The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which takes its name from the Carmelite Monastery founded in the town by King Robert in 1321 and which was destroyed by arson in 1555, was built in 1870 at a cost of £1300, raised mainly by public subscription. The church was opened by Bishop MacDonald on 6th December 1870.
Alexander Ellis, the designer of Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, designed the church. The masonry work was carried out by Mr Gibson of Turriff, the joinery by Mr Bruce of Aberdeen, the slater was Mr Alex Walker of Banff, and Mr Watt also from Banff was the plumber. The church stands in grounds of a quarter of an acre.
Father Aeneas Chisholm, parish priest toward the end of 19th century was appointed Rector of the Scottish Roman Catholic Seminary at St Mary’s College, Blairs by Aberdeen, and was subsequently ordained Bishop of Aberdeen.
The gable of the nave originally fronted the road and was filled with three small windows that gave light under the orchestral gallery. A trefoil window above is flanked on the left corner by a campaile, or bell turret, in masonry and octagonal in plan. The belfry is 64′ high. Part of this is now concealed from the road (though it can still be seen from the inside of the church) by the addition of the baptistery erected in 1920, the Golden Jubilee year, in memory of those parishioners who gave their lives in the First World War. There is a plaque to this effect in the baptistery which is now used as a small chapel.
An altar of Belgian, Greek and Italian marbles was installed in 1914 with a reredos of Flemish oak. The small statues of Scottish and Carmelite saints on the reredos were carved in the 1930s and represent Saint Margaret, Saint Andrew, Saint Therese of Lisieux and Saint Columba; and on the right, Saint John Ogilvie, Saint Ninian, Saint Drostan and Saint Teresa of Avila. The sanctuary chairs, candle holders and ambo were designed and carved in Scottish oak by Harry W. Bain on commission from the parish to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the completion of the building of the parish church and presbytery.
On the mouldings of the Chancel (on the canopy above the altar) can be seen the monograms “A” and “0” (Alpha and Omega), “I.H.S.” (the first three initials of Our Lord’s name in the Greek alphabet), “M.R.” and “M.A.” (thought to be but not confirmed, “Maria Regina” and “Maria Assumpta”).
Paintings depicting the passion and death of Jesus, known as the Stations of the Cross, which can be seen on both sides of the nave, were gifted to the church in memory of Harriet Ann Grant who died in 1907. A plaque to this effect can be seen by the window.
In 1983 an altar facing the congregation was installed, the altar rails were removed and the sanctuary extended to accommodate, on the left, the baptismal font. In 1997 the forward facing altar was replaced by one brought from Blairs College, Aberdeen and which was altered and refurbished by Mr T. Boyd of Cornhill. The sanctuary furnishings were carved in Scottish oak by Harry Bain and purchased by the parish to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the opening of the church building. Throughout 2010-12 remedial works were undertaken to replace the church roof tiles, gutters, downpipes and ground drainage.
Our parish family invite you to visit and spend some time in our church, taking the opportunity to pray and experience the tranquility of this holy place.