A History of St Andrew's Church


The recorded history of Episcopalianism in Callander goes back to 1856, when the Rev George Robert Gleig, Chaplain-General to the Forces and son of the famous Bishop George Gleig (1753-1840), used to spend his summer holidays in Callander and held services in the back room of Mr Forbes' shoemakers shop. There may have been small groups of Episcopalians worshipping in this quiet way in the town before the Penal Laws were revoked in 1792.

It seems that the Laird of Cambusmore, John Buchanan Baillie-Hamilton, was a keen member of the faith and persuaded local landowner and businessman David Carnegie of Stronvar, in Balquhidder Glen, to donate money and building expertise to raise an Episcopal Church on land given by Lady Willoughby De Eresby, the feu superior of a great deal of Callander. St. Andrew's Church was built in 1857 by the stonemason at Stronvar, who had worked under architect David Bryce on the parish church of Balquhidder in 1853, although some published architectural guides attribute the Callander building to the architects J, JW and WH Hay. The church was consecrated in 1859 and the charge was a Summer Mission (Callander being a popular Victorian holiday resort of letting villas) until it was raised to the status of an Incumbency in 1871. The first Rector was the Rev Hardwick Shute, although he may well have been ministering to the congregation for some years before that, and the longest serving was the Very Rev Thurstan Irvine (1948-1966).

In 1886 the Church was enlarged by the addition of transepts, at a cost of £400, which was raised by a bazaar the previous year. In 1891 the Church Hall and Vestry were formally opened by J.B. Baillie Hamilton of Arnprior, who was Church Warden for some 40 years. The Organ, built by Abbott and Smith of Leeds, was installed in 1898 and was the gift of Mrs Campbell of Ardnacreggan "and a few friends". Electricity was only connected up to the church in 1930. Miss Meg McAlpine was organist from 1946 until almost up to her death in 1991.

Over the last thirty years or so the fabric of the Church gradually deteriorated, with only "running repairs" and essential maintenance taking place. Part of the Hall was demolished. Structural surveys were commissioned which revealed that the roof timbers were affected by damp and rot, the walls were beginning to bow out and cracks were appearing in the structure. Once the hard decision had been made to undertake a radical programme of work, the Organ was removed for safekeeping and servicing, an operation which in turn revealed important areas of dry rot which would have caused the whole organ area eventually to collapse.

Thanks to the efforts of Chairman Colin Newman and the Vestry, successful applications were made to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other charities. Members of the congregation rallied round to fundraise in different ways and the local community was most generous. The Church was "out of action" for 6 long months from the middle of June 2004, during which time the congregation gratefully accepted the hospitality of St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in order to hold Sunday Holy Communion. In January 2005 the doors were opened again, although it took a lot longer for the Organ to be re-instated. Many people helped in cleaning the Church and the Hall after the building works, including several members of Callander Kirk. The service of Thanksgiving and Re-dedication was held on Wednesday 8 June 2005 and the Bishop, the Right Revd David Chillingworth, presided. He also consecrated some new Communion silver, which was bought to replace the historic pieces stolen in a break-in in 2003.

As part of the renovation works, it was felt very important to bring the building up to the correct standard to comply with all current legislation: fire and safety and disabled access. New fire doors have been installed, together with an alarm system linked to the Fire Station. The access between the Church and the Hall is now wider, more level and has a ramp leading down into the Hall. There is a toilet accessible to wheelchair users. We have also, at long last, installed an Induction Loop for the hard of hearing, together with more modern microphones and speakers to help the rest of the congregation who do not yet use hearing aids! The Hall has a modern kitchen bar and is very suitable for small clubs and organisations to use for meetings.

In many ways, the early 21st century has seen a reflowering of St. Andrew's and we hope that the Church will be a place of Worship and Welcome for many years to come.