Home > Architecture > Cambusnethan Priory or House

Cambusnethan Priory or House

Cambusnethan Priory or House (2007)
Originally uploaded by Alex

Located near Wishaw, Lanarkshire, Scotland, was designed by James Gillespie Graham and completed in 1820. It is generally regarded as the being the best remaining example of a Graham-built country house in the quasi-ecclesiastical style of the Gothic revival. It was used as a hotel and restaurant and “mediaeval banqueting hall”, the last use being tenuously linked with William Finnemund, the 12th century, Laird of Cambusnethan.

There was originally a Norman tower house near the site of the present building, and this was replaced by a manor house during the 17th century. The manor house burned down in 1810, and the present house was commissioned and built in 1820.

The Priory was built for the Lockhart family of Castlehill and their family crest was carved 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.

There are few remaining examples of early 19th-century Gothic mansions remaining in Scotland as many were demolished in the late 1950s and 1960s. Cambusnethan House is a notable building in its own right as a good example of the Gothic style, and also because so few buildings of this type still remain.

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 been removed in the interest of safety, and there had been at a recent extension to the lower ground floor across a sunken passage across the house with a roof flush with ground level. (Source Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, now vandalised and in danger of collapse.

Other photographs of Cambusnethan Priory/House can be found on Flickr

Categories: Architecture Tags: , , ,
  1. robert mulholland
    Jan 24, 2008 at 11:15 am

    What a great shame this builging is now a ruin. I used to spend weekends there in the late 1960s as a friend of Charlie Wilson son of the owner Mr R Wilson. IT SHOULD BE SAVED!

  2. john mcdermott
    Aug 22, 2010 at 11:46 am

    i too think this beautifull house should be saved and restored, i used to work there in the late 70s with ronald wilson the owner and held the fort when he was away at his home in spain i was 15 at the time and had many happy times there

  3. James P. Jamieson
    Dec 28, 2010 at 3:50 am

    This house should be saved. It most likely (Manor or Manse) was the birthplace of John Gibson Lockhart in 1794, whose father-in-law was Sir Walter Scott. Lockhart married Scott’s eldest daughter Sophia in 1820. He also wrote the best biography of Sir Walter Scott. William Lockhart, John’s brother, built Milton-Lockhart House in 1829. THAT gorgeous mansion was sold and dismantled piece by piece in the 1980’s to a Japanese enterprenuer who renamed it LockHEART. What a cultural and historical waste not to save these wonderful houses and what a shame for Scotland to ignore them.

    • Amber
      Jun 25, 2011 at 5:26 am

      I just returned to Texas from my visit to BOTH of these homes! Sheer coincidence that the two are related. The nephew of the current owner of the Milton-Lockhart house shared a bit of history (including the part about the Japanese) and was very pleasant as we realized that we were trespassing on a private bridge while taking a stroll from our hotel. I took numerous photos, and truth be told, the priory was my favorite part of my trip! Thank-you for the insight!

    • Wes
      Aug 25, 2012 at 9:33 am

      I will be visiting from Canada in October… Is it ok to drive up and see it?

      • Alex
        Aug 25, 2012 at 10:46 am

        Yes you can drive down to the Priory although the road is in a poor state in places. Best to approach this on foot via the clyde walkway where you will be able to see the best angle and imagine the building in its former glory. The building has decayed further since these photos were taken. Enjoy your trip.

  4. James P. Jamieson
    Aug 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    If Donald Trump made this wonderful old house the centerpiece of a planned golf course, maybe then local officials might get a “wee bit miffed” and decide to save it. They never saved Milton-Lockhart (now called Lockheart Castle) from the Japanese, so why bother with an American billionaire?

    Wes, let us know what you find in October!

    Wes, the idea of taking the Clyde walkway for the best angle and imagining “the building in its former glory” is at the very heart of experiencing Scottish history. I hope those experiences never, ever become dust in the wind.

    Used to live in Ashgill, Lanarkshire as a boy.

  5. James P. Jamieson
    Aug 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Wasn’t able to edit above after posting.

    I meant Alex, not Wes when I wrote: “the idea of taking the Clyde walkway for the best angle and imagining “the building in its former glory” is at the very heart of experiencing Scottish history. I hope those experiences never, ever become dust in the wind.”

  6. Wes
    Aug 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Well God bless you both!!! Thought this thread would be too old and nobody still read it. I can’t tell you how proud I am of my Scottish heritage. I was in Edinburgh last October but never had the chance to see this magnificent structure, even in this state of disrepair. In Canada, we have a law that protects such historic structures, to prevent this kind of thing from happening. I wish I was a philanthropist and could afford to save it.
    I really appreciate the architecture and want to take pictures of some of the arches if I can maneuver around the perimeter… Oh, one other thing, someone said this is one of the most haunted places on earth… any truth to this? I will have to make sure I am out of there before sunset…LOL
    I will definitely take a pic from the walkway….
    What are your connections to this structure Alex and James? Do either of you live or lived near there?
    Thank you both for your comments and will be happy to send along pics either to your personal emails or this site if it allows pictures…
    Keep in touch!!

    • James P. Jamieson
      Aug 26, 2012 at 12:50 am

      I lived in Ashgill, a small village just SE (motorway between) of the larger town of Larkhall. My father John was the local physician in the 50’s, before we left for Canada in 63. I was eleven at the time, but before we left, my father took me to visit Craignethan “Tilly Toodlum” Castle. I’ve been interested in the old mansion and castles of Lanarkshire ever since. I cannot understand why these wonderful old mansions were simply left to rot like this. Why is Craignethan and other “castles” protected while others are left to rot? I’m assuming there must be a group responsible for this.

      • Wes
        Aug 26, 2012 at 1:11 am

        Where in Canada are you now James? I am in Kingston, Ontario….

      • James P. Jamieson
        Aug 26, 2012 at 1:28 am

        I’m in the States now but used to live in Caryle, Saskatchewan. We flew across the Atlantic back in 63, in a Trans-Canada DC-8 model 54, non-stop from Prestwick to Winnipeg. I can still remember the CKY radio jingle.

      • Wes
        Aug 26, 2012 at 1:32 am

        Wow… not thats quite a change of scenery…. from the rolling hills to the flats!!! Too bad we lost you to the States…lol. If you want pics… let me know. I can email them to you. I plan on going on October 8, God willing…

  7. Wes
    Aug 26, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Alex, Do you know where the tower house stood in relation to the house? Is there still any remnants of a fortification there? Or is the house built on top of where the tower house was?

  8. Wes
    Aug 26, 2012 at 12:29 am

    I was just looking at google Maps… Interesting that you can actually see it from highway A72 (Lanark Road)… Looks beautiful from that vantage point…

  9. James P. Jamieson
    • Wes
      Aug 26, 2012 at 1:51 am


    • James P. Jamieson
      Aug 26, 2012 at 1:53 am

      Nothing like replying to myself! LOL! This isn’t the most user friendly site. Sorry, it appears I’ve just duplicated my link above..oh well.

  10. James P. Jamieson
    Aug 26, 2012 at 1:55 am

    Wes :Thanks!!!

    You can scroll around 360 degrees and see the place is really run down.

  11. Wes
    Aug 26, 2012 at 1:56 am

    There is another good view of it from the A72, from the other side of the Clyde…

  12. James P. Jamieson
    Aug 26, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Wes :There is another good view of it from the A72, from the other side of the Clyde…

    EXACTLY! THAT is what I was trying to copy and paste above, but something failed. It’s gorgeous!

  13. Wes
    Aug 26, 2012 at 2:03 am

    I can hardly wait to go!! I am already prepared for the disrepair… Did you hear about some of the stories surrounding the place and the so called hauntings? I guess all old buildings get this label…

    • James P. Jamieson
      Aug 26, 2012 at 3:11 am

      I’ve never heard of the hauntings of this house, and you’re right in old buildings getting a haunting reputation. It never seems to keep away the vandals though does it?

  14. Wes
    Aug 26, 2012 at 2:16 am

    I have not heard of this other castle “Craignethan “Tilly Toodlum” Castle” you speak of… I have visited the website and I will visit there as well… just a short drive away… Thanks!!!

    • James P. Jamieson
      Aug 26, 2012 at 3:03 am

      Supposedly, Mary Queen of Scots was “entertained” by one of the Sir James Hamilton of Finnart at this castle. Also it’s thought Sir Walter Scott mentions this castle “Tillietudlem” (sorry for the bad spelling previous) in his novel “Old Mortality.” When I visited Tillietudlem with my father it was not being looked after as well as it is now. A friend of mine (he was 17 when I left) Andrew Hamilton, discovered a part of the castle previously never seen when he was a teenager. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craignethan_Castle

  15. James P. Jamieson
    Aug 26, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Here is information on Milton-Lockhart House, which was dismantled, stone by stone and taken to Japan where it was renamed Lockheart Castle. This was a beautiful house…http://www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/search_item/index.php?service=RCAHMS&id=200121

  16. James P. Jamieson
    Aug 26, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Milton-Lockhart Bridge across the Clyde river to the now dismantled house is worth brief stop as it still exists. The latest photograph I could find had it being worked on, which is good news. It’s located near Rosebank. If you go to Rosebank (very nice wee village) stop in at the Popinjay Hotel. Here is some information on that bridge which once linked the road to the castle..http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=35464557

  17. Wes
    Aug 26, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Thanks for all the info!!!!

  18. Penny Lockhart Pew McCutcheon
    Nov 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    This home is now featured on AOL I am interested in getting information on purchasing it, can you help?

    • Alex
      Nov 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      The building is very much a shell now. I suggest you contact the local authority, North Lanarkshire Council, whom I expect will be interested in anyone who would wish to save this building. It would be interesting if you happen to be related to the Lockhart family who built the house.

    Dec 31, 2012 at 8:20 am

    I am researching the apple variety ‘Cambusnethan Pippin’for the apple database FruitID.com , said possibly to have been bred by Mr Paton, Gardener at Cambusnethan House around 1750, or at the Cambusnethan monastery. I wonder if there are any records from the gardens from that period.

    • Jan 2, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Sorry Linda. The gardens/orchards of the former parish of Cambusnethan are long gone with no obvious place to continue your research.

        Jan 3, 2013 at 7:47 am

        Thanks. I am also confused about the name Cambusnethan Priory/House, which seems to be interchangeable. I cant find evidence that there ever was a priory, but rather just oversight of the church by the Kelso monks.

      • Alex
        Jan 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        Linda, I understand that the building is Cambusnethan House but is referred to locally as ‘the Priory’. I expect that ‘the Priory’ is a reference to the old church memorial about 3/4 mile NW at the bend of the river. It is likely that the church and surrounding area contributed much to the development of the orchards 200 years or more ago. You may be able to obtain old maps of the area from the local authority.

        Jan 11, 2013 at 7:57 am

        Thanks Alex – I will look into that

  20. Alex
    Jan 12, 2013 at 11:03 am
      Jan 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      This is fantastic Alex – thanks so much. I have ordered a copy! I will be researching other Scottish apple varities over time and so these links for Scottish resources will be useful in future too.

      • Catherine Dickson
        Jan 28, 2013 at 4:09 pm

        Clyde and Avon Valley partnership may be able to help you with your research of Scottish applr varieties.

        Jan 28, 2013 at 4:38 pm

        Thankyou. I will keep you in mind! I am part of a group compiling a database to bring together information for identifying apples.Those involved in this activity find themselves with piles of disparate and often difficult to access refererences, and so the aim is to bring together as much information into one resource as we can. It’s a longterm project as you might expect, as we gather local knowledge to add to any written references available. It is free to all users, and so you might wish to pass on the website. If you Google FruitID.com you should find it. I have now completed the document on Cambusnethan Pippin, but as I live in the north of England I am still choosing Northern/Scottish varieties to research, and provide samples for imaging as the National Fruit Collections in Kent dont give a representative looking crop! I do have some contacts in Scotland already, but local knowledge is invaluable. My next variety is Galloway Pippin.
        Thanks for getting in touch.

        Linda Blenkinship

  21. Graham Beresford
    May 24, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Can anyone help me to research Wishaw House, in Lanarkshire? It was the ancestral home of Lord Belhaven, Colonel Hamilton as my father new him, but the family inheritance was destroyed by death duties in the late 1940’s, I think. Graham Beresford.

  22. Janice Finlayson
    Apr 4, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Am living at East Lodge the gate house for Cambusnathen Priory ,am trying to find out about all the family’s who lived here I understand it was the gamekeepers cottage also if anyone has any old photos of what it looked like Thanks

    • Richard Leven
      Nov 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      My Grans family stayed in the East Lodge from what I can find when looking up family history. Their surname was Cuthill and they seemed to be there late 1800’s early 1900’s

  23. David John Tyler
    Jan 1, 2018 at 6:54 am

    My grandmother, Margaret Adelaide Kennedy, daughter of Rev Gilbert Kennedy, gives her address on documents she signed – her VAD card- to join the Red Cross in 1917 as Cambusnethan Manse. My great uncle Gilbert gives the same address on his war service record. He was killed 15 June 1915 aged 20. Could this be the priory or should I be looking for a more modest dwelling?

    • Alex
      Jan 1, 2018 at 9:29 am

      David, this is certainly the Priory. There is often confusion between the Priory and the area east of Wishaw (about 2 miles away) known as Cambusnethan where there are two churches, Cambusnethan Old Parish and Cambusnethan North. At that time, I think the manse was next to the Old Parish church on Greenhead Road, Wishaw.

  1. Jul 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm

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