Blantyre Priory is probably about the oldest monument our town has. I’ve been fascinated by the old building for quite some time and finally got round to investigating something i’d intended to for a long time. Just who on earth actually was responsible for destroying much of the Priory, even from beautiful adequate ruins pictured like the one here last Century leaving it just a pile of stones as it is today. I now have some answers which i would like to share!
I’ve uncovered an old mid 1800’s written account of the Priory which was written just after a particular individual removed many of the walls, without the permission of the Owner. Yes, Blantyre Priory did have an owner then, the Right Noble Charles, Lord Blantyre.
The account relates that in 1841 Alexander Mason, the farmer occupying nearby farmhouse Craigknowe (near the railway line on Ferme Road), was responsible for dismantling the walls and carting away the stone. Horrified, local people quickly informed Lord Blantyre, for although Lord Blantyre owned the farm outright and the Priory, he was not away, nor had given any permission for Alexander to do this! He quickly put a stop to it, extensive damage had been done.
The account gave a nice description of the building from 1859 which was clearly far more substantial than little ruins left today. “The ground on the rutside – the west , of the ruin. This Arch is not seen until upon the side the rocks stand. It is entered from the rock side of the ruins. The space between the arch & the north & south walls it is within, is solid masonry, but it is not seen from the outside being, like other parts of the building, covered by grass. The height of this arch above the ground, on the side where it is entered, is not above 5 feet. The other sides around it, are on a level with the top. The East wall of the ruins is built exactly on the edge of a steep rock. The rocks are too perpendicular to [show-longer] & steeper than shown upon the Trace. There is a wall on the south, west, & part of the north which appears to have inclosed the courtyard. It is not more than the ordinary thickness of walls of the present day. The walls which stand above the level of the ground are shown in a firm thick line. Those level with the surface & beneath it, showing the foundations, are shown in a dotted line. “
Nothing much of Blantyre Priory remains, so it’s important we archive the history of this building, preserving the photos of how it once looked.