Glorious Gardens: Cambusnethan

A disappearing treasure of the Clyde Valley

Filed under History & Archaeology

- Maureen McKeown, Glorious Gardens volunteer

Cambusnethan designed landscape is centred on the derelict Cambusnethan House or Priory, near Wishaw, completed in 1820 for the Lockhart of Castlehill family.  The ruins sit on a steep slope looking south over the River Clyde. 

Looking down at Cambusnethan with former policy parkland on either side of the North Drive
Looking down at Cambusnethan with former policy parkland on either side of the North Drive

It was once surrounded by fine lawns, framed by orchards and policy parkland, followed by fine mixed woodland, and boasted productive kitchen and walled gardens.

Cambusnthan on the OS map of 1898
Cambusnethan on the OS map of 1898

The orchards reduced over decades but much else survived into the mid 1960s when the parkland and walled garden were cleared and the land converted to agricultural use. 

The last surviving pear tree in the terraced slopes of a former orchard
The last surviving pear tree on the terraced slopes of a former orchard area

The house was in use until the mid-1980s, latterly as a hotel and ‘medieval banquet’ venue.  It has been empty ever since and two fires, the elements and vandalism over the intervening thirty years have left the structure in a dangerous state.  Over that same period, nature has been reclaiming the lawns.  The fine woodland remains as do a number of specimen trees but little else survives of the once large and beautiful grounds.  This is a sad example of an estate that has almost disappeared within the lifetimes of many locals.

The remains of an iron gate and iron footbridge
The remains of an iron gate and iron footbridge

A local group, known as the Friends of Cambusnethan Priory was formed in March 2014 and has ambitious plans to save the building - see the link below.

Cambusnethan Coachouse and Stables
Cambusnethan Coachhouse and Stables

The House and Estate Offices/Stables are Category A Listed and the house is on the Buildings at Risk register.  Cambusnethan Woods was designated a local nature reserve in 2014.  The estate is visited by dog walkers, walkers, horse riders, cyclists, and fishermen.

To find out more about the Estate's history and archaeology, click the links on the right. This research was carried out as part of the Glorious Gardens volunteer project, which is managed by Scotland's Garden & Landscape Heritage and delivered by Northlight Heritage, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership and from Historic Environment Scotland.  To find out more about the project, explore the other museum items below.


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