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Bunessan Church lies in the heart of the village of Bunessan, neatly fitted into a gap between two shops on the landward side of the main road as it skirts around the end of the loch here. Though as the church was built in 1804 and dates back to the early years of the village, it is probably more likely that the shops were fitted around the church.
The church was the work of local mason, James Morrison. Repairs and renovation took place in in 1828 and 1857, and today's interior largely dates back to work undertaken in 1908.
The church comprises an east-west aligned hall with a gallery at its west end. The walls are white, and the fixtures and fittings, including the ceiling, are of a pleasingly shaded wood. As in many post-Reformation Scottish churches, there is little to distract the congregation from the preaching of the minister, though a small amount of stained glass is present in the church.
Although plain, the interior is attractive, and if you look closely you can find some fascinating signs of the people who have worshipped here over the past century, in the form of names carved into the wood of the rear stalls.
On the Bunessan, feature page, we have suggested that the village's sometimes poor press may in part be down to its north-facing location, meaning that the main face of the village is rarely seen in sunlight. This is illustrated in the appearance of the church from different angles.
If you take the normal view, from the far side of the main road by the sea wall, you find yourself looking past parked cars, under a complex arrangement of overhead phone or power wires, and into the sun. This is shown in the image above right. But if you take the trouble to find your way to the rear, sunny, side of the church, even though the outbuilding there is finished in grey rather than white, the end result gives a much better impression: see header image.
Bunessan Church is a Parish Church for the Parish of Kilfinichen and Kilvickeon. Those are not names it is easy to find on modern maps of Mull. Before the Reformation in 1560, Mull was divided in to seven parishes. Afterwards the whole island, plus surrounding islands such as Ulva and Iona, came together in the single Parish of Mull. This must have proved pretty unworkable, so from 1688 the island was split into two parishes, covering the northern and southern halves of the island.
And from 1720 the southern parish was again divided, this time into one covering eastern Mull and one covering western Mull, the Ross of Mull, and Iona. In naming this latter parish, church authorities recycled two of the pre-Reformation parish names, and it became the Parish of Kilfinichen and Kilvickeon