Have your say by 2nd December! Falkirk Council have issued an online consultation about the future of Kinneil’s walled garden, following their sad closure of its plant nursery earlier this year.
What do you think would be the best use of this historic space in the future? The large walled garden dates from the 16th/17th Centuries and was an integral part of the estate. In those days when Kinneil House would have been at its most magnificent, the gardens were renowned for the finest fruit & vegetables, and under the Hamilton family, they would have been (as at Hamilton Palace) a centre of some of the most refined horticultural practice and training in Scotland of that period.
The line of the Antonine Wall runs beneath the nursery site. The walls at the North-West corner of the garden may also, according to new archaeological work last year, be the remains of the Hamiltons’ former 15th-Century castle of Craiglyon – a predecessor of Kinneil House!
When the Council developed the nursery in the 20th Century, the fertile topsoil was removed and replaced by hardcore. More recently, Sustainable Thinking Scotland C.I.C. have also set up in the South-West corner of the walled garden. Reviving some of the old traditions, they have gained a reputation for valuable new community growing activities.
The consultation explores whether the nursery space should be given over to further community use/growing, and/or whether it might be a site for some sort of development integrated within the overall vision and Masterplan for Kinneil Estate as a whole, in which the estate is envisaged as a heritage park attracting visitors from further afield as well as being used and enjoyed by the local community. Development in the walled garden might somehow help to bring in more people from outside the area, and contribute to making the estate as a whole viable, and supporting local jobs and economic activity.
Options in the consultation therefore range from community growing plots and beehives, or ‘men’s sheds’, on the one hand, to a skills training venue, visitor centre and café, or even a conference centre, on the other. Which end of this spectrum do you think is the right one? Can the walled garden be considered separately from the future of the House and Museum – or should they all be looked at together and in the round? Respond to the consultation and ensure your views and ideas are heard on this issue.