See here be all the pleasures
That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts,
When the fresh blood grows lively, and returns
Brisk as the April buds in primrose season.
THIS elegant mansion, the seat of the Hon. Lord Corehouse, one of the senators of the College of Justice, is pleasantly situated on the south bank of the Clyde, and within a few hundred yards of the river. It was begun to be erected in 1824, from designs furnished by ——— Blore, Esq., Architect, Walbeck street, London, and was finished in 1827. It is executed in the manorial style of queen Elizabeth’s reign, than which none probably could have been better selected, for the size of the building, or the surrounding scenery. To those of our readers, who are acquainted with this style of building, a particular description will not be considered very necessary; and to those who are not, unless it were made more minute in its details, than our limits will admit, an adequate description could not be given. The principal part of the building, which fronts the north west, is raised on a terrace five feet high, and eleven feet broad, having a parapet wall, finely ornamented with enriched mason work. A broad stone stair of eight steps, having also enriched parapet walls, leads to the terrace,, opposite the entrance to the house. What strikes the spectator most in buildings of this style, is the numerous pointed gables, with their various ornaments and pinnacles; but we are here farther pleased with the appearance of the walls of the building, which are of rough ashlar, the surface of the stones being just as they came from the quarry; though the mouldings and the pinnacles are all polished. The stone is excellent, and of a fine cream colour. Altogether, the external character of the house, is that of chaste and simple elegance.
The internal decorations, harmonize in the most happy manner, with its external appearance. The public rooms are entirely finished with wainscot, and are at once chaste and superb. The ceilings of these rooms are all of wainscot, paneled in various forms with projecting mouldings having carved pendants at the different points of intersection. The different doors also of wainscot highly varnished, are very beautiful; the mantle pieces are of the same material, richly carved. Of the public rooms, the saloon must at once attract the attention of every visitor. The floor is entirely of wainscot, having a surface almost smooth as glass; the walls and roof are of the same material, the paneling and pendants being peculiarly splendid. There is here also a magnificent oak stair, ascending to the upper flat of the building, which for grandeur of appearance, is probably unequalled by any in this part of the country. Indeed every part of this house, its decorations, and furniture, exhibit the refined taste of its owner; whose genius and extensive learning, have so long been the boast and ornament of the Scottish bar.
The grounds have every natural advantage, for being tastefully laid out; for indeed
“Here be all new delights, cool streams, and wells,
Arbours o’ergrown with woodbine, caaves and dells.”
They have, however, only within these few years, come into thew possession of their present owner; and although great improvements have been already made, and others are still in progress, it is impossible yet to say what taste and genius will effect, in a situation so rich in natural beauty. The grounds are covered with old wood, single and in groups, and a great deal more had been recently planted. A new coach road has been formed, which winds along the Clyde for a distance of two miles, from the entrance to the house. When this road is finished, and the wood with which it is ornamented fully grown, it will hardly have an equal. The whole of the beautiful scenery of the Clyde, from the Bridge of Lanark to the fall of Corehouse, will here be displayed in succession; the less interesting parts being masked by the trees, while the more beautiful points will be opened up to view, and rendered more effective. This road passes through a wood, usually called the Monk’s wood. It is believed the Monks of the Abbey of Lesmahago, had some connection with it in ancient times, from which it has received its designation.
In one of the fields of a farm, belonging to the estate of Corehouse, about a mile south of the house, there are a number of ancient tumuli or cairns. One of these was opened, under the inspection of Lord Corehouse, a few years ago. After removing the small stones, of which the cairn was composed, a stone chest was discovered in the centre, around which there was a circle of eighteen urns. The chest was composed of six flat stones, of which one formed the bottom, four placed on edge, the sides, and the remaining one was laid upon the top. Within the chest was found a single urn, probably that of a chief; while those which formed the circle may have contained the remains of some of his followers. They all contained bones, seemingly as if they had been pounded into small pieces, but there were no apparent marks of their having been burned. The urns were made of clay, dried in the sun, and exhibited some rude ornaments on their surface, as if scratched in the clay while soft, with a pointed piece of wood or iron. One or two other cairns have been opened by the country people, and so far as can be learned, they presented appearances similar to that opened under the direction of his Lordship. There are still several unopened.
The field in which these tumuli have been found, has in all probability been a place of sepulture of the ancient Britons, or the site of some of their battles. No tradition, however, has been handed down with regard to it, nor does history mention any fact to illustrate these antiquarian remains. But the near neighbourhood of the great Roman station at Carstairs, which is not above five or six miles distant, and the smaller Roman encampments on Lanark muir, and at Stobby Lee, on the opposite side of the Clyde, make it not unlikely that some battle may have been fought here, between that people and the Britons; and that these cairns have been erected, over the remains of the British chiefs and their followers, who fell in the battle.
The old Tower of Corehouse stands a few hundred feer from the present mansion. Its situation is very singular, and strongly marks the state of manners, at the time it was erected. Nothing, however, is known of when, or by whom it was built. From the bed of the Clyde, immediately above where it is precipitated over the fall, a rock perfectly perpendicular, rises up to the height of nearly one hundred feet, on the top of which the tower is built, occupying the whole of its surface. This rock appears at one time to have been quite isolated, whether by nature or art is not known; but a deep ditch, fifteen or twenty feet broad, through which flowed a part of the waters of the Clyde, obviously divided it from the adjoining ground. The only access to it, or to the rock on which it stood, was by a drawbridge, opposite the entrance, which could be let down, or drawn up at pleasure by those within. It must therefore have been a place of great strength and could only be taken, by preventing supplies being sent into it.
In this strange abode, which may be said almost to hang over the fall, did the proprietors of Corehouse reside, probably from the period of its erection, till the end of the seventeenth, or beginning of the eighteenth century; secure from the rude assaults of their enemies, and regardless of the roaring waters, with which they were surrounded. Tradition still reports, that in very ancient times, a number of neighbouring Barons had met at the tower of Corehouse, for the purpose of concerting some marauding or other expedition. They were seated in the great hall, around a table on which stood wine cups, from which they were drinking. A severe storm of rain, in the upper part of Clydesdale, had swollen the river suddenly, and the torrent, rushing down with violent rapidity, shook the castle and its rocky bed. One of the wine cups was overturned on the table; which the Barons, taking as an omen of ill success, gave up their intended expedition, and precipitately departed homewards.
Corehouse appears to have been, during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, the property of a family of the name of Bannatyne. Lord Somerville, in his “Memorie of the Somervilles,” says the heads of the family were the chief of the name. The nobleman married a daughter of Bannatyne of Corehouse, during the civil wars in the reign of Charles I. Of this marriage he gives the following account. – “Young Cambusnethan1 having now laid asyde his armes, imployed his tyme in hunting and halking, but mostly in courting his mistress, untill the beginning of September, that that business was brought to a tryst att the Corseford boat, a passage upon Clyde, neer midway betwext the Corhouse and Cambusnethan. There was not much trysting in the matter, there being ane equality as to the persones, the portione offered, the present sustinance, joynter, and estate, that was to be secured to the heirs of the marriage. Neer two monthes efter the contracte, they were married by Mr. John Home, in Lesmahagoe Kirk, on the 13th November, 1651, the bryde being in the eighteinth year of her age, and the bridegroome in the nyneteinth. A matchlyer pair was not seen within the walles of that kirk this last century, nor a greater wedding, considering the great consternatione the countrey had been in for some few monthes preceding, for nobilitie and gentrie, ther being one marques, three earles, two lords, sexteine barons, and eight ministers, present at this solemnitie, but not one musitiane; they lyked yet better the bleetings of the calves of Dan and Bethell, the ministers’ long-winded, and sometimes nonsensical graces, litle to the purpose, than all musical instruments of the sanctuarie, att so solemne ane occasione, which, if it be lawful at all to have them, certainly it ought and should be upon a wedding day, for divertisement to the guests, that innocent recreation of musick and danceing, being much more warrantable, and a farre better exercise then drinking and smoakeing of tobacco, wherein these holy brethren of the presbyterean [persuasion] for the most part imployed themselves without any formall health or remembrance of their friends; a nod with ther head, or a sigh, with the turneing up of the whyte of the eye, served for that ceremoney.”2