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An invitation to meet the Duchess at Kinneil House

16 April 2010

One of Kinneil House’s most famous past residents - Anne, Duchess of Hamilton - will be welcoming visitors to the fine historic mansion on the outskirts of Bo’ness next weekend.

A costumed interpreter playing the great 17th century lady will entertain audiences at two free open days on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th April.

There will also be an opportunity to enjoy free tours of this splendid heritage property - and view the beautiful 16th and 17th century painted decorations adorning the walls and ceilings of the Arbour and Parable Rooms.

The open days have been organised jointly by Historic Scotland, which cares for Kinneil House, and the charity The Friends of Kinneil. The events will run from noon to 4 pm each day, with last admission 3.30 pm.

Born in 1631, Anne, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, was an impressive and influential character.  She and her husband William were responsible for the major expansion of Kinneil House in the late 17th century.  This saw the original 15th century tower house adjoined to the nearby palace building by means of one of two decorative towers, flanking the original tower house.

Sheena Garden, of Historic Scotland’s Interpretation Unit, says: “Anne, Duchess Hamilton, played such an important part in the history of Kinneil House so it’s fitting that visitors meet her.

“Our talented costumed interpreter will be giving hourly performances to bring her story and the past of this fascinating mansion to life to enhance the tours of the property.

“We first introduced visitors to the Duchess at Kinneil House last year when we ran this event to tie in with Scotland’s Year of Homecoming.  It proved extremely popular so we hope that it will now encourage many more visitors to come along to this outstanding site.”

Bruce Henderson, chairman of The Friends of Kinneil, said: “We’re pleased to be working with Historic Scotland on a new series of open days at Kinneil House.

“You can visit the grounds and its neighbouring museum throughout the year. However, access to the big house itself is limited to special open days like this.

Last year, five similar events, run in conjunction with Historic Scotland, attracted 1700 people – and we’re expecting similar interest this year.

“Kinneil House is a wonderful place to visit and I’d encourage people to come along and enjoy the free tours. The addition of performances from our ‘Duchess’ will make the April openings even more special.”

As well as the Duchess events on 24th and 25th April, Kinneil will also be open for free tours on 27th June, 29th August and 31st October. For full details, please visit

Kinneil House is the centrepiece of the magnificent Kinneil Estate, a public park owned by Falkirk Council.  The estate features a cottage used by inventor James Watt, the ruins of a medieval church, and remains of a Roman Fortlet – part of the Antonine Wall, Scotland’s latest UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There is also a small museum in the former stable block in front of Kinneil House. The museum is open throughout the year, from 12.30 pm to 4pm, and admission is free. It interprets the House and the wider estate and features an audio visual show and hands-on exhibits.



  • Kinneil House is located on the western edge of Bo’ness, off the A904 (follow signs for Kinneil Museum).

  • Set in a public park, the oldest part of Kinneil House is a 15th century tower remodelled by the Earl of Arran between 1546 and 1550 and transformed into a stately home for the Dukes of Hamilton in the 1660s.

  • The grounds contain the ruins of James Watt’s cottage and the boiler of his Newcomen Engine.

  • The history of Kinneil dates back to 1323 when lands were granted by Robert I to Walter Fitzgilbert of Hamildon, the head of the family which later produced the Dukes of Hamilton. The Hamiltons’ main seat was in west central Scotland but over the centuries Kinneil became their base in the east. In the 1400s they built a small tower house here in an easily defensible position overlooking a ravine.  In the late 1400s or early 1500s the tower house was enlarged.  In 1553 James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, built a palace to the north east of the tower house to its north east. In 1667, William, 3rd Duke of Hamilton and his wife Anne launched a major expansion of Kinneil House. Within a century, however, the Hamiltons had ceased to use Kinneil, and rented it out to tenants.

  • The Friends of Kinneil was set up in 2006 to support and promote the development of Kinneil House and the surrounding estate and area, and to enhance and protect its heritage. Over the past few years it has worked with Historic Scotland to improve public access to Kinneil House, running a series of free open days. It also takes part in other activities within the estate. The Friends of Kinneil is a registered charity (Charity Registration Number: SC038368). Find out more at

  • Kinneil House is one of 345 heritage properties and sites throughout Scotland in the care of Historic Scotland.  From the Highlands and Islands to the Borders, these range from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings. They include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit:

  • Historic Scotland’s mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • Historic Scotland’s current ‘Make Your Own History’ membership promotion is offering 15 months’ membership for the price of 12 when membership – enabling unlimited access to over 75 heritage attractions -  is purchased by direct debit.  Family membership costs less than £7 a month.  For more information on the ‘Make Your Own History’ membership offer, visit:

For further information

Ellen Drummond Ferroni
0131 668 8685 / 07801 820757