Mauldslie Castle

When John Craig moved his architect’s office in Edinburgh, in 1989, he found two faded pink files containing handwritten copies of old documents given to him by an elderly gentleman years ago. He said I should use the information to write a book about Dalserf, a charge which he repeated on other occasions. Even though I emphatically declined, John gave me the files.

Fifteen years later, I discovered that one of the files contained excerpts from the sale catalogue of Mauldslie Castle. My grandfather had gone on Sunday school picnics into the grounds at Mauldslie when he lived in Dalserf, so I became quite interested. The catalogue stated that ‘The estate lies in a fertile and beautiful district between Lanark and Hamilton . . . in the Valley of the Clyde . . . whilst the Villages of Rosebank and Dalserf practically adjoin the Estate.’ The sale of the entire 457 acres was held at The Riding School at Mauldslie Castle on 3 November 1933, at two o’clock in the afternoon.

The estate map that accompanied the sale had been copied on tracing paper, revealing some interesting names and places. Besides the castle, there were Mauldslie Mains, Mauldslie Bridge and Mauldslie Kennels (my favourite). Then there were Jock’s Gill Wood, Whorley Burn and Whorleyburn Cottages, Gillbank, Burnetholm, Rams Gill, Annsfield, Haugh Hill, Castle Hill—and to the east of Dalserf Manse, Tod Burn and Tod Burn Gill. The North, East and West Lodges dotted the map. You could also see the Hallcraig Brick Works, as well as the site of St Luke’s Church and Cistereian Abbey, which the note taker believed to be the Abbey of Mauldslie.

Evocative as these names were, the legend of the word Mauldslie was even more fascinating, as an unnamed source explained in what appeared to be a newspaper article written around the time of the sale:

Mauldslie Castle and its beautiful grounds occupy an area of land that was originally known as the Forest of Mauldslie, and which in turn was once part of the great Caledonian Forest. The Abbey of Mauldslie, founded in the sixth century, stood in the Forest of Mauldslie at a place later known as Abbey Steads, near the castle, and from it the whole of the parish of Carluke originally bore the name of Forest Kirk. It was at Forest Kirk, in 1297, that [Sir William] Wallace, after winning the Battle of Biggar, was made Guardian of Scotland. With regard to the name of Mauldslie there is a legend to the effect that it is derived from a woman named Mauld, who grazed her cows in the beautiful sward [meadow] upon which Mauldslie now stands. This legend states that when the old mansion was being built a different site was at first chosen. Each morning the builders found demolished what they had built the previous day. A watch was kept at night and a ghostly voice was heard saying:

‘Build the house where it should be,
Build it upon old Mauld’s Lea.’

The advice was taken, and the old mansion of Mauldslie was erected on a site between the present castle and the gardens near the Abbey of Mauldslie.

The castle itself was described in ‘a work published in 1891’, which the note taker quoted as follows:

Mauldslie Castle is a stately mansion in Carluke Parish, Lanarkshire, near the right bank of the Clyde, West of Carluke town. It was built from designs by Adam in 1792–3 for Thomas, fifth Earl of Hyndford, and is a large two-storey edifice with round flanking towers, its site being a level, richly wooded park backed by rising ground picturesquely mantled with orchards and woods. The appellation ‘Mauldslie’ originally applied to the whole parish of Carluke, and in the times of John Baliol and Robert de Bruce was a royal forest. It was gradually broken up by the latter, and gifted to persons of distinction. From about the middle of the fourteenth century till 1402 the barony of Mauldslie was held by the Danyelstowns; from 1402 till the first half of the seventeeth century by the Maxwells; and from 1649 till 1817 by the Carmichaels, its two last holders being fifth and sixth Earls of Hyndford, a title which became extinct with the decease of the latter in 1817.

Returning to the newspaper article, the story continued:

The present Mauldslie Castle was first erected by the fifth Earl of Hyndford, and was later extended and was modernised by the first Lord Newlands, who was raised to the peerage in 1898, and was succeeded by his son the late Lord Newlands in 1906. The latter as Hon. James H. C. Hozier, sat as the representative of South Lanark in Parliament from 1886 till 1906. Sir James Baird, the present proprietor of Mauldslie . . . is a nephew of the late Lord Newlands. Many stirring scenes have been witnessed at Mauldslie Castle in connection with the elections in South Lanark. When the news arrived in 1886 that Mr J. H. C. Hozier had defeated Major, afterwards Lord Hamilton, by eighteen votes, -people from miles around flocked to Mauldslie Castle, and this took place at every subsequent election. . . . The visit of the King and Queen to Mauldslie Castle about twenty years ago [July 1914] is one of the red–letter days in the annals of this historic Lanarkshire residence.

In the sale catalogue the castle was described as ‘an important and Substantial Structure built of stone with slated roof . . . turreted and castellated in the Baronial style’, occupying ‘a lovely position in the Park overlooking the River Clyde’. The sellers felt that the estate might become ‘a Country Club, Rest Home, [or] School’.

The elderly note taker ended his handwritten file with this comment: ‘It was Sir James Baird and Lady Baird who put the Mauldslie estate up for sale in 1933. It was a tragic loss for Rosebank in many ways.’

And now it is time to close the faded pink files.