Built in 1894, Bishop's House on Iona is a retreat house taking groups and individuals daily and weekly. It is situated close to Iona Abbey and looks out to the tranquil setting of the Sound of Iona. The beautiful Columba's Chapel is situated right in the heart of the house. Bishop's House has a fine tradition of good wholesome home cooking.
Bishop's House has space for up to 23 people accommodated in 8 twin and 7 single rooms. Since this is primarily a retreat house guests are asked to help with keeping their own rooms during their stay and helping to lay and clear away before and after meals. We find that this time helping each other gives more of a sense of community within the house. St Columba's chapel is open all day. In summer the Eucharist is celebrated daily, and all are welcome to attend this service.
Bishop's House is now offering the opportunity of self-catering over the winter months. A new way to enjoy being on Iona in a different session. Our most affordable way to be on Iona.
Bishop's House was founded in 1894 by the Lord Bishop of Argyll and the Isles Alexander Chinnery-Haldane, as a centre of Prayer, Study and Eucharist on the island of Iona, a charter we still uphold.
The House was originally called Saint Columba’s House after the chapel at its centre which is dedicated to the Saint. Bishop Haldane’s persistent involvement led to islanders calling the house Bishop’s House, a name that continues down to the present. We have welcomed guests for over a century making us the oldest retreat house on the island.
The house was originally entrusted to the Order of Saint John the Evangelist, the Cowley Fathers. The house reverted to Diocesan stewardship shortly after the First World War, since then the house has been run by a succession of Wardens. Despite many changes down the years the house still has the charm and character of the Victorian Anglican revival in Scotland.
Iona has been a spiritual centre for the whole of Scotland since the time of Saint Columba who founded his monastery on the island in 563. Throughout the Middle Ages, Iona was an artistic centre for monumental stone carving and manuscript production. The book of Kells originated on the island; only being taken to Kells for safe keeping from Viking raiders. The artistic tradition continues on the island, having enjoyed a major revival in the late Victorian era. Saint Columba’s chapel contains its share of art work including a number of Richie brasses. Bishop's House continues to be a patron of the arts and thanks to a generous legacy left to the Friends of Bishop's House in 2010 we installed new chapel windows by glass artist Anita Pate.
The Episcopalian traditions of Worship are contained in the chapel including a regular Eucharist. The south wing of the house reflects the feeding of people which is key to retreats at Bishops House. In the chapel the soul is fed, next door is the dining room, place of food for the body, beyond which is the library, where minds receive sustenance. Until at the south end of the house you reach the lounge home of good company. Bishops House offers a unique space to receive God’s goodness on this, one of the most spiritual islands in the world.
And rounded stones
On the southern shores
of that Blessed Isle
Of many a storm
Softly eased back
Beneath the feet
Of the Time Travellers
A gentle breeze
Pressed against their cloaks
And a lone gannet
Screeched its welcome
To Column Cille