A bright creation into being starts,
And grace and beauty to the scene imparts;
Correct in its proportions, simple, chaste,
A splendid specimen of modern taste.
THE barony of Erskine, situated on the south banks of the Clyde, about ten miles below Glasgow, belonged in very early times to the family of Erskine, ancestors of the Erskines, Earls of Mar. It was the property of Henricus de Erskine, in the reign of Alexander II. In 1226, this baron witnessed a donation by Amelia, mother of Maldwin, Earl of Lennox, of the patronage of the church of Roseneath, and the tithes thereto belonging, to the Monastery of Paisley. The barony remained in the family of Erskine after they became Earls of Mar, till towards the close of the seventeenth century. Charles, the tenth Earl of Mar, of this name, was forced to sell it, to pay the heavy debts which had been incurred by his father and grandfather, during the civil wars. This transference must have taken place shortly previous to the year 1689, when this Earl died at the age of thirty-nine. It was purchased by the Hamiltons of Orbiston, from whom it afterwards passed to the Lords Blantyre, in which family the property still is.
It is alleged by some, that the lands derived their name from one of the early proprietors; but it is much more probable, that the name of the family was adopted from the lands which they possessed. This was a very customary practice in early times, when names began to be adopted. The following is the tradition handed down, with regard to the origin of the name. In the reign of Malcolm II. a Scot, who killed with his own hand, Enrique, a Danish general, at the battle of Murthill, cut off his head, and with it and the bloody dagger, presented himself to the king. Exhibiting the trophies of his feat, he said in Celtic, “Eris Skyne,” alluding to the head and dagger; adding in the same language, “I intend to perform still greater actions than I have yet done.” The king, in memory of the action, bestowed upon him the name of Erskine, and assigned for his armorial bearing, a hand holding a dagger, with the motto, “Je pense plus,” [I think more,] which is still the crest and motto of the family.
The house seen in the engraving is a new mansion, erected by the present Lord Blantyre. It was begun several years ago; but although it is now finished externally, the internal decorations are not yet, and will not be for some time complete. The designs were furnished by Robert Smirke, Esq. Architect, Stratford place, London. The building is erected in the Manorial, or Domestic Gothic of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, with perpendicular windows, many of them large, and of great beauty. The splendid irregularity of this style of building, has been seldom displayed, in modern times, to greater advantage, than at Erskine house; and particularly when seen from the water, its effect is rich and striking. The house is of great size, extending in front 185 feet in length, besides its kitchen court, and nursery wing; the principal part, rising in height to two stories, is terminated by rich cornices, and decorated pinnacles. The internal arrangements, when completed, will be exceedingly magnificent. The house contains upwards of seventy-five rooms, of which seven are public rooms, of large size, and beautiful proportions. The picture gallery is 118 feet in length. The vestibule, hall and gallery, open from one into the other, with folding doors; and the whole of their extent can be seen at once, from the grand entrance, presenting a splendid perspective of 196½ feet.
The house is situated on a rising ground, at the distance of about half a mile from the water, of which, and its surrounding scenery, it commands a fine prospect. The pleasure grounds at Erskine are beautifully wooded, with trees of various ages and kinds. But beautiful as the grounds undoubtedly are, their beauty is nothing when compared to the varied, and magnificent views of the Clyde and its neighbouring shores, which are to be had from the house. Every window of the mansion presents some rich and extensive prospect of the river, either looking up towards Glasgow, or down towards the estuary of the Clyde, which is seen bearing on its broad and majestic bosom, ships of all sizes, laden with the manufactures of Glasgow, or bringing in the riches of the east and of the west, destined for that commercial emporium.
The view in the engraving is taken from the north-east, a little above the Inn at Bowling, on the opposite bank of the Clyde; and besides presenting the house and its surrounding pleasure grounds, affords a good idea of the fine prospect to be here had up the river, and of the strath or valley through which it flows.