Estate, History, Kinneil House, Kinneil Museum, walking

Easter tour at Kinneil – anniversary of tragic heir’s escape on rope of bedsheets

This Easter Saturday will mark the 460th anniversary of a dramatic episode in 1562, on the eve of Easter Sunday, when the troubled heir to the Hamilton dynasty escaped from his own father during the night, down a rope of knotted bedsheets from an upper-floor room.

Volunteer guides from the Friends of Kinneil will explain the story during a special free outdoor walking tour at Kinneil House at 2pm this Saturday, 16 April – with other Easter events and activities also taking place over the weekend, including the unique annual early morning outdoor service led by Bo’ness Old Kirk at the ruined Kinneil Kirk at 8am on Easter Sunday.

Ian Shearer, Chairman of the Friends of Kinneil, said: “Generations of Bo’ness children know the story of Kinneil’s ‘White Lady’, falling to her death from a top-floor room – but how many know the equally dramatic tale of the tragic 3rd Earl of Arran, a potential future King of Scotland, escaping from his own father in Easter 1562 down a rope made of bed linen?

“In Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, find out more at the free tour on Easter Saturday by our volunteer guides. Please visit our web site and check social media for full information and updates on the tour, and also for family activity sheets for Easter walks in the estate.

“On Easter Sunday, experience the unique annual early outdoor service of morning praise at the ruin of Kinneil Kirk, believed to have been a Christian site for around 1,500 years or more. Visit Bo’ness Old Kirk’s social media pages for more information.”

James Hamilton, 3rd Earl of Arran, one of the potential suitors of both Queen Elizabeth I of England and of Mary Queen of Scots, who escaped from his father at Kinneil House during Easter 1562

Essential visitor information for the tour – please read carefully:

* The tour on Saturday 16 April will be at the usual time of 2pm. There will be another tour on Saturday 30 April. Further summer events will be announced in due course.

* There is no need to book, just turn up – meet outside Kinneil Museum (itself open free, daily except Tuesdays, 12.30-4pm). The tour will last around an hour, and will also feature some of the wider history and heritage of Kinneil House and Estate. All ages welcome.

* Kinneil House itself has been closed inside by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) during the pandemic. Among other things, it contains what are considered to be Scotland’s finest domestic wall paintings of the mid-16th Century. Its first open day since 2019 will be on Sunday 24 April 2022 – please keep an eye out for further details of guided tours of the interiors on the HES web page for Kinneil House and on this Friends of Kinneil web site too.

* On arrival at the estate, please park in either the Museum or woodland car parks, or outside the estate, and not on grass verges, in the area in front of Kinneil House, nor in front of residents’ houses. Assemble for the tour just outside Kinneil Museum.

* The walk will mostly be along sound footpaths with minimal trip/slip hazards. All ages welcome – adults and children. Regrettably those who are infirm and/or in wheelchairs are respectfully advised not to join the walk, or only to take part in its initial stage next to Kinneil Museum and up to the front of Kinneil House.

* The route is short (Kinneil Museum – Kinneil House – James Watt Cottage – Kinneil Kirk – Kinneil Museum) but will take around one hour as the guide explains the history on view and responds to questions. During or after wet weather, some paths may be muddy and/or slippy: please wear suitable clothing and footwear for the conditions.

* If bringing a dog, please keep the dog away from other walkers, well-behaved, under control and on a lead at all times.

* The walk is free of charge and no booking is required, but donations to support the Friends of Kinneil, a registered charity, may be made at the end.

* Please check the Friends of Kinneil Facebook page or Twitter page before coming, to check for any announcements about cancellation or changes due to adverse weather conditions or other factors. We would do our best to post such announcements before 12 noon on the morning of any particular walk, which may otherwise be assumed to be going ahead although we cannot be held responsible for any unforeseen last-minute circumstances/cancellation.

* Please do not attend if showing COVID-related symptoms or isolating. Face masks are not currently required outdoors, although they are needed if going inside Kinneil Museum, where a toilet is also located and may be available, although visitors may wish to use other facilities elsewhere before arrival. Visitors should also maintain social distancing between household groups, sanitise hands beforehand, not pass items between groups, avoid touching surfaces where possible, and observe relevant public health regulations and guidance in force at the time. Those attending agree to accept that participation in outdoor guided walking tours is at their own risk as far as any COVID hazards are concerned – as if attending a walk in the park of their own initiative.

* The main areas of Kinneil Estate also form part of the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site. Visitors may wish to continue with their own walk to explore Kinneil Roman Fortlet, and many other paths around the 200 acres of woods and historic parkland, or down the John Muir Way to Kinneil Foreshore towards Bo’ness and other attractions. A free leaflet about the estate’s ‘Hidden Heritage’ trail can be picked up in Kinneil Museum, and free audio tours are also available.

Our guides look forward to welcoming you, or welcoming you back, to Kinneil!