Kirkmichael, Perthshire

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Kirkmichael from the north-east.jpg
Kirkmichael seen from the north-east
Location: 56°43’31"N, 3°31’12"W
Post town: Blairgowrie
Postcode: PH10
Dialling code: 01250
Local Government
Council: Perth & Kinross
The James Small Monument

Kirkmichael is a village and parish located in north-eastern Perthshire. The village is 13 miles north-west of Blairgowrie and 12 miles north-east of Pitlochry. The parish encompasses Spittal of Glenshee and extends to the borders with Aberdeenshire and Angus.

The name Kirkmichael means "The Church of St Michael"; the Gaelic name is Cill Mhìcheil. The village dates back to the first millennium.

The Village

The village is split into two by the River Ardle. On the north side is the A924 Main Street with the church, Session House community centre, Kirkmichael Hotel, shop, post office, garage and traditional properties dating from the late 19th century. On the south side are the Primary School, Bannerfield, the fire station, Williamston, the village hall, the disused Free Kirk, Sillerburn Road, Whitefield View, the cemetery, Balnald, Balnakilly and the Pinetrees Hotel on the road to Glen Derby. Approximately one third of the houses in the village are holiday or second homes. Permanent population is approx 150.

The original village known as Williamston sits above the school on the original highway from Blairgowrie to Blair Atholl which entered the village past the Hall and Old Kirk and exited by the road to Balnakilly. This now forms part of the Cateran Trail long distance walk.

The School

Kirkmichael primary school sits on the south side of the bridge. The school's catchment area incorporates Strathardle, Kirkmichael, Glenshee, Blacklunans and Bridge of Cally. Pupils continue their secondary school education at Blairgowrie High School. Over its lifetime, the school has been extended from single storey to a two-storey building and in 2007 a new nursery building was added. The grounds contain an all weather sports court which is available for public use outwith school hours.

The Kirks & Session House

The Church of Scotland Kirk dates back to the 18th century and is built on a site used for worship for over one thousand years. It is surrounded by the original graveyard which contains graves dating back many centuries. The east end of the graveyard which does not have headstones or individual graves is the site of a mass burial plot for the victims of the Black Death plague of 1348 which has never been reopened. The cemetery on Balnald Road was opened in the 1950s. Kirkmichael parish was first linked with Straloch, then with Glenshee/Bridge of Cally and finally with Rattray with the minister now using Rattray manse. The original manse opposite the church was sold in the 1970s and was replaced first by a bungalow in Glenshee then in the 1980s by another bungalow on the Balnald road which is now rented out.

The disused Free Kirk, known as the Duff Memorial Church, was built in the late 19th century by the breakaway Free Church of Scotland. In 1928 the Free Kirk amalgamated back into the Church of Scotland with the two churches being used on alternate Sundays until the Duff Memorial finally closed in the 1950s. It was then used as an agricultural building and in the late 1990s the then Village Hall committee drew up plans to acquire the building, restore it to its former glory and provide the village with a 21st-century Community Hall. Unfortunately they were ultimately unable to acquire the old kirk which is now derelict and fast becoming an eyesore. The Free Kirk manse became a SYHA youth hostel and for 30 years was very popular with cyclists and hikers especially from Dundee. It is now a private house.

The Session House Open Learning Centre offers a range of educational courses in conjunction with the University of the Highlands and Islands as well as being a meeting point for various community groups. Its existence and success owe much to the foresight and tenacity of the parish minister in the late 1900s, the Rev Dr Hugh Ormiston. It was originally the parish school and was in poor condition before its restoration into the well equipped building of today.

The Hall

The Village Hall was opened in 1934 after a period of intense fundraising and is managed by a committee of volunteers. It is used by the local pre-school group and other youth groups, the primary school for Physical Education classes and is home to local functions. It was extended in the 1950s and over the years there have been several plans to provide a new state-of-the-art facility.

The Masonic Lodge

Lodge St John was restarted in the late 1950s after many years in abeyance and was originally located in the east end of the property known as Meadowside. When Meadowside changed hands about ten years later the Lodge relocated to the annexe of the village hall.

Historical Monuments & Memorials

  • The War Memorial sits above the road between the village and the Strathardle Inn and along with Ballinloan on the B950 and the Glen Derby road provides the best view of Kirkmichael.
  • At the junction of the A924/B950 sits the James Small (1835-1900) of Dirnanean monument, a highly ornate Celtic cross erected in honour of a former Deputy Lieutenant of Perthshire.
  • Off the footpath from the village to Glenshee lies Whitefield Castle, a ruined hunting lodge built by Malcolm Canmore in the 12th century.
  • The old roadside well opposite the church is fed by an underground spring which never runs dry. The ice cold water has an excellent clean sharp taste and is completely drinkable.
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