Friday 11 November 2011

An Appreciation of Old Scottish Stately Homes & Castles (Part One)

This gallery celebrates Scottish stately homes and castles. The images in this gallery were taken during the Edwardian period and are from my own family collection. I have attempted to give a short history of each home or castle however the fact that some of these old homes no longer exist is to be regretted. The loss of any historic building is indeed unfortunate so this gallery also serves as a celebration of this lost heritage and the various families over the centuries who built and owned these fascinating properties.

Carfin House, Crossford, Lanarkshire. Pre 1909

Carfin House at Crossford was the residence of the Graeme Family who were wine importers. As of 1915 the family employed a total of 15 staff. The Graeme family went bankrupt during the depression with Carfin House unfortunately being demolished in 1937. Carfin today appears to be commemorated by a housing estate on the former grounds known as "Carfin House". Various lodges used for staff housing on the original grounds may still be extant.

Rowallan Castle, East Ayrshire

Rowallan Castle is located near Kilmaurs 5km from Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire. The oldest part of the Castle appears to date back to the 13th century with the southern addition built in 1562. The Castle and Barony have been variously owned or held by the Muir [Mure] family, the Earls of Glasgow, the Earls of Loudon [Campbell family], the Barons Rowallan [Corbett family] and more recently by the developer, Niall Campbell but under the guardianship of Historic Scotland. Modernisation took place between 1901 and 1906 under the noted Architect Sir Robert Lorimer but with the historic fabric of the building retained.
Elizabeth, an earlier member of the Mure family had been the mistress then later the wife of  Robert, High Steward of Scotland, and Guardian of Scotland, later becoming King Robert II of Scotland in 1371. Rowallan Castle was used as a secret meeting place for Protestant Religious 'conventicles' during the Covananting years of the 17th century, attracting the unwanted attention of the Government authorities.

Mauldslie Castle, Carluke, Lanarkshire

Mauldslie Castle Gatehouse, Carluke, Lanarkshire

Mauldslie Castle by the River Clyde 2½ miles west of Carluke in Lanarkshire was designed and built for the Fifth Earl of Hyndford by the noted Architect Robert Adam in 1792-93. Along with the estate it was secured by Mr James Hozier in 1850, the house and estate later being owned by his Grandson, the Rt Hon. Lord Newlands.
Baronial styled additions were made in 1860 with the bridge, West Lodge and gates built in 1861. A new dining room followed in 1891. The elegant Gate House survives however Mauldslie Castle itself was demolished in 1935, a sewage works now occupies the site.

Rothesay Castle, Isle of Bute, pre 1905

 Rothesay Castle, Isle of Bute, pre 1908

Rothesay Castle on the Isle of Bute dates back to the early 13th century and has truly experienced first hand the myriad vagaries of Scottish history. Originally constructed by the Stewart family the castle fell victim early on to Viking Norsemen raiders in the 1230's then again in 1263. With Viking influence in Scotland vanquished after the Battle of Largs, the Castle was then occupied by the English during the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. The castle then entered a peacable phase, becaming a favourite residence of the Scottish Stewart Kings into the 15th century. New building work took place in the early 16th century only for the house to then fall to the Earl of Lennox acting for the English during the 'Rough Wooing' in 1544.  In the 1650's Rothesay was variously occupied by Royalist forces then forces loyal to Oliver Cromwell during the 'Commonwealth'. Upon leaving in 1660 troops partially dismantled the castle with what remained being burnt in 1685 by supporters of the 9th Earl of Argyll in support of the Monmouth Rebellion against King James VII [King James II of England].
From 1816 the 2nd then later the 3rd Marquess of Bute excavated the site, restoring parts of the structure, a process which continued until 1900. Gifted to the State in 1961, the Castle ruins are now administered by Historic Scotland.

 Caprington Castle, Kilmarnock, Lanarkshire, pre 1907

Caprington Castle is a battlemented mansion erected about 1820 by Sir William Cuninghame but incorporating an earlier fortress and tower which is said to date from the 15th century with 17th-18th century alterations. The whole has been completely restored and modernised, losing its original character. The castle remains the private residence of the Cunninghame family but the gardens may be viewed on open certain days during the year.

Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries, pre 1909

Caerlaverock Castle on the Solway Firth south of Dumfries is a moated triangular shaped castle built by Herbert Maxwell in the 13th century. His Grandson became Lord Maxwell of Caerlaverock with the Baronies of Maxwell and Caerlaverock being passed down through the male line. Being close to the English border Caerlaverock Castle had to be defended several times, notably in 1300 when King Edward I of England laid siege. Possession of the castle was subsequently restored to Sir Eustace Maxwell, who afterwards gave his adherence to Robert Bruce of Scotland. In consequence the English forces again laid siege to the castle but were unsuccessful. However, fearing that this important stronghold might still ultimately fall into the hands of the English enabling them to make good their hold on the district, Sir Eustace Maxwell dismantled the fortress, a service and sacrifice for which he was liberally rewarded by Robert Bruce.
Parts of the castle were then rebuilt in the 15th century. After a siege in 1640 which pitted the steadfast Catholic Maxwells against angry Protestant factions the castle was permanently abandoned. During the battle the south wall and tower were demolished and remain so to this day.

Auchtyfardle House, Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, pre 1907

The early history of Auchtyfardle House appears to be shrouded in the mists of time. The estate is known to have been in the possession of John Weir in 1546. The Weir family, like many, adhered to the cause of Queen Mary of Scots. The family are noted in the list of parties indicted for the murder of Mary's second - and then estranged - husband, the unpopular Lord Darnley. Owned by the Kennedy family (perhaps through marriage) after 1642, a reference refers to 'The Laird of Auchtyfardle'. In 1784 the estate was sold by James Kennedy to Hugh Mosman Esq.
Built over 'various periods', the house is described in the 'Annals of Lesmahagow' (written prior to 1864) as 'commodious and comfortable, though not possessing much architectural beauty'. This will likely not include the additions undertaken by the Architect David Bryce in 1864. Like so many large homes, it was used as a military hospital during the First World War. The house and policies appear to have been sold by a "J & A Anderson" in 1920, the house itself eventually being demolished in Feb 1957.

Tuliallan Castle Gardens, Kincardine, Fife

Tuliallan Castle, from the Gaelic Tulach-Aluin ('beautiful knoll'), lies among 90 acres of parkland just north of the Kincardine Bridge in Fife. Built in 1812-1820 for George Keith Elphinstone, a senior officer serving Lord Nelson, and funded from money received from 'prize ships' and using forced labour which was said to included French prisoners of war from the Napoleonic Wars.
Used as the Scottish Headquarters of the Polish Armed Forces in the West during World War Two, the castle has since 1954 been used as the Scottish Police College. It is unknown whether this seemingly beautiful herbaceous bordered walk survives.

Garrison House, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, pre 1905

Garrison House at Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae was built in 1745 as the residence of the Captain and officers of the Revenue Cutter the ‘Royal George’. Stationed at Millport, the 'Royal George' played a key role in the Revenue (customs) ‘hot pursuit’ of smugglers.  In 1908, the arts and crafts architect Robert Weir Schultz remodelled both the house and gardens, including the sunken garden to the front of the house. It is one of the few examples of the architect’s work in Scotland and has significant historical merit. After a rich and varied history, including being the home of the Bute family, a spa hotel, and housing the local Council Offices, Garrison House was unfortunately badly damaged after an arson attack in 2001 and then considered by many to only be fit for demolition. But saved by the local community, and with restoration grants of £5 million, Garrison House re-opened in 2008. It now houses the Museum of the Cumbraes, a library, council offices, a GP surgery and the Garrison Cafe.

 Greenan Castle, Ayr
Greenan Castle is a 16th century rectangular tower-house built on a sheer cliff on the Ayrshire coast, possibly on the site of the ancient earthwork and timber fortalice built by Roger de Scalebrock in the 12th century. The Davidson family owned the previous stone fortilice which stood on this site in the 15th century.
The entrance lintel of the present tower-house carries the inscription 'JK 1603 FMD' for John Kennedy of Baltersan and his third wife, Florence MacDowell who held the lands of Greenan, Greenan Mill and salmon fishing rights on the River Doon. 
Of the three storeys and a garret, the tower was once crowned with crow-stepped gables, three corballed angle turrets, and on the north-west angle, a caphouse and stair-head. The original entrance was at first floor level but a second entrance has been cut through the chamfered base-plinth, into the vaulted basement. 
Besides the tower there are traces of a walled courtyard and outbuildings which were probably stables and a kitchen block as the small tower has no kitchen within its walls.

Bibliography :

- Internet sources
- "Scotland's Lost Houses" by Ian Gow, 2006


  1. Love the photos of Mauldslie Castle and Gatehouse. My great and great great grandparents worked there as gardeners and coachmen.

    Margaret Ness

  2. Great to meet you. What a wonderful connection to your interests. Dr B K Nelson, Lord Lade

  3. My Great Grandfather was a Forester and then later on Head forester there. I would be interested to know why a place like that was pulled down.

  4. Was that Carfin House, Mauldslie Castle or Auchtyfardle House?

  5. Are you asking me Don. If so, all I know was that he worked at Mauldslie castle as a forrester, and interestingly enuough live in the gate house at Milton Lanark.

  6. Thanks. I see that the 2nd Baron Newlands (of Mauldslie Castle) died in 1929 with an estate valued at £424,500 but without issue and the Title became extinct. Inheritance tax would also have been payable. His wife died shortly afterwards. If the house had to be sold it would not have been a good time to find a buyer who wanted - or could continue to fund - a large rambling and (then) very unfashionable country castle with crippling upkeep costs. It was often cheaper to remove their roofs to avoid continuing taxes! Look at and

  7. Thanks Don very very interesting :)


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