James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault and 2nd Earl of Arran (1516-1575) had a claim to the Scots throne … and served as Regent of Scotland (or acting King) for a young monarch: Mary, Queen of Scots.
He built his very own “palace” – now part of Kinneil House in Bo’ness – and decorated his quarters with fine Renaissance wall paintings.
This month, Arran comes “back” to Kinneil, in the shape of a costumed interpreter, playing the 16th century noble. It’s part of a series of free open days organised by Historic Scotland and the charity The Friends of Kinneil to bring the historic house to life.
The performer will take part in two, afternoon events – on Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21, 2013. The House will be open from noon until 4 p.m. both days (last admission 3.30 p.m.)
Kinneil Museum, next to the mansion, will also be open.
Maria Ford, the chair of The Friends of Kinneil, said: “James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, is a complex and interesting character – and we’re sure visitors will love to hear his story.
“Through his paternal grandmother, he was the great grandson of James II of Scotland and had a claim to the Kingdom of Scotland, after the immediate Royal family.
“By 1542, he was next in line to the throne after Mary, Queen of Scots – and was appointed Regent (effectively a stand-in) for the young monarch. Had she died as a child, Arran could have become the King of Scotland.
“He built the Palace section at Kinneil, the decoration of which helped inspire some of the recent re-creation work at the Palace at Stirling Castle.
“During the open weekend, we’ll take visitors on a tour of his apartments – and tell them more Kinneil’s amazingly rich history.”
She added: “We’re delighted that Historic Scotland has organised a costumed interpreter for our April events and we hope people will enjoy these open days. They’re free of charge, so please come along on April 20 and 21.”
Kinneil House, which dominates a large parkland – 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 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 has been working with The Friends of Kinneil group to improve public access to the building.
Alison Stalker, Assistant Events Manager at Historic Scotland said: “These open days make for a great family day out and give people the opportunity to see history brought to life.
“We would also urge people to come to Stirling Castle to see the magnificent restoration work at the Palace at Stirling Castle which was in part inspired by Arran’s very own palace which he built at Kinneil House.”
The open weekend is part of a series of free open days in 2013.
Visitors will be able to access further tours on:
- Saturday, June 22, 2013;
- Sunday, August 25, 2013; and
- Sunday, October 27, 2013 (3 p.m. close).
Neighbouring Kinneil Museum – which provides information on the history of the House and Estate – is also open throughout the year.
For more information please visit http://www.kinneil.org.uk/2013opendays
Notes for editors:
1. Kinneil House and Estate are on the western edge of Bo’ness in central Scotland, just off the A904 and A993 and are part of the Frontiers of The Roman Empire World Heritage Site. For satellite navigation devices, use the postcode EH51 0PR.
2. The Friends of Kinneil was set up in 2006 to promote Kinneil House, Kinneil Estate and Kinneil Nature Reserve in Bo’ness. The charity (Reg. No. SC038368) works in partnership with a range of organisations to run Kinneil House open days and other events for members and visitors. To find out more, visit http://www.kinneil.org.uk/friends or http://www.fb.com/kinneil or http://www.twitter.com/kinneil
3. Images of Kinneil House and Estate are available on request from The Friends of Kinneil. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or download directly from http://bit.ly/kinneilpics (must only be used for press/editorial purposes).
4. Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.
6. 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at www.visitscotland.com/natural
7. Keep up to date with Historic Scotland’s Year of Natural Scotland blog: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/yearofnatural