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I vividly remember all of the occasions that my Father took me to what we called the "Manor House". At that time we had just moved to the neighbouring village Linwood. On my fist visit, on a sunny summer's evening we walked along the winding road that led from Linwood towards …., well we did not know where. As we walked along, the road turned to the left and in the distance one could see a bridge over the River Gryffe on the right hand side beyond the field, beyond that again the magnificent entrance gate with turrets guarding each side. The house has only recently been vacated and we were able to go inside the left hand turret and look down to see the view from the lookout windows. For someone so young, it was an exciting adventure, I remember feeling like the 'King of the Castle'. Just beyond those gates to the right hand side were huge chestnut tree's, later In the year we would return to collect chestnuts to take to school for conker fights. It could almost be yesterday, my Dad throwing up old branches to attempt to knock down the chestnuts for us, his two children collecting them where they fell. We even attempted to copy him by trying to throw objects up to knock down some chestnuts, however, we were never going to reach those heights.
A VIEW YOU COULD NOT PREPARE FOR ...As we walked along, the road split into two, that first visit we carried on straight along the gravel road gazing at the beauty of all sorts of different, mature trees which lined the route. Suddenly to our left appeared this magnificent, beautiful building built by the Architect David Bryce in 1857. Our first glimpse of this would remain with us forever, so much beauty, we wondered how someone could ever have left it empty, indeed even now, when you look at the pictures of the building, how a buyer for the Mansionhouse was never found as a dwelling house remains a mystery. One of the first things that struck you was the two lions on either side of the entrance to the front door. Two proud lions, one on either side, that had been there for over 100 years. We walked towards them, hand in hand up the stair to the front door, which was ajar, and we all walked inside.
Once again nothing could prepare you for the magnificence of the interior, virtually bare, all items having been removed following the sale of all contents a few years before. We meandered in and out of all the rooms on the lower floor and then made our way up the main staircase and looked through the bedrooms and other rooms upstairs. Each room had an absolutely awesome view. Those to the front looked out over the river Gryffe. As you looked to the front there was an area for transport to park, which made you think about the horses and carts in previous times, later we would drive through the estate in our new Ford Cortina, another reminder times had changed. Beyond that there was a lawned area with steps down either side down to a level grassed area, which led down to the river itself. To the right were magnificent trees, one of which was like a huge umbrella, in future years the local children would gather there, and swing on ropes inside this huge tree, that tree was of course the famous Craigends Yew.
The view from those rooms which overlooked the gardens at the back had an equally spectacular view, overlooking the perfectly kept gardens which looked as if someone had carried on maintaining them years after the mansionhouse itself was vacated. I remember tennis courts around this area too, it often took you back to a world gone-by dreaming of what it must have been like to live there when it was being used in all it's glory. To the right hand side as you left the rear entrance there was a garden area, walled on all four sides which was full of blooming flowers, and fruit.
On another occasion we would take the road that veered to the left, just after the chestnut tree's and what greeted us there were other buildings of unsurpassed beauty. The buildings themselves were massive, and I believe that they were the stables where the animals were kept. The most memorable thing about this building were the paintings on the walls inside, it could almost have been a dance hall, but I am sure I remember someone telling me it was the stables. One just walked inside and looked around at the paintings, wondering who decided to undertake this work, indeed who had painted the walls. There was also water fountains or fonts, one of which lay around for years prior to Cunningham Gardens being built.
Rumour had it that underground tunnels existed. I remember some children playing in the tunnels and coming out in opposite ends of where the building stood, long after they commenced pulling the building down. On one occasion we were in our car and had just passed the main mansion house building and were driving towards the out-house which was just beyond. This was still inhabited, I think by the Gardner. Suddenly two red deer ran out right in front of our car from the left, luckily for them and for us they just managed to pass to the right hand side of the road down towards the river Gryffe at the front of the house.
I have always remembered these experiences and often wanted to find out if any local resident ever took photographs of the various buildings and gardens at that time, they would be of great interest to me to share with the local community on this website.
·HOUSE & GROUNDS · PHOTOGRAPHS ·
GENEALOGY · MEMORIES ·