Tuesday, 6 November 2012

An Appreciation of old Scottish Country Stately Homes and Castles (Part Eight)

This is the eighth 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.

The Lee [Lee Castle], Lanark

The Lee at Lanark, also known as Lee Castle, is a category B listed castellated mansion in Auchenglen, South Lanarkshire. The gardens are also classed as significant.

William Locard had been granted the feudal barony of Lee in 1272. A descendant, Sir William Lockhart of Lee (1621 -1675) fought for the Royalist cause in the English Civil War, but switched sides, and later married the niece of Oliver Cromwell. In 1652 Lockhart was appointed Cromwell's Commissioner for the Administration of Justice in Scotland, also serving in 1656 as English Ambassador at the French court. His son and heir, Sir George Lockhart of Lee (1673–1731), acted as a Commissioner for the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707, but later adopted the Jacobite cause. He was involved in the Jacobite Rising of 1715 but escaped serious punishment. George's grandson, another George, fought with the Jacobites in the 1745 Rising, being later forced into exile. The property then came into the hands of a younger brother, James (who had been made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1782), after staging the death of his traitorous older brother. His successor, Alexander Lockhart Lee, a member of Parliament for Berwick-upon-Tweed, was made first Baronet in 1806.

While a house existed at The Lee, the form at this time is unknown. The 2nd Baronet, Sir Charles Lockhart (1799–1832) built a new house at Lee in 1817, but shortly after his death the 3rd Baronet, Sir Norman Lockhart (1802–1849), commissioned the Architect James Gillespie Graham to design a much larger house. Work began in 1834, incorporating the earlier building, and continued until 1845. In 1919 the Baronetcy became extinct. A kinsman of the Lockhart family (who then changed his name to Lockhart) inherited the house and estate in 1948 but later sold the house and Barony of Lee to a Mr Alvis in 1978, apparently to pay increased taxation. The house and Title were then sold to a Canadian, Mr Leslie Peters. Shortly after moving in a disastrous fire caused much damage but was fully restored using traditional materials and craftsmanship. After Mr Peters died in 2002 the house, along with 260 acres, were sold in 2003 to an American, Mr Addison McElroy Fischer, who is now titled "The 35th Baron of Lee". The house is not open to the public but appears to be very well maintained.

Broomhill House and Millhaugh Bridge at Larkhall, Lanarkshire, pre 1908.

Broomhill House at Larkhall in Lanarkshire may have been built by John Birnie of Broomhouse after he acquired considerable wealth, possibly as early as 1637. The Birnies are recorded as occupying Broomhill for over 180 years before passing to James Bruce in 1817. Having apparently been successful in business in India, he returned and settled down at Broomhill as a country Laird. Unfortunately his death in 1835 led to extensive litigation until 1847.

In 1902, the then sea-fearing owner of Broomhill, Captain McNeil returned home with a beautiful Indian Princess called Sita ['The Black Lady']. The story is told that she was ignorant of Edwardian customs, becoming a social outcast and an embarrassment to the Captain who then forbid her from leaving the house except at night. After two years house staff reported no sign of her and were informed that she had returned to India. But staff had not witnessed her departure and locals became suspicious. She soon returned in ghostly form, beckoning to passers-by from a window at Broomhill. She was then seen roaming the surrounding orchards and the area known as Morgan Glen. In the 1960s a television documentary team visited Larkhall and attempted to perform the first televised exorcism. The cameras were frozen over in fine weather and after filming finished the director was killed in a road crash on his way to another location. He was found with a fence post impaled in his heart.

Broomhill House itself no longer exists having fallen into disrepair in the 1960s and eventually being demolished. Door lintels from Broomfield were used in the Applebank Inn which sits below where the house stood. There have been reports of paranormal activity in the Inn since these artifacts were installed. Many local residents have seen 'the Black Lady' and indeed an investigator managed to capture her ghostly image in the 1970s.

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.

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