Cambusnethan Priory – The Country House Of The Super-Rich That Is Now Slipping Away

The aerial photographs of Cambusnethan Priory near Wishaw reveal the vulnerable condition of this historically significant property. Once a grand symbol of wealth for an aristocratic family and later the residence of a wealthy industrialist from Glasgow, the priory has been without a permanent resident for over four decades. Unfortunately, the current owner’s plans to restore the building have faced obstacles due to planning issues.

Graham Smith, the chairman of Friends of Cambusnethan Priory, a group formed in 2014, expressed concern about the deteriorating state of the property. He described it as a mixed picture, with some parts still in decent condition while others have suffered significant damage. Trees and weeds are growing into the masonry, causing structural issues, and rainwater is eroding the outer stone. In essence, time is running out for the building.

The group’s ultimate goal is to assume ownership of Cambusnethan Priory and transform it into a community country park and visitor center. They envision the restored priory serving as a venue for various events, such as weddings. Their motivation stems from civic pride, and they boast a diverse range of skills among their members, including stonemasonry, landscaping, accounting, and legal expertise.

One of their top priorities is maintaining the grounds to deter vandals, illegal dumpers, and individuals seeking cover for undesirable activities. Interestingly, the lockdown has inadvertently helped their cause, as more people have started visiting the grounds for exercise and outdoor activities, revitalizing it as a community space.

Cambusnethan Priory, built in 1819 for the Lockhart of Castlehill family, has a rich history and architectural significance. It was designed by James Gillespie Graham, a renowned architect of his time, in a Neo-Gothic style. Despite changing ownership over the years, the priory faced challenges finding a suitable buyer, and it narrowly escaped demolition in the late 1960s.

Ron Wilson, a Bearsden resident, purchased the priory and hosted mock medieval banquets in the 1970s, complete with jousting, gallows, and “wenches” serving roast meats. Subsequent plans, including converting the house into flats and constructing new homes on the property, encountered obstacles during the planning process.

Graham Smith emphasized the pressing risk that the priory’s four-storey Octagonal Tower might collapse over time, pushing the property beyond the point of no return. He emphasized that while most of the house still stands, its survival is at stake, at least for now.

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