Supporting Music, the Arts, Heritage
and the Environment in Drimnin
What We Do
St Columba's Drimnin Trust is a charity established in 2005 to promote music and the arts and protect the heritage and environment for the remote community of Drimnin on the west coast of Scotland.
It offers musical residencies to ensembles to help them develop their playing through intensive practice time together or for composition combined with concerts in the restored Drimnin Chapel, in schools and elsewhere in the community for the benefit of the ensembles and the local community. The Trust offers other concerts and arts in the Chapel, provides a venue for services and weddings, conserves the heritage of the community including the Chapel and Drimnin Mill, and aims to help protect the Drimnin environment.
History of Drimnin Chapel
The Chapel occupies the site of the ancient Drimnin Castle, on a rocky knoll overlooking the Sound of Mull, the Atlantic Ocean and Tobermory. These lands were once those of the Macleans of Drimnin who lost control of their property after supporting the Jacobite uprising. Having passed through the hands of several short-term owners it was purchased in 1835 by Sir Charles Gordon, a wealthy Edinburgh lawyer.
The Gordons were Catholics in an almost exclusively Protestant area. Not surprisingly the local population was disapproving when Sir Charles demolished the castle and replaced it with a Catholic chapel in 1838, reusing much of the stone from the castle.
Local hostility was exacerbated by the appointment of a full-time priest, who lived in the newly constructed Hermitage close to the Chapel, and by making the Chapel the centre of worship for Catholics from Mull and Ardnamurchan who came by boat to the nearby jetty.
After the untimely death of Sir Charles in 1845, use of the Chapel gradually diminished until it finally fell into disuse and disrepair, being replaced by a chapel within Drimnin House. It was there that Saint Mary McKillop, Australia's first saint whose parents came from Roy Bridge near Fort William, took Mass on her visit to the UK in the late 19th century. Following the sale of the Estate by the Gordon family in 1943, the Chapel deteriorated and lost its roof, but was given a Grade B listing to protect its historical and scenic importance.
Attempts to secure planning consent for conversion to a house were denied in the 1990s, leaving the Chapel to deteriorate further despite efforts by the Highland Council to facilitate a rescue plan.
Soon after the Millennium plans were developed to restore the Chapel to its original condition, initially as a centre for music and the arts, through the creation of a new charity - St Columba's Drimnin Trust.
Architect's drawings from 1838 show the form of the chapel as it is today - a simple rectangular chancel facing north with a bell tower at the south end. The exterior is harled in lime, with sandstone facings and a roof of Easdale slates. The interior was plastered on laths, with a barrel vaulted ceiling, richly decorated on a blue background. Steep stairs at the rear led to a small balcony and a vestry in the tower - the only part of the Chapel to have any heating.
The Chapel has been restored as far as possible to its original form, with the addition of lighting, power and air-source heating. Work commenced in 2008 and was completed in 2012, when it was rededicated in the presence of HRH The Earl of Wessex.
The aim of Drimnin Residencies is to provide professional ensembles, often but not always made up of younger musicians, with the space and time, in an inspiring environment and the dedicated venue of the Chapel, to learn new repertoire or to create new music. Most are traditional or classical musicians but other genres are equally welcome. Either one or two ensembles may be present at the same time, in some cases with a coach. The Chapel (and Drimnin House or another venue in the community for dual residencies) provides the practice space and each residency concludes with a concert in the Chapel and possibly some involvement in schools or other venues.
The residencies will be of great value to ensembles whose members are towards the end of their college time, are early in their professional careers, or want time out to reflect and recreate at a later point. At present the Trust does not have a piano. Residencies are normally between April and September and last from less than a week to two weeks.
The Trust provides the venue for no charge and reimburses travel costs plus a modest concert fee. Accommodation and all meals are provided at no cost in Drimnin House, which also offers space for private practice.
COVID-19 has forced the Trust to suspend its residency and concert programme temporarily but we are hoping to be fully operational again in 2021
To find out more about the artists who have preformed in the chapel click on the photographs above to visit their websites.
How to reserve seats
Please email or call 07767 443504 to reserve seats. All requests for reservations will be acknowledged.
There is no charge for concerts but the Trust would appreciate a donation to help cover the cost of the concerts and residencies. Small or large donations are welcome; many people choose to donate £10 per person. Donations may be made in cash at the door.
Refreshments are provided at each concert free of charge.
The restoration has enabled this exceptional building to once again serve the local community and others that value and take inspiration from its intimate and peaceful setting.
With panoramic views of Mull, Ardnamurchan, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond this beautiful tip of the Morvern peninsula is ideal for those looking for somewhere a little different to celebrate their special occasion.
The Trust is largely dependent on voluntary donations to continue its work. Some donations are made at concerts but they are welcome at any time.
As a charity, the Trust benefits from Gift Aid in the case of donations made by UK taxpayers, which results in a 25% uplift in the amount actually received by the Trust and a further tax saving for donors who pay higher rate tax.
If you would like to donate or leave a legacy for the Trust please contact the Company Secretary on or 07767 443504.
The Drimnin water mill and its surrounding land were donated to the Trust in 2013 to ensure its conservation and prevent development on this historic site. The Trust aims to conserve the fabric and make it accessible to the public.
The mill, the ruins of which lie in a bend of the Mungosdail River below the public road, is believed to date from the 17th century. It is a conventional water mill, powered by a race that was fed from a pond on the upside of the road with a feeder channel from the river. It served a wide area with farmers bringing their crops by cart or boat.
The miller lived in the adjacent Mill House - a residence of generous proportions as befitted one of the wealthier members of the community.
How to get here
Drimnin Chapel is located on Drimnin Estate at the end of the B849 road from Lochaline on the Morvern peninsula. Vehicle access is typically from the Corran Ferry/Ardgour on Loch Linnhe or via the Fishnish/Lochaline ferry from the Isle of Mull
WHAT3WORDS Location grownup.lotteries.overture