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Grid Ref: HU 632 899
Inside the Byre Chapel
Inside the Byre Chapel

The Ordnance Survey show two churches on Fetlar. One is Fetlar Kirk, overlooking the beach at Tresta.

The Society of Our Lady of the Isles
The Society of Our Lady of the Isles
The Chapel from the Door
The Chapel from the Door
Pews
Pews

The map shows the second to lie amid a small cluster of buildings on Aith Ness, a mile south east of Houbie. But anyone trying to find it can easily become a little puzzled, for what's shown on the map appears on the ground as farm buildings and cottages.

Actually, there is a church here: it simply doesn't look like one. What you find, usually after asking directions, is the Byre Chapel, a remarkable conversion of the end of a barn into a place of worship.

The Cross
The Cross

The interior is breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity. The original wood of the byre has been reused to form all that is needed in a place of worship: a cross, pews, lectern and so on. And the floor is simple concrete decorated with an inscribed crisscross pattern. The rough pews have been covered in sheepskins.

This was the original chapel of the Society of Our Lady of the Isles (SOLI), a convent established in this lovely spot with its extensive sea views.

SOLI has since established a purpose-built chapel in newer buildings nearby, but the Byre Chapel also remains in use, both as a place of worship and, in the other end of the barn, as home to Iona, the community's goat.

Exterior of the Byre Chapel
Exterior of the Byre Chapel
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