History of St. Andrew’s
In 1877 Episcopalians in the area began to hold services in Tain Town Hall.
A year later “an iron church, calculated for 70 people,” was built “at a cost of £179 – 18 – 00”. It opened on September 17th, 1878. This Tin Tabernacle temporary church was replaced by the present church, built in 1887 by local craftsmen, using local stone, to a design by Ross and Macbeth of Inverness.
The Rectory, which adjoins the church, was built in 1898 to a design by Alexander Ross.
St. Andrew’s has been a committed presence not simply to Tain but to people across Easter Ross and East Sutherland. St. Andrew’s is very much at the heart of the family of churches now celebrated as a group that works to be a presence for God in North Ross-shire and East Sutherland.
The building itself is of significant historical interest, housing one of the few unaltered 1914 C & F Hamilton (Edinburgh) organs, (and which celebrated its centenary in St. Andrew’s in 2014). Much of the woodwork in the church is by ‘Mousey Thompson’ (Robert Thomson of Yorkshire) whose characteristic trade-mark is the mouse. The St Andrew’s ‘mice’ have been described as “running everywhere ”, and if you look carefully you will notice seven of them altogether, hiding on the Lectern, the Pulpit, the Altar Rail, and on the woodwork behind the high altar itself. (Similar mice can also be spotted in Pluscarden Abbey, near Elgin.)
On the North side of the church there are two stained glass windows by William Wilson RSA (1905–1972), one of Scotland’s finest artists. He started his glass career with James Ballantyne & Son, prior to which he worked as a map maker. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, before opening his stained-glass studio in Edinburgh in 1937. During his career he produced over 300 windows, for churches, cathedrals and secular buildings all over Scotland. One of these is the “musician’s window” in the sanctuary with Miriam (sister of Moses and Aaron who “took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.’” – Exodus 15:20-22 – after The Lord had led them across the Red Sea in safety), King David (you all know who he was:-) and St. Cecilia the Patron Saint of Musicians (It is written that as the musicians played at her wedding she “sang in her heart to the Lord“).
The nave altar was designed and carved from American oak in 1995 by Peter Bailey, a retired architect who lives on the Isle of Skye. It was a gift to St Andrew’s from Miss Kathleen Montgomery, Organist of the church, in memory of her parents, Canon William Montgomery (Rector from 1935-47) and Mrs Montgomery.