Iona Abbey Facilities Opened by Princess Anne

Iona Abbey Facilities Opened by Princess Anne

Iona Abbey was reopened on 7 June following a renovation that is one of the most significant in its modern history and makes the ancient site of worship and pilgrimage sustainable and accessible as never before.

HRH Princess Anne visited the tiny Hebridean island and spoke at a special service to celebrate the comprehensively refurbished community and living spaces. The new facilities in the 12th century living quarters include modernised and retrofitted bedroom and community areas, a completely renovated refectory, a new kitchen and scullery with dumb waiter, comprehensive rewiring, insulation, and a new plumbing system.

A lift has been fitted and stairs removed to ensure the new facility is fully accessible, including dedicated bedrooms for guests with special access requirements.  The Abbey will now also be able to tap into the Iona Ground Source Heat Project which is part of the island’s low carbon initiative which will deliver sustainable heating for the Abbey, hotels, Village Hall, school, businesses and homes.

The Iona Abbey Capital Appeal raised £3.75 million from 2,500 donations coming from people in 22 different countries. Donations ranged from £2 to £900,000. Major building work on Iona is especially complex due to the Abbey’s remote location. 

A highlight of the mammoth fundraising campaign was what organisers call their “miracle in May”. In May 2018, £312,000 was raised in a single month, allowing work to proceed to the crucial next phase and avoiding costly and time-consuming delays. 

Each donor has their name etched in a special book that has been designed in a similar way to the Book of Kells. The Princess Royal signed the book in Iona Abbey during her visit. The book will be digitised with stories included behind each name.

The Princess Royal received a freshly baked loaf of bread from the new kitchen and a special posy from a local schoolboy. She was piped around the Abbey cloisters by three young bagpipers from the island.

Two pupils from Iona Primary School recounted the history of Iona, stretching back to 5000 BC, and welcomed Princess Anne and other guests to the celebration.