Standing within a raised oval churchyard in the village of Strachur is Strachur Parish Church, an attractive grey-harled rectangular structure with a pedimented vestry surmounted by a belfry on its southern side.
The church was built in 1789. Much of its appearance today dates back to a major renovation carried out in 1902-3 by the local architect Archibald Fergusson. The original hipped or piended roof was removed and replaced with a gabled roof, the pattern of windows was changed, and the interior layout was remodelled and the furnishings were replaced. The result was very much the church as you see it today.
A raised site and an oval or circular graveyard are often signs that a church has been built on the site of a very much older religious foundation. This seems to be the case here, but the details are obscure and more than one version of the story of the development of Strachur Church can be found in usually reliable sources.
The most likely story is that a church was founded here early in the Christian era which became known as Kilmolash, or "Church of St Molaise" after St Molaise. The name later seems to have been changed to Kilmoglash. Meanwhile the church itself probably evolved through a number of rebuilds, with wood and thatch being replaced by stone during the medieval era.
The church then in use here seems to have survived the Reformation of 1560, and the parish of Strachur was merged with the neighbouring parish of Strathlachlan in 1650. As already noted Strachur Parish Church was rebuilt in 1789, to accommodate a congregation 400, while a smaller church was built at Strathlachlan in 1792 to accommodate 150. The parish remains a joint one today, and services take place at both churches.
The churchyard at Strachur has a number of fascinating gravestones dating back to 1781. Much more interesting, however, are the 11 sculptured grave slabs which have been built into the outer wall of the church. One of these has the surround cut away to reveal a date of 1698 carved on its edge, but most are of a style that dates back to the 1300s and 1400s and carry a range of carvings typical of West Highland grave slabs of the era, including a knight, some nicely carved swords, and a great deal of Celtic knotwork.
Accounts differ as to whether these stones were built into the outer wall of the church in 1789 or in 1903, and there is also disagreement as to whether they were originally in use on this site, or were brought here in 1789 from the site of a chapel at Chapel Verna, about three quarters of a mile south of Strachur. We understand from Archibald Fergusson's granddaughter that 1903 is the correct date, and that she has a copy of a letter which he sent to the late Chief of Clan Fergusson of Strachur telling him that he had built the stone into the walls, and that the stone with the knight was the gravestone of a previous chief who had been buried at Chapel Verna.