St Margaret’s Church, Aberlour, was designed and built in 1875 by the Scots architect Alexander Ross to provide a chapel for the children and staff of the Aberlour Orphanage and the Episcopalians of the neighbourhood. As a congregation, we are aware that much of the finance for the building of the church came from money made from the slave trade in the West Indies during the 19th century. We acknowledge that and pray for those who lives were destroyed. We are committing ourselves to work within the community to stand against discrimination and all forms of racism.
The Orphanage was closed in 1967 and its buildings demolished. Only the clock tower and the church are left to remind thousands of ‘mitherless bairns’ of their childhood on Speyside.
The church is in the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and its congregation belongs to the Episcopal Church of Scotland. Services are held in the church every Sunday; please see the SERVICES page on this website for further information.
Thanks to generous funding from Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and with funds raised by parishioners and the local community, repairs to the building were carried out in 2012. Essential maintenance to the roof and rainwater goods has brought the building into a good state of repair, but the next requirement is to bring the building up to standards required of a public place in the 21st century.
The heating has recently been upgraded which makes it a much more comfortable space. If the building is to be useful for more general use by the local community, it would be good to have a more flexible space to use for entertainment, concerts and public performance.
So many churches nowadays face the challenge of keeping their buildings relevant to 21st century requirements. Our building is ‘A’ listed and is very beautiful.
It is a place of pilgrimage for former orphans and their descendants. The congregation at St Margaret’s is very mindful of its responsibility to keep the building alive and useful as a small part of Great Britain’s remarkable built heritage.
Memories from orphans as researched by pupils from Speyside High School:
'If you were very bad you were told to clean all the brass in the church'
'If you sang a wrong note, you were sent behind the organ to pump air into it'
'One real complaint of mine was the church and all of the prayers. You had them at breakfast, dinner, tea, supper and bedtime. You had to learn a verse of a psalm and if you could not say it off by heart, you got the belt'
'The services were often conducted by "Wolfie" (Canon Wolfe, the Warden of the Orphanage for over thirty years). He had two black labrador dogs, Spey and Lour. They attended every service and on arrival headed for the altar where they lay for the duration of the service'