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The “Outlander effect” helps save one of Scotland’s most important parish churches

Tibbermore Parish Church.
Tibbermore Parish Church.

The “Outlander Effect” has helped save one of Scotland’s most important churches for future generations.

Hundreds of fans have made a pilgrimage to Perthshire since Tibbermore Church featured in one of the hit television show’s most iconic scenes.

Their donations – together with money from the company behind the show– has enabled the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust to undertake £70,000 of roof repairs and preserve its structure.

As well as its modern resonance with television viewers, the parish church has significant historical importance. It dates from 1632 and many of its features remain unique.

The church’s raked stone flooring and simple wooden pews are distinctive and unusual survivors, while the declaration around its pulpitis is of a style long missing from most places of worship of Tibbermore’s age.

The stained glass windows, from 1920, designed by Oscar Paterson commemorate the women who served their country during the First World War.

One of the First World War stained glass windows.
One of the First World War stained glass windows.

Victoria Collison-Owen, executive director of the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust, said: “The Tibbermore Charitable Trust bought the church when it was closed by the Church of Scotland.

“Its members did a fantastic job keeping the building alive and part of the community but it was a huge challenge for them.

“There was a realisation that it was too much responsibility for a small community trust and the sums of money involved were much bigger than they could ever have expected.

“Time and age were catching up with the building – as they do with so many churches – and for that reason they approached us to take it on.”

Money was secured from the Listed Places of Worship roof repair fund and the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, as well as money and support flowing in since Outlander filmed in Perthshire.

Tibbermore was the location for one of the hit show’s most memorable scenes in which central characters Claire and Geillis are put on trial as witches.

Victoria said: “We have invested much of the funds that followed the filming of Outlander at the church.

“The film crew were great to work with and really respectful of the building – consulting with us on everything – and we must thank them for their support.

“The filming and the money we received really were a big catalyst for the repairs.

“In addition to that, we now receive a huge number of visitors from all four corners of the globe.

“The show’s reach really is extraordinary, with lots of visitors from the US, Germany, France and Belgium in particular.

“We have found the fans to be a really enthusiastic bunch with a great interest in Scottish history and heritage in general.”

Community uses remain limited as the church has “no heat, no light, no power and no running water” though the trust has pledged to “be creative”.

Victoria said one of “loveliest things” to happen since repairs were undertaken was the first wedding to be held since the church closed.

As works continue, visitor numbers are expected to increase further with the release of a new interactive Outlander locations map by VisitScotland.

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