St John's Church was built in 1883 and spent much of its life as the North Walls Parish Church. It stands right on the north shore of the inlet of Longhope, looking directly across it to the village of Longhope. Few churches can boast quite such an idyllic setting.
But on an island like Hoy, which saw a steeply declining population during much of the second half of the 1900s, St John's found itself declared surplus to requirements, with services for the south of the island being concentrated on St Columba's Church, near Longhope.
In April 2001 St John's was placed on the open market by the Church of Scotland. Local residents were concerned because the graveyard immediately surrounding the church was still in use.
This, coupled with a lack of mains water or electricity (the church uses oil lamps) meant that the potential of the building as a residential conversion was perhaps rather limited.
Two months later a sensible solution was reached when the Church of Scotland sold St John's to a trust called "The Friends of St Johns" for £1. The trust has since maintained the church: when visiting, remember that they rely on voluntary contributions to continue to do so.
Externally St John's is plain but attractive, and its location on the shoreline really is enchanting. Entry is via a porch at the west end, which is echoed by the vestry at the east end. Above the west end of the church is its only real ornament, the bellcote.
Internally, St John's continues the "plain but attractive" theme. White walls are nicely set off by the woodwork of the roof, pews and pulpit. The only distraction afforded the congregation from the sermons of the preacher would have been the attractive oil lamps by which the church is still lit.
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Grid Ref: ND 298 916