Ulva Parish Church

National Grid Reference (NGR): NM 43610 39800, map


PA73 6LZ

Also known as:

  • Ulva Kirk
  • Telford Church


A Parliamentary church located on the eastern side of the island of Ulva, on a trackway northwest of the Ulva Ferry landing.

Description (exterior)

T-shaped in plan, the church is built of white-harled masonry with a local slate roof. Door and window dressings consist of a dark sandstone, and are gothic in style with a shallow pointed head. The windows are multi-paned clear glass. A simple 'bird cage' bell housing is also present. A gated boundary wall surrounds the building.

The church and manse were designed by Thomas Telford and is one of the numerous government churches built in regions of Scotland in the early to mid 19th century to provide a place of worship for these communities. It was built in 1827-8 at a cost of 1500 pounds. There was no floor to start with, to save on costs. Until Lady Congleton rebuilt the interior, it had loose boards laid in the aisles.


The church was dedicated to St Ewan of Ardstraw. It could sit 320 people and is said that at one time every person on the island attended. When the last resident minister left in 1929, weekly services were curtailed and the church bell was taken to a new church at Penilee, near Paisley. Services are held at the church every so often.


A burial ground nearby, on top of a hill that once housed a fort, has a number of monuments commemorating the Clarks, a prominent family of Ulva. Francis William Clark bought the island in 1835 and the last family member died in 1945. There is a family memorial to the grandson of Francis William, a Major who was killed in World War 1. Other former Ulva residents are commemorated here as well. There is a circular stone structure (not roofed), in which the marble memorials are located.

Description (interior)

The interior of the nave is simple in design, with straight walls meeting a flat ceiling. Both the walls and ceiling have been painted in a pale warm hue. The floor is comprised of wooden boards, and the area is lit by hanging fixtures. Paintings are hung on the nave and gable walls and seating is provided by removable chairs.

A pulpit, manufactured of pine and pannelled, is a prominent feature inside the church. It is a rare surviving example of parliamentary Highland church pulpits.

People / Organisations:

Church of Scotlanddenomination
Thomas Telfordarchitect
Clark familyformer lairds of Ulva, commemorated in burial ground
Lady Congletonlandowner1950sresponsible for the partial conversion of the church building to a community hall.


  • Church: Built (1827)
  • Congregation drastically reduced (1845)
    due to clearances of the island's population by Francis William Clark, Ulva's new laird
  • Church partially converted to community hall (1950 to 1960)

Archive References:

Canmore - Online database View Canmore Report Online: 22017
Historic Scotland Listed Building Reports - Online databaseView HS Listing Online: 13729
Scottish Church Heritage Research Archive - Offline databaseReference: Mull

Bibliographic References:

'Scottish Parliamentary churches and their manses', in Breeze, D J Studies in Scottish antiquity presented to Stewart CrudenHackett, S. and Livingston, N.(1984)Edinburgh.
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 3: Mull, Tiree, Coll and Northern Argyll (excluding the early medieval and later monuments of Iona)RCAHMS(1980)Edinburgh.
Thomas Telford and the Parliamentary Church programme for the Highlands and Islands Scottish Local History Journal, vol.34Tanner, G.(1995)