Thursday, 14 June 2012

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

This is the second 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 give a short history of each home or castle however the fact that many such old homes no longer exist or are ruinous 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. Look for highlighted links to interesting sites with further pertinent information. Any concise but abbreviated additional information to add to these entries is welcome. My email link appears at right.

Airlour House, Port William, Wigtonshire, pre 1907

Airlour House at Port William Wigtonshire is recorded as being a Dower House belonging to the Maxwell family of Monreith. A Dower House is defined as a moderately large house available for the use of a widow of an estate-owner.

The Maxwell family first acquired the Lands of Monreith in the 15th century, building Myrton Castle on the estate. Created the First Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1681, the then 4th Baronet commissioned Alexander Stevens to design and build the new family seat of Monreith House in 1791. The 9th Baronet, Sir Michael Maxwell, inherited the estate in the 1980's, the family seat of Monreith House then being in a state of disrepair. The house has now been restored and includes self-catering apartments. Airlour House itself [the Dower House] survives today set in Airlour Wood in the estate grounds.

Auchlochan House, Leshmahagow, Lanarkshire, pre 1907.

Auchlochan House at Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire appears to have been built about 1814 for the Brown family, replacing an earlier home. The Brown [also spelt Broun or Broune] family are recorded as occupying the "Lands of Townfoot of Auchlochan" at least as early as 1572 and quite possibly earlier. The name Auchlochan signifies "Field of the Small Loch".

At what point the Brown family sold Auchlochan House is unknown, the last record I can find of the Brown family at Auchlochan is 1880 although I would imagine their tenure of the property continued well into the 20th century. The house survives today on New Trows Road Lesmahagow as a base for the Christian based Auchlochan Charitable Trust, set up to provide care for the elderly with a large rest care facility and bungalows being sited in the grounds.

Footnote : Sadly, Auchlochan House, which was apparently not a listed building, was demolished June 2014.

Birkwood "Castle", Lesmahagow,
Lanarkshire, pre 1907.

Birkwood House, Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, pre 1905. 

Birkwood House [Castle] at Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire, "a handsome castellated mansion" and the seat of the McKirdy [or MacKirdy] family, is recorded as having been designed prior to 1859 by the Glasgow Architect John Baird. John McKirdy Esq. had been possessed of considerable estates in British Guiana but settled on the Lands of Birkwood at the close of the 18th century. As of 1864 Birkwood House was in the possession of his son John Gregory McKirdy Esq., "owner of 1250 acres in the shire." As of 1892 Birkwood had then passed to his son, General David Elliot McKirdy who in 1890, and at great cost, added a new wing to the house. Birkwood House became a psychiatric / learning disabilities hospital in 1923, then becoming known as "Birkwood Hospital".

Birkwood closed in 2002 and remains vacant but the interior retained many original features. Plans were revealed in 2008 to turn the now deteriorating "B Grade" listed building into a 28 bed hotel and leisure centre however the developers went into receivership in 2011. There appears to be no further news on any new development. Click Here for some interesting modern photos which includes the interior.

Update July 2015 : Part of the walls of Birkwood House have now collapsed (the end tower wing to the left of the picture above) taking with it the floors attached to it and what remains of the house continues to deteriorate from significant lack of maintenance and water damage with beautiful moulded ceiling now lying crumbled on the floor. (My thanks to Vivienne for this sad update)

Bothwell Castle, pre 1907.

Bothwell Castle is situated on a bend of the River Clyde about 10 miles south-east of Glasgow. The Barony of Bothwell came into the hands of Walter de Moravia by marriage in 1242. He began construction of the castle but only the main donjon [fortified central tower], the prison tower, and the short connecting curtain wall had been completed by the start of the Wars of Scottish Independence in 1296. King Edward I of England seized Bothwell but capitulated after being beseiged by the Scots for 14 months from 1298 to 1299. Edward returned in 1301, capturing the Castle with 6,800 men and using siege engines. The Castle then remained the headquarters of Edward's Warden of Scotland for some years.

After Robert the Bruce's victory at Bannockburn in 1314 the Castle eventually surrendered to the Scots who partially dismantled it to make it unusable as a fortress. King Edward III of England arrived in 1336 and restored the Castle, only to have it again taken back by the Scots in 1337. The fortress was again partially dismantled and remained derelict until the 1360's. A rebuilding of the Castle commenced after 1362 by Archibald Douglas, Lord of Galloway and Earl of Douglas. But in 1455, the "Black" Douglases were forfeited of their lands which then passed to the Crown. A further two forfeitures occurred and after passing through various owners, one of whom used stones from the castle's north-east tower for his new house. In 1935 the last owners, the Earls of Home, gifted the remains of Bothwell Castle to the State, now being managed by Historic Scotland.  

Bibliography :

- Internet sources
- "Scotland's Lost Houses" by Ian Gow, 2006
- All images are from my own collection and may be freely copied for non-commercial use provided a link is given back to this page.


  1. keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you for the information on Auchlochan House. The Browns of this house were my ancestors, and I appreciated being able to read this!


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