Castles and Towerhouses owned by the Maxwell family in Dumfries and Galloway.
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Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock is the principle seat of the Lords of Maxwell. It is unique in that it is the only triangular castle in the British Isles. It was first built in the second half of the thirteenth century by the Maxwells to protect their barony in the western border that goes by the same name. Three hundred yards to the south is a moated site of an earlier fortification, the first Maxwell castle built here. Caerlaverock had, for hundreds of years before these castles, been defended from the top of the small hill of Wardlaw, once the site of a Roman fortress and before that, a Pictish encampment. The remains of these two camps are amongst the trees of the copse that crowns the hill. Caerlaverock Castle first came to prominence in the year 1300 when it was besieged by King Edward I. It was significant that the King should come to lay the siege and more significant that he should bring the cream of the English nobility and chivalry to do it. A unique historical rhyming account written at the time in French by Walter of Exeter, records the event. The poem makes much of the heroic attacks of the English on this "Castle so strong that it feared no siege before the King came there". There is comprehensive roll call of the chivalrous knights and descriptions of their armorial bearings but it is unfortunate that there is no reference to the identity of the brave defenders in the work; it would seem most likely that they were Maxwells but we can not say for sure.
A significant part of the original castle still remains in the gatehouse and western wall. This earliest structure was built by Sir Herbert de Maxwell, grandson of the first Herbert de Maccusweil in about 1270. After the siege of 1300 the castle was in English hands for several years before reverting to the Maxwells. Maxwell joined with Robert the Bruce and pulled down the castle to prevent it falling again to the English. The castle was fortified again in 1347 by Sir Eustace Maxwell in the English cause. The Scots came again in 1357 and dismantled it. However by 1425 the Maxwells were firmly back in command and many improvements were made over the next two hundred years culminating the building of the sumptuously decorated eastern range known as the Nithsdale apartments, called after its builder, Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Nithsdale. The period of this structure is clearly indicated by the date 1634 on a window head. During the civil war, the Earl garrisoned the Castle with 200 soldiers and before long it was besieged by an army of the Estate. After thirteen weeks of vigorous bombardment, Nithsdale surrendered the castle on the 29th September 1640. The capitulation lead to the partial destruction of the castle in order that it might be made untenable as a fortress and useless as a residence. Although the castle has never been sold it passed from Maxwell ownership after the death of the fifth Earl's son through the marriage of his daughter and eventually, through inheritance, to the Dukes of Norfolk who placed it in the care of the state in 1946

Maxwell's Castle, Dumfries.

The Castle of Dumfries and Maxwell's Castle are often difficult to separate in ancient texts but were certainly two different structures. The Castle of Dumfries was situated at the southern end of the town whilst Maxwell's Castle was built at the head of the High Street where the Greyfriers Church stands today. The castle was in reality a fortified town house only on a grand scale. The picture shows how the castle probably appeared in the latter half of the seventeenth century. The central edifice was a typical border tower house of the late fifteenth century, however in the picture one can see that this has been greatly modified for more comfortable accommodation. The tower was reputed to have been built in 1300 by Edward I during his siege of Caerlaverock Castle but this seems unlikely and the castle is not mentioned until the fifteenth century. Within the castle walls there was a large barracks built in about 1590 to accommodate 200 troops. Here the Lords Maxwell housed the government troops who assisted them in their role as Warden of the Western March. On the right is the chapel dedicated to St. Bride, the patron of the Maxwell family. The castle was last fortified and manned with government troops in 1715 during the first Jacobite rebellion The castle's owner was however out riding with the rebels! The castle was bought by the town folks of Dumfries who pulled it down in 1720 and the New Church was built on the site in 1727. The New Church was demolished and replaced by Greyfriers Church in 1866.

Hoddom Castle.

Hoddom Castle was built by Sir John Maxwell of Terregles as part of a line of defensive structures completed by him in the 1560s. The lands of Hoddom were original part of the Herries barony but did not form part of that which he got with his bride Agnes Herries and the lands had to be bought from her sister Catherine wife of Alexander Stewart of Garlies. The original structure was four stories and a garret built on an 'L' plan. The stair tower reached up a further level to form a caphouse. The walls at ground level are between nine and fifteen feet thick and rise to seventy five feet at the wall walk. The basement has seven gun slots with another two at the bottom of the wheel stair. The fourth floor also has a number of downward angled shot holes. The castle stood in the northern corner of a four sided courtyard which had round towers of two stories at each of the other three angles. The gate was originally in the north wall beside the tower. Being one of last great towers built in the borders Hoddom did not see a great deal of action. It was reportedly "thrown down" on two occasions but these were undoubtedly the exaggerated reports of English invaders. The castle appears not to have been built as a residence, but more likely as a barracks for troopers to defend the border. The castle is less than half a mile from the watch tower of Repentance and it seem the two were built in tandem the former to support the latter. Captain Grose, who visited the castle in the 1780s reported a great armorial stone over the door of Lord Herries (John Maxwell) Arms, but this has sadly long since disappeared. The Castle was sold to Murray of Cockpool in 1626 by Sir John's grandson, William, Lord Herries. Murray extended the wheel stair up another level and added the distinctive pinnacle roofs over the corner rounds. He also added the first of a whole series of extensions which have scarred the exterior stone work. After several changes of ownership including the celebrated Charles Kirkpatrick Sharp, the Castle came to the Brook family who employed William Burn to modify the place in the 19th century. Burn was a great exponent of the Scottish Baronial style and encased the whole ancient edifice within a baronial mansion. The Brooks family however, took up residence at their other home, nearby Kinmont and Hoddom was rented out. During the second World War the castle and grounds were requisitioned and allied servicemen lived in the extensive structure. The mansion fell into disrepair in the 1950s which prompted the demolition of all the Victorian additions revealing the 16th and 17th century towerhouse. Today the tower is uninhabited and surrounded by a caravan park.

Repentance Watch Tower.

Repentance tower was completed in the mid 1560s. Built for Sir John Maxwell of Terregles in stands on top of Trailtrow Hill amidst an ancient graveyard. There was a chapel in the care of the Bishop as Glasgow here before the tower was raised and the name Repentance may have come from Sir Johns regret at it's demolition to make way for the watch tower. The tower was ruinous in the 19th century and everything above the parapet was rebuilt in the 1880s. The tower looks out over the border and the watch would be able to see raiders fording the Esk and would light a beacon fire and ring a bell to warn the country that an English raiding party was afoot. The fire beacon was on the ground originally not on the stepped roof as suggested by the 19th century repairs. Inside there are three floors but few windows and the tower was not built for comfort. Trailtrow Hill forms part of the barony of Hoddom and as such the watch tower has followed the ownership of the castle.

Terregles Castle.

Terregles, four miles east of Dumfries, was the seat of Lord Herries. The partly ruined tower, on the right of the picture, was built by the Herries family in the 1480's. About 1540, Sir John Maxwell (second son of Robert 4th Lord Maxwell) married Agnes the eldest daughter and co-heiress of William 3rd Lord Herries and the castle passed to Agnes's new husband. Sir John extended the residence and he was known as Sir John Maxwell of Terregles until he was created 4th Lord Herries in 1565. He was responsible for the building of the central block with the large chimney. Mary, Queen of Scots spent several days here in 1568 recovering after the Battle of Langside before she fled into England. The Regent Moray in hot pursuit arrived at Terregles only to find Mary and Herries had gone on to Dundrennan. He intended to pull down the castle but when he was informed that it was Herries' intention to rebuild Terregles himself, the Regent not wishing "to be a barrowman for Herries old walls" allowed it stand. William Maxwell 5th Lord Herries built the third tower on the left about 1600. A carved door from this block was preserved in the later mansion. It was from here that the 5th Earl of Nithsdale rode out to join the rebellion of 1715. After he was captured at Preston Lady Nithsdale buried the family papers and valuable in the grounds of the old castle before going to London to rescue the Earl from the Tower of London. Lady Winifred Maxwell, granddaughter of the 5th Earl of Nithsdale built a new mansion at Terregles. A portion of the new building can be seen in the foreground in front of William's tower. The new mansion was built between 1792 and 1800 after which the old castle was demolished.

Castles and Towerhouses owned by the Maxwell family in Strathclyde.

Newark Castle

Sir William Maxwell of Calderwood settle the lands of Newark and Finleystone on his second son George Maxwell. It was he who built the original tower and gatehouse of Newark Castle in the early part of the 15th century. Overlooking the Clyde estuary towards Dumbarton, the castle stood within a barmkin wall with round towers in the corners, one of which remains. This was later converted in to a Dovecot. King James IV was a guest of the Maxwells at the castle in 1495 and is recorded as having bought fish there. The Maxwells of Newark were much involved in local feuds especially the one between the Montgomerys and the Cunninghams. Siding with the latter, Sir Patrick Maxwell with several Cunninghams, ambushed and murdered Hugh Montgomery of Skelmorlie in 1586. This notorious ruffian was not above outrages within his own family and was accused of murdering his own cousin and namesake, Patrick Maxwell of Stainley. He was present at the Battle of Dryfe Sands in 1593 and the raid on Lockerbie two years later when he was “mortally wounded”. However, not mortally enough to kill him as he lived on for another thirty years. It was he who built the splendid Renaissance three-story central range between the tower and gatehouse in 1597, a date announced by the carved lintels over the dormer windows.
George Maxwell of Newark and Tealing (1678-1744) assumed the name of his maternal grandfather, John Napier of Kilmahew when he inherited the barony of Kilmahew in 1694 He was much taken with the sporting field and spent a great deal on the horses which he stabled in stalls lined with silvered mirrors. He is reputed to have shod his horse with silver shoes to ride to his wedding. Such prolific spending led to the early break up of this vast inheritance and Newark was sold in 1705.
Since early attempts to cut a navigable channel up to Glasgow had failed, the city fathers approached Sir George Maxwell in 1674 and bought eighteen acres of land to the west of the castle to construct a "New Port for Glasgow" which became the urban sprawl of Port Glasgow with its shipyards eventually engulfing the castle and hiding it from public view for nearly one hundred years. When the ship building industry collapsed after the second world war, the great sheds came down to reveal and almost perfectly preserved medieval castle, which is now in the care of historic Scotland.

Calderwood Castle

Calderwood Castle was the home of the Maxwells of Calderwood from the end of the 14th century until the barony was sold in 1904. In stood in Calderglen on an eminence above a bend in the River Calder. The tower dated for the 14th century although it was rebuilt twice in its five hundred years. The first of the Calderwood line was Sir Robert Maxwell second son of Sir John Maxwell of Pollok by his wife Egidia, daughter of Walter, the High Steward of Scotland, and half sister to King Robert II of Scotland. Sir John gave to Robert the valuable land of Calderwood and Miekle Drippes. Sir Robert married Elisabeth younger daughter and co-heiress of Sir Robert Dennistoun of that Ilk and the Maxwell and Dennistoun arms were quartered together for the next five hundred years. Elisabeth brought with her the baronies of Newark, Findlaystone and Stainley the later bordering the abbey lands of Paisley. Other land acquired by the Maxwells of Calderwood included the area now occupied by Glasgow airport and the barony of Dargavel, now the Bishopton munitions works. The early tower faced east-west and was approached by a narrow path on a ridge leading from the side of the deep river valley. It stood four floor high with a garret within a wall walk at the top of the tower. A later stair tower was added to the southerly end. A three story mansion house was built onto the south and east walls of the tower late in the sixteen century greatly increasing the accommodation and bringing the entrance over to the side of the glen. This mansion was further extended and modernized in the early eighteenth century. On the stormy night of 23rd January 1773 the north and west facades of the old tower collapsed into the roaring torrent of the Calder following several days of high water. No one was injured or killed save one of Sir William's hunting dogs which disappeared in to the swollen river and a maid who was scared half to death when her room was suddenly exposed to the snow storm that swirled round the ancient tower. The old tower was rebuilt and seventy years later a gothic frontage was added to the southern approach to the house. This consisted of an octagonal hall with a towering cupola above and four grand rooms leading from it. The side of the valley was cut back and extensive gardens formed to the south and east of the house. Sir William Maxwell, the last baronet, married late in life to woman much younger than himself with a view to producing a son and heir. but it was not to be,  and he died without any children in 1885, his widow living on until 1942. The barony was reduced in Sir William's lifetime as satellite villages sprang up to service Glasgow which in Victorian Scotland was the second city of the Empire. The Irish peer, Lord Farnham was the heir male to Sir William and he sold the barony in1904 when it was only about one quarter of its original size at only 1113 acres. The house was irregularly used over the next forty years although the gardens were well maintained and opened to the public as a pleasure park. The house and tower were demolished as late as 1955, too soon to be protected by the Historic Buildings Act. The barony lands are now almost completely built over by the new town of East Kilbride although the leafy river valley of Calderglen remains a public park.

Mearns Castle

We can date almost exactly the building of Mearns Castle because of the existence of a royal warrant to Herbert, Lord Maxwell for the construction of the castle dated 1449. The barony of Mearns had been in the hands of the Lords Maxwell since the marriage of Sir Aymer Maxwell and his bride, the heiress Mary, daughter of Sir Roland de Mearns in the first half of the thirteenth century. The castle stands on a motte, that is a small man-made hillock standing in the gently rolling countryside south of the river Clyde and modern day Glasgow. It is likely that Sir Roland had built a wooden castle in the fashion of the Norman motte and bailey castles on the site and that this had been periodically rebuilt and repaired until the fine layer ashlar stone tower was built in the middle of the fifteenth century. Of the lands that Sir Aymer had got with his bride the border based family had kept only the large and fertile Mearns barony, the lands of Nether Pollok, Calderwood and Dripps being given to Sir John Maxwell, the younger son of Sir Aymer. The lords Maxwell never lived at Mearns, preferring their barony and other lands of Caerlaverock in the south-west of Scotland. The barony of Mearns was managed by a steward who represented Lord Maxwell in his Renfrewshire lands.
The tower has mighty ten foot thick walls rising four floors to the wall head. There was originally a garret floor above this but it seem that it may have been removed when a license was issued by King James II, to fortify the castle including the words "to erect on top of it all warlike apparatus necessary for its defence". The wall head has been crowned with an array of fine projecting corbels which carried the 'robbed out' parapet wall.
The castle and barony
were sold to Sir George Maxwell of Nether Pollok in the middle of the seventeenth century and later passed by marriage to the Shaw-Stewarts of Inverskip and Ardgowan. The castle became unoccupied in the eighteenth century ant the lower defences of the surrounding barmkin wall and gatehouse were robbed out by locals seeking a easy source of masonry stone. With the barmkin wall went the parapet wall and even the stonework around the bottom of the tower was levered out of the wall, this was however replaced at the end of the nineteenth century. Today the Glasgow suburb of Newton Mearns surrounds the old tower on all sides and a parish church of 'modern' design has been attached to its northern facade, the old castle now forming an unlikely church steeple.

Haggs Castle

Haggs Castle stands in what was part of the Nether Pollok barony in Renfrewshire. The date of the building of the castle can be easily deduced by a double armorial stone over the entrance to Sir John Maxwell of Pollok and his wife Margaret Cunningham dated 1585. Haggs is now oldest secular building in domestic use in Glasgow. Today it is surrounded by by the mansions in the wealthy suburb of Pollokshaws, but up until the 1890's Haggs stood in the rolling open countryside of the Clyde valley. It was was probably built to house Sir John's ever expanding family which were overcrowded in the main residence at Nether Pollok. The towerhouse is not a substantial building reflecting the more peaceful times in Strathclyde in comparison with the condition of the Maxwell families in the south-west of Scotland. From the 1680s it was used as a dower house, for the ladies of the family. Haggs had large domestic grounds with gardens and orchards but was never endowed with lands of its own. In the mid 18th century old Nether Pollok Castle was replaced by the comfortable new Robert Adam designed Pollok House and the Ladies moved there, abandoning Haggs
By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Haggs was in a ruinous state, the ground floor was used as the smithy for the local colliery and the west wall had all but collapsed. But in the 1860's, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok had began to sell off small pieces of his estates to the Burgers of Glasgow who looked for open land to build new houses away from the dirt of the rapidly expanding industrial sprawl of Glasgow. With his new found wealth he was able to restore the ruin of the old castle in a Victorian Baronial style and it became the house and offices for the Estate Factor.
In 1899 a further extension was added including a drawing room and billiard room also a new circular staircase was added to the entrance front. It was requisitioned by the army during the second World War and in the late 1940's the Maxwell Trustees converted it into flats. In 1972 it was bought by Glasgow Corporation, and converted for use as a children's museum. In 1997, it was sold a second time to become once again a private residence. .

Dargavel House

John Maxwell of Dargavel was the second son of Sir Patrick Maxwell of Newark and his wife Helen, a daughter of Sir Neil Montgomery of Lainshaw. In 1516 John obtained grant for the lands of Dargavel from the Earl of Lennox. Dargavel Castle is a 'Z' plan tower house, it consisted of a rectangular central block of three floors and a garret with two large round towers on opposite corners. The Maxwell armorial stone with a stag's head crest on the east gable is dated 1584 but this is likely to represent some additional building work on the structure as it was greatly extended since its original construction. The whole house was reconstructed and extended in 1849 in the Scottish Baronial style by the architect David Bryce. This rebuild obscure much of the original features of the early building including the original entrance. Patrick Maxwell of Dargavel, grandson of John, is reputed to have been one of the Earl of Morton's personal supporters and was killed with him at the battle of Dryfe Sands in 1593, although most of the Strathclyde Maxwell families claim the Patrick Maxwell who lost his life there. What is certain however, is that the Maxwells of Dargavel were involved in the feud between the Montgomery's and the Cunningham family that embroiled this part of the lower Clyde estuary. The principle line of the Maxwells failed in the early part of the nineteenth century and the heiress married John Hall of Fulbar who took the additional name of Maxwell. The Hall-Maxwells of Dargavel were a prolific family and many of the sons became notable military men. The first World War however claimed three of the last lairds sons and two of his grandsons. The barony was sold between the two world wars and the house and its gardens and parkland were taken over by the Government for the Bishopton Royal Ordnance Factory. The old house is now deep inside this secret area, apparently again much altered.