Mansions in Mearns

Image of Balgray House, Mearns

Balgray House

Balgray House in Newton Mearns, thought to have been built in the late 19th Century, is now a category 'B' listed building. It was one of the last of the Mearns "big houses", still standing in farmland on the western edge of the parish.

The house and lands of Balgray was an ancient inheritance of a family called Park. In 1603, Alexander Park alienated these lands to David Pollock of Lee. In 1684, James Pollock was the owner of Balgray and he was fined for supporting the Covenanters. Eventually Balgray was sold to Thomas Pollock who was a wealthy merchant from Glasgow and of a branch of the Pollock family descended from a younger brother of the family from the reign of Queen Mary. In 1818, Thomas Pollock owned the lands and it is known that at this time a small bleachfield was in business in Balgray, employing twenty people. However, by the early 1850s the business had closed. In 1831, the house was unoccupied and had been so for some time, it is not clear if this is the same house that stands today. In 1905, it was the property of James C Ferguson Pollock of Pollock Castle (Upper Pollock).

Barcapel House

Barcapel House in Mearns was built in 1912 by Sir Thomas Clement. Thomas was chairman of Andrew Clement & Sons, who, at the time, was the largest wholesale dairy produce dealer in Scotland. In 1911 he commissioned architects John Watson and David Salmond to build a grand two-story mansion on land bought from the Capelrig Estate.

The grounds included tennis courts, large orchard and gardens. The gardens were considered to be very beautiful and it is known that the earliest tomatoes in the parish of Mearns were grown there.

Unfortunately, in 1965, Barcapel House was burnt down as the result of an accident: Workmen were repairing the roof with a blow torch. After the house was burnt down the estate was sold and luxury apartments built on the site of the mansion.

Capelrig House

It is thought that the lands of Capelrig belonged to the Knights Templar in the 13th century until they were forfeited at the start of the 14th century and passed to the Knights Hospitallers. In the middle of the 16th century the Scottish Temple lands became a secular estate in the hands of Sir James Sandilands, preceptor to Mary, Queen of Scots. C.1600, the estate of Capelrig was bought by the Mure family of Caldwell. During the bloody, Covenanting era the Mures temporarily lost Capelrig to King Charles's general in Renfrewshire, Sir Tam Dalziel of Binns. The lands were later restored to the family and then sold to Robert Barclay, a Glasgow lawyer in 1765.

Barclay built the present Georgian mansion of Capelrig in 1769.  The building was described as "a neat,handsome house, 3 stories high, rustic cornered, with eleven steps of a stone stair up to the front door".

In 1962 Capelrig passed to Renfrew County and after internal refurbishment became an Arts Centre and latterly, Council Offices.

There is a more detailed article about Capelrig on the website of the Mearns History Group. You can access this by going to the External websites area.

Croyland (Rysland)

In 1874 towards the end of his career, "Greek" Thomson designed a villa, which was originally called Rysland but is now known as Croyland on Ayr Road. The house was built for his friend John Shields.

Externally the house is austere with little decoration; internally the rooms are carefully proportioned and this is perhaps the best, in terms of interior proportions, of any of Thomson's villas. Decorations are confined to simple, plaster motifs of Greek derivation.

Thomson formed a long, horizontal garden wall to relate the villa more closely to the landscape. This strikingly handsome house is made of Giffnock stone, which Thomson used in many of his villas.

Kirkhill House

Kirkhill House, built in 1873, was one of many "big houses" built in Newton Mearns at the time, reflecting the growth of the area as a place to live and work. The population had gradually built up to 900 inhabitants by 1881. The large households of houses like Kirkhill, Rysland (now Croyland) and Pollok Castle provided employment for many domestic servants and gardeners.

In the late 13th century, Southfield was a Templar estate associated with Sir James Sandilands, head of the Knights of St. John and preceptor of Torpichen Priory. In 1307, most of the Templar property in Scotland was transferred to the Knights Hospitallers.

Southfield House

Southfield was sold in 1691 by Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall to Robert Urie of Millbrae and in 1771 was acquired by Alexander Hutchison, a Jamaican merchant. It remained in the Hutchison family until 1902.

In 1913 the land was bought by the Corporation of Glasgow from the trustees of the late Lady Cunninghame and became the site of Mearnskirk Hospital for children, which was eventually opened on 9 May 1930, dealing mainly with the many cases of tuberculosis from the City of Glasgow.

Southfield House was demolished in the years following the First World War.

Todhill House

Todhill House is a grand mansion house in Capelrig Road, built about 1710 and the former residence of Sir John Mactaggart, the Glasgow builder whose son, Jack, and Andrew Mickel formed the Mactaggart and Mickel company.

The Mickel/Mactaggart connection went back to 1880 and, at the turn of the century, Robert Mickel's firm was responsible for the construction of many Glasgow buildings and some prefabricated buildings supplied in sections. The Company was responsible for the first major Glasgow Corporation housing scheme at Mosspark but is perhaps best known in East Renfrewshire for the stylish bungalows and individually designed houses in "striking modern architecture" of the Broom estate, Newton Mearns.

Whitecraigs House

Built in 1898 by architect H. E. Clifford. Possibly the name "Whitecraigs" came from an old 17th century limestone quarry across the road. In a certain light it seemed to show "white crags".