Arthur George Sydney Mitchell, 1897-1898. Small single storey, rectangular-plan, Arts and Crafts church of individual design with distinctive belfry and broached spire to W end. Random rubble; dark stone used at quoins and dressings. Lean-to timber porch to E; angle buttresses to chancel to N.
E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: gable end. Central lean-to timber and rubble porch, 4 bipartite trifoliated lattice windows, bracketed eaves; 2-leaf timber panelled pointed arched door to right return, single trifoliated window to left; timbered right return with pointed arched panel.
Pointed trifoliated lancet windows with chamfered cills flanking porch. Elongated, shouldered chimneystack to left of gable apex.
N ELEVATION: 6-bays; low wallhead with swept eaves. 4 bipartite lattice windows to left (nave); projecting bay to right (transept) with 2 closely set tripartite lattice windows. Broached spire emerging from chamfered and shouldered belfry with vents, small windows and gablet; lead finial. Chancel recessed to far right.
W (STREET) ELEVATION: advanced central full-height pitched chancel, pointed trifoliated lancet window, angle buttresses; window set back to right.
S ELEVATION: identical to N elevation (no windows to projecting bay to left). Steeply pitched roof; grey slates; straight ashlar skews.
BOUNDARY WALLS: low dry stone boundary walls surrounding church with rubble coping.
INTERIOR: plaster ceiling of mansard profile with timber trusses springing from below wallhead. Segmental arched window openings to N and S. Plain oak pews. Wide central pointed ashlar arch opening onto chancel flanked by smaller pointed arches. Carved oak communion table with 3 gothic blind tracery panels, small oak font and lectern of similar design; oak dado panelling lining chancel. Pointed archway from chancel to vestry to right. 3 stained glass windows: Christ the Good Shepherd, memorial to Revd James Mackinnon, minister 1894-1938 to W; window to NE in memory of Iain Ramsay of Kildalton, killed 30 April 1942; haymaking scene over pensive shepherd boy and stone carvers to SE window. (Both windows to E by same unknown artist.)
Statement of Special Interest
Ecclesiastical building in use as such. Situated in a prominent position facing Loch Leodamais, St John's Church presents a striking contrast to late Georgian houses planned along the length of Frederick Crescent, Port Ellen's main thoroughfare. This plain yet refined church is the first of Sydney Mitchell's churches to explore more fully the Arts and Crafts aesthetic. Later churches such as those at Gullane and Port Seton (see separated listings) display a similar stylistic approach. St John's however is a more compact example of this style whose most distinctive feature is its spire and belfry. Walker states that this church is an adaptation of the Romanesque church at Leulinghen-Bernes, near Boulogne. A pupil of R R Anderson, A G Sydney Mitchell (1856-1938) is recognised as one of Scotland's leading late 19th and early 20th century architects, having completed important commissions for numerous asylums and hospitals and for many innovative church designs, including his most recognised scheme for Crichton Royal Church, Dumfries (see separate listing). He was one of Scotland's most eclectic architects, always able to combine effectively a variety of elements from historicist to Arts and Crafts to create a unique style. Sydney Mitchell's practice made another contribution to the townscape of Port Ellen with their Ramsay Hall, a community hall built in 1901-1902 to commemorate John Ramsay of Kildalton.