Thursday 27 September 2012

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

This is the sixth 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.

Cambusnethan House [Castle], Wishaw, pre 1906.

Cambusnethan House (also known as Cambusnethan Castle or Priory) at Wishaw was built by the Architect James Gillespie Graham and completed in 1820, replacing an earlier 17th century manor house which burnt down in 1810. A Norman tower house had also occupied a site nearby. Cambusnethan House was built for the Lockhart family whose crest appeared above the main entrance and etched in every balustrade of the main staircase inside. The crest represents a casket, heart and lock and derives from the tradition that the ancestors of this family carried Robert the Bruce's heart back from the holy land.

The house is two and three storeys high with turrets at each corner, a three-storey bow in the west elevation and a massive square porch. Characteristically, the house was very ornately decorated with a variety of architectural details; castellated roof lines, scrolled pinnacles, narrow pointed windows and drip moulds, and various cornices, besides carved motifs and decorated chimneys. Some of the ornate pinnacles have now been removed in the interest of safety.

Cambusnethan House was saved from demolition by being privately purchased in 1967. From 1973 it served as a hotel and restaurant before closing in 1984 due to bankruptcy. It has since been vacant, the interior stripped, falling prey to vandalism, and after a major fire in 1985 is now roofless and in a deplorable condition. The west section of the south elevation has now collapsed. It does however appear that objections to and refusal of planning permission for a new development on the grounds including the house has seriously hindered any chance of saving the building. Cambusnethan House is generally regarded as being the best remaining example of a Graham-built country house in the quasi-ecclesiastical style of the Gothic revival. The sad demise of this attractive building is to be regretted. 

The Ross, Motherwell, pre 1905

The Ross at is a very large "B" grade listed baronial mansion situated in parkland between Motherwell and Hamilton. The core is formed by a building dating from 1783. In 1889, the owner, Colonel H H Robertson Aikman, commissioned the Architect Alexander Cullen to reconstruct The Ross in the Scottish Baronial Style perfected by David Bryce. Cullen's plans were widely published as well as being exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, thus firmly establishing his reputation.

Situated within spacious grounds the house includes "a garden front with 6-storey cornertower to left, advanced bay to right with bartizans [projecting turrets] and 1st floor oriel [projecting bay window], elaborate Craigievar string coursing [a thin projecting course of stone running horizontally around a building] with canon spouts, gabled dormers, strapwork [decorative motis in relief] and pediment overthrows to mullioned windows, half columned porch with catilevered balcony to left. Enclosed service courtyard with tower." [Source : British Listed Buildings]

The property is well maintained, having the good fortune to have remained in the ownership of descendants of the Aikman family, the present owner being Mr Robert John Graham-Campbell. You can read some interesting information about the family and view some period images of The Ross HERE.

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.

Thursday 20 September 2012

The Festival of Harvest Thanksgiving

Harvest Thanksgiving Display,
Lesmahagow Parish Church [Church of Scotland],
Lanarkshire, Scotland, pre 1908
[From my own collection] 

The annual Church celebration of Harvest Thanksgiving or Harvest Festival traditionally takes place in Great Britain on the Sunday closest to the Autumn equinox. In the Southern Hemisphere this celebration naturally takes place in March. While  the celebration of Harvest Festival is a relatively modern element of Protestant Church worship such celebrations have taken place since time immemorial.

"A Dancing Bacchante at Harvest Festival"
by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1880
[Source : Wikipaintings]

In ancient Egypt, a statue of Min, the god of vegetation and fertility, would be erected on the harvested fields. There was a parade which even the Pharaoh participated in, as well as music, dance and sport. It is said that the farmers pretended to be sad and wept when they cropped the corn, to deceive and appease the spirits of the earth.

"The Cadence [passage or progression] of Autumn",
by Evelyn de Morgan, 1905
[Source : Wikipedia]

In ancient Greece, married women paid tribute to the Goddess Demeter during the three day festival of Thesmosphoria. Demeter presided over grains, the fertility of the earth as well as the sanctity of marriage, the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. The annual festival commenced on the first day with the building of leaf huts for their three day 'camp' on the hillside of the Thesmophorion (the hillside sanctuary of Demeter Thesmophoros), fasting on the second day, and the ritualistic offering of seeds, cakes and pork to Demeter on the third day.

The ancient Romans celebrated the Harvest Festival of "Cerelia" on the 4th October paying tribute to Ceres, the Goddess of agriculture and the grain harvest.  Offerings of the first fruits of the harvest as well as pigs were made to Ceres, the celebrations including music, parades, games and sports as well as a thanksgiving feast.

"Bringing in the Harvest", Heddon Bush, New Zealand, 1920's.
[From my own collection]

A harvest "offering" is in fact mentioned in the Bible :

"In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the first born of his flock. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour."
- Genesis 4:3-5 (clicking this link provides some insight into these verses)

In Britain, as in other countries, the custom of celebrating the annual harvest, had formed a part of pagan worship for centuries and even the Masonic Lodges included such worship as part of their rituals. When King Henry VIII of England broke away from the Catholic Church in 1534, he ended 'Lammas' [meaning 'loaf mass'], the practice of celebrating Harvest Festival on the 1st August, whereby farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. The loaves were then used during a special mass thanking God for the harvest. Thereafter farmers continued to celebrate the succesful harvest with a feast on Michaelmas Day, generally by cooking a stuffed goose.

The 53 surviving English Pilgrims celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving
outdoors at Plymouth, [Massachusetts], America in 1621.
From an oil painting by Jennie A Brownscombe, 1914
[Source : Wikipedia]  

The modern British church celebration of Harvest Thanksgiving commenced in 1843 when the Rev. Robert Hawker of the Anglican Church at Morwenstow in Cornwall, England invited his parishioners to a special thanksgiving service to celebrate the succesful harvest. Victorian hymns such as "We plough the fields and scatter" and "Come ye thankful people, come" then helped to popularise the celebration of the harvest thanksgiving which soon spread around the country and as an accepted part of Protestant Church worship including within the Church of Scotland. Additionally it became the custom to decorate churches with home-grown produce specifically for the Harvest Festival service.

"Now with your joyous tribute come,
And taste, at length, the bliss that springs
From the deep, grateful sense of things : 
Let heaven's high praises wide be heard,
And every heart to sing be stirred."

[Waiareka Harvest Festival, Otago, New Zealand 17.3.1880]

The harvest drying in the sun, Heddon Bush, New Zealand, c.1920's

"One great lesson harvest teaches, 
is that it yields only what has been sown. 
Our great Master and Teacher taught us to 
expect the same in our lives

["The Outlook", Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, 1902]

Bibliography :

- Various Internet sources
- Images are only from my own collection where specifically noted and may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this site.

Friday 14 September 2012

Late Victorian & Edwardian Era Scottish Passenger Steamers (Part Three)

This is the third part of my gallery featuring a series of views of late Victorian to Edwardian era Scottish passenger paddle and screw steamers. Sadly few examples of this type of transport remain, let alone in operation.

"S.S. May Queen" on the Forth & Clyde Canal

The "S.S. May Queen" was built by P McGregor & Sons of Kirkintilloch for cruises on the narrow Forth and Clyde canal, being launched on the 13th May 1903. She is recorded as having been sold in 1917 to Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Company, Hepburn-on-Tyne.

A reader has subsequently advised me that, "after being sold to Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Company the S. S. "May Queen" was then sold to the Millom and Askam Hematite Iron Mining Company Limited in 1935, where she was used as a tug for the company on the River Duddon. She was broken up and scrapped in early 1953." My very grateful thanks go to this reader for the update.

The "PS Columba" at Ardrishaig, circa 1890's

The two-funnelled Paddle Steamer "Columba", viewed here at Ardrishaig, had been built by Messrs J & G Thomson in 1878 for David MacBrayne Royal Mail Steamers Ltd. At over 300 feet in length with a curved bow and magnificently fitted out, she was considered one of the most majestic paddle steamers ever built. She remained on the Tarbert to Ardrishaig route for the whole length of her ocean-going service, visiting the latter town 5,600 times. The cream of Victorian and Edwardian society regularly sailed on P.S. Columba as part of the "Royal Route" to shoots and lodges in the Highlands which may account for her high standard of fitting out. Uniquely she carried a Post Office - the first floating Post Office in the United Kingdom - as well as a Barbers. An ornate barometer which graced her Post Office may now be viewed in the Scottish Maritime Museum. After serving for an impressive 58 summers she was sold to the shipbreakers Arnott & Young and scrapped at Dalmuir in March 1936.    

"P.S. The Queen" leaving Tarbert Pier on Loch Lomond

This "oilette" style postcard copy of a painting is believed to portray the Paddle Steamer "The Queen" departing Tarbert Pier on Loch Lomond. "P.S. The Queen", a two cylinder non-compound steamer had been built in 1883 by Caird and Company of Greenock for the North British Steam Packet Company of Ballch, being the first Loch Lomond steamer to be built of steel.
With both the North British Railway and Caledonian Railway Companies having joint ownership of the Vale of Leven stretch of line, both companies had access to Balloch Pier on Loch Lomond. From 1896, when the Caledonian Railway reached Balloch, ownership of the Loch Lomond steamers then fell under "The Dumbarton and Balloch Joint Line Committee". Their steamers sported red funnels with a black top and a new pennant flying from the masthead.
By 1909 the state of "P.S. The Queen" led to thoughts of a replacement, being eventually scrapped in 1910 and broken-up at Balloch about 1911. This postcard is dated 1905.

Passengers waiting for a steamer at Tarbet Pier, Loch Lomond

Further up Loch Lomond lies Tarbet, the village being well placed to the the Arrochar and Tarbet station on the North British Railway line north to Fort William and Mallaig and south to Glasgow. The relatively small Tarbet Village was thus a popular stopping off and arrival point for both railway and steamer passengers. This postcard dates from 1905.

Bibliography :

- Internet Sources 
- All images are from my own personal collections and may be freely copied for non-commercial use provided a link is given back to this page.

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.