Monthly Archives: September 2012

Welcome to The Bonnet Toun

Posted on 24 September, 2012

It’s been quite a while since my last blog entry!  It’s been over 9 months since my last post, but I have been really busy since then.  So far this year, I’ve got engaged, my fiance has started his own business, we’ve bought a new car and we’ve also moved home too.  Phew!

We moved to a neighbouring town called Stewarton (aka The Bonnet Toun).

This sign is on the road from Kilmarnock into Stewarton, and I can see my house from here.  This is Lainshaw House (no, it’s not all mine!):

Stewarton was once a prosperous ‘bonnet-making’ town.  Bonnet making can be traced back over 400 years in Stewarton.  Glengarry Hats have been made here since 1845 by Robert Mackie of Scotland and are still being made today.

In the 1700s, there were numerous mills along the Annick Water, but today it’s mostly houses along the river bank with only the one knitwear mill still remaining.

Stewarton has a population of 6,500 and for it’s size it has a really good selection of local shops.  There’s a farm shop which sells the best local produce that I’ve ever tasted, a bakers, a greengrocer, a butchers, an antique shop, a few boutiques (a couple of these sell handmade cards by a knitting friend of mine, The Bumble Bee), a newsagent, a few take-away food places, a supermarket, a deli that sells that most delicious brie and cranberry sandwiches and an award winning chippy.

Walking away from the town centre and out towards the Lainshaw area, one of the streets  is called David Dale Avenue.

 

This street is named after David Dale, who was a Scottish merchant and businessman born in Stewarton in 1739.  He is well known for founding the weaving community of New Lanark in 1786.

David Dale Avenue is one of the routes that I walk along to get from my house to the town centre.  If I don’t walk along here, then it’s the river walk that I take through Lainshaw Woods.

Lainshaw Woods are a picturesque and well-maintained area of woodland with good paths.  The paths were recently refurbished by the Stewarton Woodland Action Trust. It’s a lovely area to stroll through and there are a few characters along the way like this crocodile carved into a fallen tree.

The new Stewarton allotments can be seen from the path in Lainshaw Woods.  The allotments had just been opened when I moved to Stewarton 4 months ago and it has been lovely walking by and watching each area being established and start to grow.

As it’s autumn here now, some of the leaves are just starting to change colour.

Lainshaw Woods are divided into 2 sections by Lainshaw House within the Lainshaw Estate, and this is where I live now.  Montgomerie Drive is a relatively new street in Stewarton, and I think the new houses built in this area are only about 5 years old.

At the start of the estate are the two original gatehouses, one on either side of the road.  Both have been extended and converted into houses now.  And once you walk past the gatehouses, you come to Lainshaw House.

This is my home now.  There are 8 apartments within the house.  I live in one on the 2nd floor, which unlike the rest has an ‘upstairs’ too – our bedrooms are in what was once the attic space.

Lainshaw House is a Grade B listed mansion and was once the main residence of the Cunninghame family.  The house was purchased in 1779 by William Cunninghame from Sir Walter Montgomerie-Cuninghame after Sir Walter lost a fortune as result of the American War of Independence. William (aka the ‘Tobacco Lord’), who had made his fortune in America between 1748 and 1762, proceeded to improve the Estate under an agreement whereby the Montgomeries could reclaim the estate only if they could reimburse William for the cost of his improvements, which they never could. 

William Cunninghame also owned a townhouse in Glasgow which is now the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) today.

Within Lainshaw House is the much older Lainshaw Castle.  The tower is contained within several later building phases, which is easier to see at the back of the building.

The middle section of the house is the oldest part of the building and most probably dates back to the late 15th to early 16th century.

As well as the main house, there are a few other later additions to the property including a mews house and cottages.

During WW2 the mansion was commandeered as a military barracks.  Since 1945 the house and it’s estate have been used as a refugee encampment, a school, a retirement home and now, after a period of ruin, it has been converted into private residential apartments.  This website has a lot of information about Lainshaw House and how it has been used over the centuries.  I loved reading the bit about local schoolchildren being allowed into Lainshaw Woods on one Saturday each year in autumn for one hour to collect chestnuts.  I found these photos online of what the house looked like as a ruin, before being converted into apartments.

The first picture is looking into my kitchen and part of my living room and the second photo is the roof of my daughter’s bedroom.  It’s amazing what they’ve done when renovating the building.

I found out online that the fire escape to my apartment, which you can see on the left of this picture (the grey bit), was added when the building was being renovated:

I also found these old floor layouts online showing what every room in the house used to be when it was still a mansion house.

Being on the second floor, we have some beautiful views over the Annick Water.  This is what we see from our living room window.

I was very surprised one morning last week to see a few visitors just in front of the trees.

Can you see them?  By the time I got my telephoto lens, they had walked back into the trees.

But one of the best views we get has to be from my bathroom window . . . we see the most amazing sunsets from that side of the house.

And with that I am going to say goodbye . . . and promise not to leave it so long before I post again xx