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Menstrie Castle

Historic Scotland categorise Menstrie Castle as a Grade A listed building.
Menstrie Castle is part of Clackmannanshire's Tower Trail.
The Commemoration Rooms are managed by the National Trust for Scotland.

History: AD 1322 to the present day

link to larger version |d| The splendidly restored building referred to locally as "Menstrie Castle" is in fact not a castle but a fine example of a Baronial Mansion House.

The earliest date given for the existence of "Menstrie Castle" is 1322 when in the ownership of Dougal Campbell a member of the Campbell of Argyle family. The building was a favourite dwelling place of the Earls of Argyle until 1526 when title was transferred to the family of Alexander of Menstrie. The old house is most famous as the birth place of William Alexander in 1567, a poet and courtier, the friend of James VI, the Secretary of State for Scotland to Charles I, the founder and first Governor General of Nova Scotia and the First Earl of Stirling. He was subsequently granted the entire Barony of Menstrie by Archibald Earl of Argyle in 1597.

The title to the old house then passed to the Holburne family in 1649. The arms of the Holburne family |d| The Holburne family previously owned the three-storied substantial dwelling house which used to stand on Ochil Road west of the Menstrie Burn and just opposite the entrance to Deaf Hills. The family Coat of Arms was displayed above the arched entry to the house. This fine Coat of Arms can now be seen on the gable end of the house at 1 Midtown opposite the Burnside Inn. The last descendant of the Holburne family (Miss Mary Anne Barbara Holburne of Bath) in 1882 left the sum of £8000 for the building and endowment of Menstrie Parish Church.

In 1719 title to the old house passed to the Alexander family whose famous son Sir Ralph Abercrombie fell mortally wounded at the battle of Aboukir on the 21st March 1801.

The building fell vacant and became derelict in the late 1800s. The Rev. R. Menzies Ferguson writing in 1905 states-

link to larger version |d| "In the quaint red-tilled village of Menstrie, which nestles snugly at the foot of the green Ochil Hills in the eastmost nook of the parish of Logie, within five miles of Stirling, there still stands the old manor house of the Alexanders. Somewhat dilapidated, it even now presents many marked features, which distinguished it as the residence of the family which flourished there during the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries. With its baronial turret, winding stairs, carved portal arch, crow stepped gables and large, well-stocked orchards, the visitor has little difficulty in picturing to himself its importance and beauty in those early days, before railways disfigured the fertile valley of the winding Forth."

Due to the sterling efforts of the late Moultrie R. Kelsall and the late John Drysdale the old house was restored to its present state.

I would strongly commend a visit to the very excellent informative displays in the "castle's" commemoration room.

Tom Mack

Text: November 2007
Images: June 2008
Aditional references: August 2009

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