson, Peter Hennessy, contact Takki Sulaiman (Friends Secretary) on 07778 419218 or

Images of the Kirk are also available upon request.

Thanks to the National Lottery Players