Old Mains Place – Medieval Roots

oldplaceA building I find particularly interesting and has a bit of a mystery attached to it, has various names in Blantyre. Some people call it Old Place, Old Mains, Mains Old Place or more recently, The Coach House. Having encountered the history of this house through research, the correct name really is simply “Mains” or at a stretch ” Mains Old Place”.  The Coach House was added by an unknown owner in the last 20 or 30 years and despite hard evidence that coaches DID stop there, the name doesn’t do the centuries of history at this location any justice. The name Mains is important.

Lets start at an 1859 map. Marked and sitting alone in a High Blantyre field is “Mains Old Place“. The Valuation Roll for that year describes the property “A superior dwelling having a good garden attached, and approached from the Parish Road by a good private Road. It is built upon the site of the Old Mains of Blantyre Priory, a house which, from descriptions given of it, seems, in some measure to have been a fortified dwelling having a moat around it. The old house (Mains) was taken down and the present one erected, about fifty years ago, since which time the name “Old Place” has been added, from the old house being, at the time it was pulled down, a very old place or house.”

A couple of important points here. History recorded in 1859 that the house sits on an older site where once an older fortified house stood. If we’re talking moats and property of the Priory, the older house would be medieval and certainly older than the perceived 1762 date attached to the property. That’s worth noting too. Whilst the property is believed to be around 1762, the account states the current house was built around 1809, which given its remarkable condition seems quite likely.

Mains is the original and proper name of the dwelling house at present standing, but it is always coupled with the modern addition “Old Place”. Neither name can be dispensed with from the other, the one being as much used as the other. Lord Blantyre, by agreement made with the Feuar when the lands of “Mains” were feued, possessed the right of having a room in the house at certain periods to hold a Baron Court. A Right which may be said to exist in name only, as it was never asked or demanded.

Uncovering that there used to be a fortified house there would be an important part of Blantyre’s history. Intrigued, i checked with Ordnance Survey who informed me that they dispatched a surveyor in 1953 concluding “Mains Old Place is built upon the site of the old farm of Blantyre Priory; a house, which seems to have been a fortified dwelling having a moat around it. The old house was taken down. Old Place on site of Mediaeval house. No information relating to this older house was encountered during investigation. The present owner knows nothing of its existence; but states that from time to time many large stones are dug up in the garden – possibly foundations. A stone taken out of the house sometime ago, bore the date “1762”. The present building appears to be of this period.
Visited by OS (J D) 26 August 1953.”

You can read about the letting of Mains Old Place to tenants here

It would appear all traces of medieval property are now gone or buried. Finally, I would say again the name “Mains” is important. Why? Well, directly opposite in the field beyond around the time of this map was Broompark House. Prior to it being called Broompark, there is evidence that particular house was called “New Mains”. i.e Old Mains and New Mains were two houses, beside each other, complimenting each other and built of a similar time. Broompark was commonly used to describe New Mains from the mid 1850s and survived as a name for the area even today. The area and Land of Mains, may even have given the name to the eventual nearby “Main Street” itself.

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