The imposing frontage of Ardchattan Kirk stands raised above the minor single track road that runs alongside the north shore of Loch Etive from Connel Bridge to Ardchattan House and its garden and the ruins of Ardchattan Priory. The nearest settlement, half a mile to the west, is the scattered hamlet of Achnaba. The car park is on the loch side of the road, and from here you simply need to cross the road and climb a dozen steps to reach the kirk itself.
Ardchattan Kirk opened its doors for worship for the first time on Sunday 17 September 1836. The site was donated by a local landowner, General Campbell of Lochnell, and the building cost £1,100 to complete. The cost was divided between the heritors or landowners of the parish, and when complete the building could accommodate 430 people. The grey granite and sandstone dressing used in its construction was quarried locally.
As well as the church itself, the building provided accommodation for a session room, a minister's room, and private rooms for two of the local landowners, including one for General Campbell.
The kirk has changed little since its construction, and as a result it is possible to appreciate it as its designers and builders intended. The focal point is very much the high pulpit, standing in front of a window set into in the north wall. Above the pulpit is a device that looks a little like a candle snuffer, but which is in fact a sounding board, intended to help project the minister's voice to all corners of the kirk. The gallery is horseshoe shaped, and is supported on iron pillars.
Some of the pews on the east side of the kirk are those originally installed, and come complete with pegs used by male parishioners to hang their hats on during services. It would have been the norm for parishioners to rent particular pews for their families. Those unable to afford the rental would have had to sit at the long central communion table. It is thought that there are only four of these tables still in use in Scottish churches, and it certainly is a defining feature of the interior.
Music was banned in Presbyterian churches until 1866. The organ found in Ardchattan Kirk today was originally used in a free church in the parish, before being moved here in 1935.
Ardchattan Kirk was built to replace an earlier church, itself built in 1732 on a site nearer Ardchattan Priory. This earlier building had been constructed to replace the first post-Reformation church used in the parish, which was the priory church of Ardchattan Priory itself. Clearly as time went on, the focus of the parish's (doubtless diminishing) population shifted towards the coast, which explains why successive churches were built to the west of their predecessor.
The frontage of the kirk is by far its most impressive face, but in many ways its location is best appreciated from the rear, when it can be set in the context of the broad expanse of Loch Etive.