Free open days confirmed for 2010

HISTORY lovers are being given a chance to enjoy free tours inside historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness.

The A-listed building – which boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland – will provide access to visitors over five afternoon sessions in 2010. The first two open days take place next month (April).

Access has been organised by Historic Scotland – which cares for the building – in conjunction with the heritage charity The Friends of Kinneil. The partners confirmed the dates this week.

Normally, visitors can only tour around the grounds of the mansion, which dates back to the 15th century. The impressive building is situated in Kinneil Estate, on the western edge of Bo’ness.

The special tours inside the building will take place on:

•    Saturday, April 24, 2010 (spring opening);
•    Sunday, April 25, 2010 (spring opening);
•    Sunday, June 27, 2010 (Bo’ness Fair event);
•    Sunday, August 29, 2010 (Kinneil Heritage Day); and
•    Sunday, October 31, 2010 (Hallowe’en event)

Each House open day will run from noon to 4 p.m. – except the last event, on October 31, which will run from noon until 3 p.m. The last admission is 30 minutes before closing. Full details are online at http://www.kinneil.org.uk

A spokesperson for The Friends of Kinneil: "We’re pleased to continue our work with Historic Scotland to provide free access to Kinneil House over a series of special open afternoons.

"Last year, more than 1700 people saw inside the House during five, similar events. We’re hoping to attract even more people with our programme in 2010."

He added: "At each open day, volunteers are stationed around the building to tell people about Kinneil’s rich and varied history.

"The first event takes place on April 24, and we’re also running one of the days on Hallowe’en – as Kinneil boasts its very own ‘ghost’. Admission is free and is open to all – although children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult."

Kinneil House, which dominates the surrounding 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 group to improve public access to the building.

* Kinneil House is just off the A993 – the main road through Bo’ness in central Scotland. For location information visit www.kinneil.org.uk/map 

* Kinneil House is only during special open days. However, neighbouring Kinneil Museum, run by Falkirk Council, is open to the public throughout the year. The Museum is normally open Monday to Saturday from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The surrounding Kinneil Estate features remains of the Antonine Wall and is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.

* Kinneil House is one of more than 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Stirling, Edinburgh and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. Find out more by visiting www.historic-scotland.gov.uk