Polmaise Castle, Jane Ann Wright (1842 – 1922)

Few now remember Polmaise Castle, but as the annual march of the Gillies which takes place this Sunday 25 June at 2pm  passes near to the site, its history is worth revisiting. The Save Gillies Hill campaign was set up to protect the historic hill from quarrying. Last century, Murrayshall House, built in 1673, home of the Jacobite Ladies of Murrayshall, three sisters who kept the Jacobite traditions alive in Stirling, was lost to the quarry.

In July 1966, nearby Polmaise Castle was blown up by the army, less than a century after it was built for Colonel and Lady Murray. This watercolour is by artist and antiquary Jane Ann Wright (1842 – 1922), and her sister Isabella noted in her journal “On August 6th 1868, Polmaise Castle being completed, Colonel and Lady Agnes Murray left what is now known as Old Polmaise, and took up their new abode”.

A full history of Polmaise Castle and its significance for the people of Cambusbarron is available in Peter Paterson’s excellent book, ‘A Cambusbarron Tapestry’. Built in the Fir Park above Cambusbarron, with towers and turrets and on a scale to rival every other country house in the area, it is one of the many historical casualties suffered by Stirling. Next week, we will look at its near neighbour, Bannockburn House.


  1. REPLY
    Richard says

    An attractive picture. It would add to the story to see it displayed alongside the few photos of Polmaise Castle that exist. It was a wonderful building and a great shame it wasn’t preserved for the community. A visit to the site to see the blocks of stone remaining from its demolition is both an evocative and sad experience – you are aware of the attraction of the site, but also the sense of something lost.

  2. REPLY
    Douglas todd says

    I’m from Cambusbarron played there as a bairn..lovely area I have water colours lady murry painted of the woods given to me bye a friend of the old game keeper

  3. REPLY
    Richard says

    Just been on a return walk to the ruins of Polmaise Castle and was impressed by the work that volunteers have done to clear the original driveways to improve access to the site. You can just sense what it must have been like as vehicles drove up the tarmac driveway to the grandeur of Polmaise Castle. Sadly, access from Polmaise Road does not follow the first 100 metres or so of the original driveway which now appears to be in private ownership. You can gain access by scrambling through the woods at the side of the driveway to re-gain the original driveway and it is well worth the effort. I understand that most of the driveway up to the site is now in the care of Cambusbarron Community Development Trust. It would add significantly to the experience if, at some future stage, a path could be laid from Polmaise Road to access the driveway and also if story boards could be installed at the start of the path and at the ruins of Polmaise Castle itself which is just as evocative as ever. Such a pleasure to walk in the woods of Gillies Hill.

  4. REPLY
    McCall Humes says

    I’m seeking proof that a painting of Colonel Murray of Polmaise still exists. It was done by EC Way in 1897 and the description of it says “Colonel Murray in highland shooting dress with landscape background.” Any chance your museum has record of such a portrait?

    • REPLY
      Museum Administrator says

      Sadly we do not have the portrait. It’s unlikely that the painting is in a public collection in the UK as it’s not on ArtUK. Good luck with your search!

      • REPLY
        McCall Humes says

        Thank you for responding.

  5. REPLY
    Billy hunter says

    I have proof that there was a portrait if you want to email I will give you absolute proof as I have a letter done by Colonel Murrays widow confirming this I had put all the information on here about a week ago and sent it but I do not see it on here art uk do not know anything about the portrait so with the information I have I would say it is with the Murray family

  6. REPLY
    Billy Hunter says

    There was a full portrait in 15 Eaton Square in 1903

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