Friday, 7 September 2012

An Appreciation of Old Scottish Stately Homes and Castles (Part Five)

This is the fifth part of my gallery celebrating 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 provide a history of each home or castle however the fact that many such old homes are in ruinous, vacant or 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.

Craignethan [Tillietudlem] Castle

Craignethan Castle is a semi-ruinous early 16th century castle located by the River Nethan two miles from Crossford in Lanarkshire. Craignethan Castle is believed to be the inspiration for "Tillietudlem Castle", in Sir Walter Scott's novel, "Old Mortality" hence is often known by this name, even a local railway station carried this name. Recognised as the last purpose-built fortress to be constructed in Scotland, it is an excellent early example of a sophisticated artillery fortification while also having a remarkable tale of multiple ownership and forfeiture by the Hamilton family.

The Barony of Draffane, in which Craignethan was located, belonged to the "Black Douglases" until forced to forfeit their lands in 1455. Draffane was then given to the Hamilton family, passing from James Hamilton, the 1st Earl of Arran, to his illegitimate son James Hamilton of Finnart in 1530. The latter had travelled in Europe and become an accomplished architect and military engineer. Appointed the Kings Master of Works, his various works include not only the renaissance façades of Linlithgow Palace but also Craignethan Castle. Here he set out to build a "showcase" to display his talents in both domestic and military architecture.

Despite his earlier Royal favour, Hamilton was executed for treason in 1540, his properties being forfeited to the crown. James Hamilton, the 2nd Earl of Arran, regained Craignethan Castle two years later, adding a large outer courtyard. Arran, who became Duc de Châtellerault following Mary, Queen of Scots' marriage to the French Dauphin, served as Regent in her infancy. However, after opposed Mary's second marriage to Lord Darnley, he was forced to surrender his castles at Craignethan and Cadzow.

The situation was reversed once more following Mary's abdication, when Arran aided her escape, and thus regained his castles. Arran's son, Lord Claud Hamilton, is said to have entertained Mary at Craignethan on the night before the Battle of Langside in 1568. The battle, at which the Hamiltons fought the forces of the Regent, the 1st Earl of Moray, ended in defeat with Mary being forced to flee to England. Craignethan and Cadzow Castles were surrendered yet again and Moray personally came to receive the keys on the 15th May 1568. Lord Claud Hamilton attempted to recover the castle by force in October, and his brother Lord John Hamilton began to starve out Moray's soldiers in November. The Hamilton's had regained the Castle by March 1569.

Feuding continued between the Hamilton's and the opponents of Mary. A treaty was signed between the parties in 1573, but by 1579 the Hamilton's were outlawed, and Lord Claud Hamilton fled to France. Levies of troops were raised to capture Craignethan and Cadzow Castles, both surrendering to government forces. Craignethan Castle was then 'slighted' which involved the deliberate demolition of the north-west tower, the massive west wall, and the inner 'barmkin' [defensive enclosure], which rendered the Castle relatively defenceless.

While the Hamilton's regained Craignethan Castle it was sold in 1659 by Anne, the 3rd Duchess of Hamilton. In 1661 the new owner, the Covenanting Laird Andrew Hay, built himself a two-storey house in the south-west corner of the outer courtyard using many stones from the demolished west rampart. In 1730 Craignethan Castle was sold to Archibald Douglas, Duke of Douglas. The property passed through his descendants, the Earls of Home, the ruins being stabilised by the 12th Earl in the late 19th century. The property was given into state care by the 14th Earl in 1949, being now managed by Historic Scotland.

Craignethan is believed to be haunted by the headless spectre of Mary Queen of Scots. An apparition of a woman wearing Stuart period dress as well as mysterious pipe music, unexplained voices of women, a vague shifting apparition and a poltergeist which has been witnessed to throw things around have been noted. The temporal occupants of what is now the custodian's house, often hear the sound of women's voices talking in urgent and unhappy tones, though the subject of their discussion remains a mystery.

Wishaw House, pre 1908

Wishaw House near the town of Wishaw in North Lanarkshire was once the seat of the Hamilton family, titled Lord Belhaven and Stenton and latterly Baron Hamilton of Wishaw. The Lands of Wishaw had been bought by Hamilton of Uddsten sometimes after 1405. The central part of Wishaw House was said to date from 1665 and to have included an earlier farmhouse built in the early 16th century. The prominent Architect Gillespie Graham was commissioned by Lord Bellhaven to enlarge the existing building in 1825 while the Architect William Burn carried out unspecified alterations and additions in 1858. The large castellated house included four principal reception rooms and ten principal bedrooms. 

After the death of the 8th Lord in 1868 without a male heir the title and property then passed to his kinsmen, the title still being held in that family today. The "Wishaw estate", including Wishaw House, outbuildings and policies [grounds] finally went up for auction in November 1951, with the house and policies being purchased by the "Glasgow Builder and Demolisher", Mr Samuel B. Allison for "the bargain price of £3,550". It is most likely that crippling post-war estate duties and a reduced family income along with now altered priorities contributed to the decision to sell. Mr Allison advised that if he could not find a buyer for the house within one month that "he would make arrangements for demolition". In post-war Britain very few people would have wanted or could have afforded to take on a (then) deeply unfashionable mansion with crippling upkeep costs. At first all the interior fitting were sold. When inspected during demolition in September 1953 no evidence of an earlier structure could be discerned. This may indicate that Gillespie Graham totally removed earlier parts of the building in 1825. Original plans from 1858 and many old photographs remain.  

The former coach house, which had been sold separately remains, the present owners retaining the original stables and tack rooms. Living accommodation is on the first floor which was originally the estate offices and Factor's lodging. Other remaining estate buildings comprise the nearby Forresters Cottage and East Gate Lodge both much altered. The remaining dressed stone base course (rear) wall of Wishaw House as well as the base of a buttress are still vgisible. While of dressed stone its age is indeterminate. 

Bibliography :

- Various Internet sources
- All images are from my own collection and may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this page.


  1. Don001, my sincere thanks for taking the time to collate and post this captivating account of "Wishaw House.” Having, spent the best part of my childhood and early teens, foraging and exploring, the land on which the ruins still exist, brought back so many sweet and tender memories.

    1. Thank you for your comment and yes, lovely to remember and have such memories of our youth

  2. Growing up in Meadowhead Road, I spent many happy hours playing in the ruins of Wishaw House. As a child I loved reading the names on the headstones of Lord Belhaven's pets buried close by. The family who lived in the maisonette below ours, included someone who had worked in Wishaw House before its demolition. We also went paddling in the river which ran through the estate (the Cawther?)

  3. I was born in the cottage which stood to the rear of the gatehouse by the bridge in the glen. I have searched everywhere for a picture or more information about this cottage which is now just ruins, as is the former gate house. On my birth certificate the cottage is named as Old Flower Gardens Cottage. If there is any pictures or information about the houses in the area of the bridge (there was also a mill) I would appreciate it.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...