Bannockburn House is a rather special and historic place. It was built in the late 17th Century, with alterations made in the 19th Century. The original part of the house was completed around 1675 by Sir Hugh Paterson, although it’s thought to be built on an earlier building called Drummonds’ Hall. Sir John Drummond was granted the Barony of Bannockburn in 1567 by Mary Queen of Scots and his grandson built Drummonds’ Hall.
Sir Hugh Paterson purchased the land in 1672 and the house was completed in 1675. It has many interesting architectural features including the ‘Laigh Hall’ and the ‘Blue Room’ ceilings reputed to be the work of Houlbert and Dunsterfield, who were two highly skilled craftsmen who had been commissioned by Charles II to produce ornate ceilings within Holyrood Palace. You can see these magnificent ceilings in our video below.
Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed at Bannockburn House for three weeks in January of 1746. Hugh Paterson 2nd Baronet entertained Charles Edward Stuart here, where he met the Baronet’s niece, Clementina Walkinshaw, who would later become his lover and mother of his child. The Prince recuperated from illness at Bannockburn House during this time and Clementina tended to him. A painting of her hangs in Bannockburn House beneath the main ornate ceiling.
The Key of Stirling was surrendered to the Prince when his Highland army entered Stirling at 2pm on Monday 6 January 1746. The key was lost for many years and was then found at Bannockburn House in 1902.
‘The Ancient Key of Stirling’ was brought to Bannockburn House by the Curators of The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, where it is usually kept, for a short time on Wednesday 15th January 2020. This was to commemorate the 274th anniversary of that event. A very rare and special occasion indeed! We felt very honoured to be there. You’ll see photos from the event and the presentation of the key in our video below.
The Battle of Falkirk Muir took place on 17 January 1746, which was the last Battle that the Jacobites won prior to Culloden.
There have been many very interesting residents at Bannockburn House through the centuries.
When the house passed to the 2nd Baronet’s daughter, Mary, in 1787, she sold it to William Ramsey of Barnton and Sauchie. The house stayed in the Ramsey Family until it came to Sir James Ramsey Gibson-Maitland, who sold it to Alexander Wilson in 1883. Alexander was a member of the famous Bannockburn weaving family of Wilson. Alexander made many additions and changes to the house, including a new porch entrance and extension to the library and office, and above the main doorway a recess to accommodate a coat of arms which now is empty.
In 1910 Bannockburn House was sold to the Sheriff Substitute of Stirling at the time, James Mitchell. In 1962 Mitchell’s daughter sold the house, after living in it for 32 years. She sold the house to the multi-property owning millionaire A.E Pickard. More recently it was owned by Peter Drake and it was placed on the market for sale in February 2016.
Bannockburn House Trust was formed in 2017 to raise the funds to purchase the house for the Community.
From their website “The Bannockburn House Trust completed the biggest community buyout in the UK, with the majority of assistance from the Scottish Land Fund (Scottish Government agency) who granted the trust with enough funds to purchase the house and grounds. This was only able to happen because of the dedicated group of local volunteers who made it their life’s work to save this historically significant and beautiful building (and grounds).”
Now, the team of volunteers do an amazing job to preserve the history of this magnificent house and gardens and make it available for the public to enjoy. They work tirelessly to restore this historical house to its former glory, room by room. One thing stood out so clearly – their love for the place is tangible and contagious. It is so clear to see why they love this beautiful place so much, because we have fallen head over heels in love with it too.
There are a few ghostly residents here too! We were shown around the house by a well respected Spiritual Investigator and spent around 40 minutes with her. We’d arrived just before 10am and were on the first leg of the house tour when 15 minutes into our tour she mentioned that the Ancient Key to Stirling would be arriving within the hour. I looked at my watch and it read 10.17am, which would have been correct. Twenty or so minutes later, she told us about the ghosts that walk the halls of Bannockburn House, and she said that watches often stop in the house. I immediately looked at my watch, and it read 10.17am. Yes, my watch had stopped at the same time I’d looked at it 20 minutes earlier!
At the end of the tour we had a cup of tea in one of the downstairs rooms and were chatting with our guide, when something started tugging on my handbag behind me. It was quite a few forceful tugs, and this happened at the same time she was telling us about the child ghost that remains in the house. Thinking that someone was trying to get my attention, I turned around quickly only to find that there was no one anywhere near me. Strange! You bet! But the one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that none of the energies we felt there were negative. The house has a wonderful, welcoming energy about it that is filled with intrigue and mystery. It’s a very special place indeed.
Bannockburn House also featured in a Channel 5 Drama called ‘The Small Hand’ based on a ghost story book by Susan Hill.
In 1972 part of the house caught ablaze, but thankfully was contained within one room. Today that room still stands charred, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Once fireplace in particular stands as a reminder, along with the strong doors that contained the fire. You can see that room in the video below.
The volunteers offer tours of Bannockburn House through the seasonal months for a small donation, and we cannot recommend a visit highly enough. It is a must-see with so much history associated. We will definitely be visiting again and look very forward to doing so. Their volunteer guides will tell you the story behind each room, and they are stories definitely worth hearing.
We would like to extend our deepest thanks to the wonderful volunteers at Bannockburn House Trust for inviting us along on this very special day, and to The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum for bringing the key to Bannockburn House. The Museum in Stirling is packed floor to ceiling with historic artefacts and is definitely worth a visit.
We hope you enjoy your glimpse into Bannockburn House.
Photos by Andrew Nicholson.