A happy rural seat of various view.
Airs, vernal airs,
Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune
The trembling leaves.
LEE House, the seat of Sir Charles McDonald Lockhart Baronet, of Lee and Carnwath, which was enlarged and improved in 1822, from designs by James Gillespie, Esq., Architect, Edinburgh, is about two miles distant from Cartlane Bridge,1 and nearly three from Lanark. It is an extensive building, of a square castellated form, having circular embattled turrets at each corner, and an embattled parapet at top. From the centre of the building, a large square embattledd tower, lighted with twelve very beautiful old English windows, rises above the other parts to a considerable height, and adds greatly to the grandeur of the effect. The central portion of the east front, rises a little higher than the rest, projects beyond the line of the wall, andhas thus the appearance of another strongly embattled tower The principal entrance, is in the lower part of this tower; and immediately over it there is a square window, ornamented with a deep moulding, which lights the entrance hall. The building is surrounded with a high, broad terrace, without any parapet, covered on the top with gravel, and formed into a walk.
The taste which designs a modern mansion house, after the form of an ancient Castle, may certainly be questioned; but it will not be disputed, that Mr. Gillespie has here very strictly adhered to the rules of the style he has chosen; at least, that he has done so, as far as was possible, without sacrificing the necessary requisites and comforts of a modern dwelling. No minute or inconsistent external decoration, has been admitted; and the effect produced is made to arise entirely from the unity, simplicity,and magnitude of the general design. Lee house has, however, a very grand appearance, particularly when viewed from a distance, or from any of the adjoining heights. The beauty of its situation would be considerably enhanced however, by the feature of water. It stands in an extensive and well wooded valley near the bottom of the sloping hills, which form its northern boundary. This valley, separated from the Clyde by the ridge of hills forming its southern boundary, stretches away from the east, towards the west, for many miles. Throughout its extent, and on the hills which form it, are various groups of trees, and shady woods, while
Betwixt them lawns, and level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, are interposed.
The wood, in the immediate neighbourhood of the house, is peculiarly fine; many of the trees being large, and some of them of great antiquity.
The best view of the house, its rich woods, and the valley in which it is situated, is certainly to be had from the great line of road, mentioned, in describing Cartlane Bridge. This road passes along the brow of the hills on the north; and from it, the towers and embattled walls of this extensive buiding are seen, rising from amidst its ancient woods, like some strong fortress of the olden time. The view selected for this work, as giving the house more complete and distinct than any other, is taken from the slope of the hills to the south east.
The well known Lee-penny, once so famed for its medicinal virtues, is still carefully preserved here. It is a small triangular shaped stone, of a dark red colour, set in a shilling of Edward 1. It is kept in a handsome gold box, which bears on the inside of its lid the following inscription:- “A present from the Empress Queen, to General Lockhart, and given by him to Mrs. Lockhart of Lee, 1789, to hold the Lee-penny.” Tradition affirms this relict to have been kept at Lee, by the ancient family of Lockhart, for a period of about five hundred years. When the brave Sir James Douglas went to the holy land, with the heart of King Robert Bruce, Simon Locard of Lee is said to have carried the noble relict. The issue of this unfortunate expedition, and the chivalrous exploits of Sir James and his band of warriors, with the Moors in Spain, are well known. Simon Locard here took prisoner a Moorish Prince, and received the Lee-penny as part of the ransom. It would exceed our limits, and in all probability, the patience of our readers, to speak of the many virtues attributed to the water in which this stone was dipped; it is enough to say, that it was considered a sovereign specific for all the “ills which flesh is heir to.” We are told that the Lady Baird of Sauchtonhall, about a hundred years ago, drank of the water, and was cured of Hydrophobia. This circumstance, Mr. Denholm says, is well attested; but as he, with a sagacity peculiarly his own, remarks, “we should rather be inclined to suppose, that its virtues in this case, as well as every other, was more imaginary than real.”2 The superior intelligence or scepticism, however, of modern times, has deprived the Lee-penny of all its virtues; yet the servants of the house of Lee, appear still to look on the ancient relict with the most profound respect and veneration.