Open day at Kinneil

HISTORIC Kinneil House in Bo’ness, central Scotland, is opening its doors to visitors this weekend.

The mansion – which houses some of the best Renaissance wall paintings in Scotland – will provide free access on Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, from 12 noon until 3 p.m. on both days.

The opening has been organised by the heritage group The Friends of Kinneil in conjunction with Historic Scotland. It ties in with the government agency’s Free Weekend which will see more than 70 Historic Scotland properties open to the public free of charge.

Adrian Mahoney, the chairman of the Friends of Kinneil, said: “Our members have been working closely with Historic Scotland to provide additional access to the House and to make people more aware of its fascinating history. We think this is the first time in many years that the House has been open in the spring and we hope people will pay a visit on April 21 and 22.”

Kinneil House, which dominates Kinneil Estate, dates back to the 15th century and was once a popular home for the Dukes of Hamilton. The building was re-modelled in the 1540s and transformed into a stately home in the 1660s.

In the early part of the 20th century, the house and estate were sold to Bo’ness Town Council. In 1936, the local authority stated demolition work, but halted the process when the rare Renaissance wall paintings were discovered by a worker.

The buildings were put into the care of the Ministry of Works, now Historic Scotland.

For the past two decades, access to the house has been limited.

However, Historic Scotland is now working with The Friends of Kinneil to increase the number of public openings.

Neil Young, Historic Scotland’s visitor services manager for the region, said: “We’re delighted to open up Kinneil as part of our wider Free Weekend. We’re also grateful to the local volunteers for the Friends of Kinneil, who will be in the building on both days, telling people about Kinneil’s amazing history. Visitors to the House will be able to see the painted rooms as well as important gravestones and other artefacts found nearby.

“Admission is free of charge. But we can only allow limited numbers into the building at a time for safety, so please come early to avoid queues.”

The last admission will be 30 minutes before closing.

Mr Young said other local landmarks, such as Linlithgow Palace, Torphichen Preceptory and Blackness Castle would also be providing free access during the Free Weekend.

“The Weekend is your chance to enjoy Scotland’s finest and most famous castles, abbeys and ancient monuments for free. We hope people will take this opportunity and find out about Scotland’s rich heritage,” he said.

Kinneil Museum – run by Falkirk Council – will also be open on April 21 and 22.

The museum provides an audio visual show on the history of Kinneil House and the surrounding estate, which also features a medieval church, a Roman fortlet and a cottage used by inventor James Watt.