The ferry journey between Leverburgh and Berneray passes a host of apparently inaccessible and deserted islets and islands – including Ensay (Easaigh) derived from the Old Norse meaning ‘Ewe Island’ – and is the topic of an Islands Book Trust Excursion this month.
Although Ensay once supported a population of over a hundred, it has had no permanent residents since the 1930s. The island is one and a half miles long and a mile wide, well renowned for its arable pastures it boasts a grey stone mansion and a sixteenth century chapel, known as Christ Church chapel.
The congregation of Christ Church Harris continue to make an annual pilgrimage to Ensay to worship there. Nearby is a solitary standing stone and also the remains of an older, fourteenth century chapel, now buried so far beneath the sand that only the tips of the gable ends peek through.
Beside this later chapel is an ancient graveyard. Rising up above the beach, Ensay House (Taigh Easaigh) dates from the Edwardian period.
Jessie Scott, resident at Ensay House loving restored Christ Church chapel and when she died in 1931 left the church to the Scottish Episcopal Church with various conditions including that it was to remain in good repair and be used for Holy Communion. The Islands Book Trust excursion to the island will include a talk on site by Tony Scherr who for nearly 30 years held the Guardianship of Ensay until he recently retired. The trip will depart Leverburgh, Isle of Harris at 11am on Saturday 19th July and booking is essential. Bring a picnic, relax and enjoy this unique opportunity to take a glimpse into a different time in history. Cost per person is £50 and booking can be made by phone or email, 01851 880737 or firstname.lastname@example.org