Mearns Castle

Mearns Castle

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The first known charter to build a castle on the present site was granted at Stirling on 8th August 1440 to the first Lord Maxwell, although a wooden structure dating from the time of Roland , the first feudal lord of  Mearns may have pre-dated it.

A second charter granted on 15th March 1449 by James II was a licence to build the present tower structure. The licence conferred on him "full power to build on his lands lying within the barony of Mearns, in Renfrewshire, a castle or fortalice; to surround and fortify the same with walls and ditches; to secure it by iron gates; and to erect on top of it all such warlike apparatus as might be necessary for the defense thereof.”

Mearns CastleThe castle was built near the Aldton (old town) and succeeded the earlier tower which may have been damaged in the civil war in 1443. It is ideally positioned with views stretching in every direction. It seems unlikely  that the castle saw any significant military activity although it is known that soldiers were garrisoned there in 1675 to harass the Covenanters. Earlier, conventicles took place in the castle.

Lord Maxwell’s main seat was at Caerlaverock Castle in Dumfriesshire and consequently Mearns Castle was used for occasional visits rather than as a permanent home for the Maxwell family. For the most part a custodian and several retainers would have lived in dwellings within the courtyard wall.

One reason that the castle has survived may be due to the size of the central hall. It is large enough to be used as a meeting place and in the 19th century was used for local functions.

Mearns Castle ChurchHugh MacDonald in his book ‘Rambles Round Glasgow’ published in the mid nineteenth century wrote:

“The members of the Mearns troop of Yeomen cavalry, previous to their disembodiment, held several of their annual balls within the precincts of the ancient hall, when the rank and beauty of the district graced it with their presence”.

In 1970 the congregation of Maxwell Church  Pollok Street, Glasgow were forced to find a new site for their church due to the construction of the Kingston Bridge. It was decided that a new church should be built adjacent to Mearns Castle.

The congregation held services in the castle hall until the church, Maxwell  Mearns Castle Parish Church of Scotland, was completed. The church is attached to the castle but the castle itself is no longer used  by the church.  The castle has deteriorated to a significant degree but could still  be restored if sufficient funds were available.

 

Mearns Castle today with Maxwell Mearns Church attached.Mearns Castle today with Maxwell Mearns Church attached

 

 


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