First Crossbasket Extension

Words from “The History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul D Veverka (c)

Now we know that the 1747 map showed Crossbasket as only having a tower and we also know that the sketch by P. Sandby was done in 1765 and showed the mansion house, so we have a clear window of when the 1st Extension, ie the addition of a Georgian Mansion house, was added. Thomas Peter Snr would therefore have been the constructor of the Georgian Manor house, added on to the tower and creating a house with a significantly larger footprint.

Thomas Peter Snr may have taken the decision to upgrade Crossbasket, for a grand, modern house had recently been built on the neighbouring Greenhall estate, not just several hundred yards away and this may have prompted a “keeping up with the Jones’s” mentality.

With the existing tower raised slightly on a mound, the land surrounding it was leveled, creating a flat area to the West, retained by a new stone wall above the Calder river. To the East, the area was dug out deeper to accommodate a basement level for the new Mansion House. Above the basement, were two storeys, the front of the new extension having 7 windows, visible from ground floor upwards. There was also a new arched doorway. Railings were placed around the new extension, for the basement also had 4 windows, letting in light below ground level. The mansion house was built of stone and rendered in an exterior type of plaster, (precursor to roughcasting). The tower however had its stonework left untouched but had its windows enlarged and the “battlements” added to the tower on top of the staircase, a feature only.

In 1765, the text accompanying Sandby’s sketch said, “There is a large modern mansion, attached to its east end, as shown by Sketch. The interior of the keep has been greatly altered to suit modern circumstances. The exterior, however, is mostly old work, but the embrasures on the staircase turret are modern, as is also the enlarging of the windows (except the dormers, which are old). The tower is three stories high, with attics, and has a walk round the battlements.”

The mansion house roof level was about three quarters the height of the tower. Slated, it took the design of the tower’s garret and was likely set off with a mid ridge chimney stack, which in future renovations would be raised, taller clear of the tower. The roofline was finished with 8 stone “battlements” of similar design to the parapets on the square caphouse of the adjacent and older tower. Nearby Mains Castle never had these battlements. The new extension doubled the footprint of Crossbasket and provided additional living space, and useful servants quarters. Even when it was finished, the dominant part of the building, was still very much the original tower.

I was unable to find any etching or painting, other than the aforementioned sketch by Sandy, so I’ve created a mockup as shown below, using a later photo, but stripping back the later elements of the building, back to the size and configuration of what it would have looked like upon completion of this first extension. The illustration is my recommended example of what the building looked like in 1765 (following the extension it would have been ivy free without any flagpole or terraced gardens yet)

Crossbasket 1765 amended

As a personal suggestion to narrow down this extension date, we know Thomas Peter Snr remarried in Margaret Roberton in 1762 and also he sold off a massive portion of Crossbasket lands in 1764. I think to celebrate his new marriage and to make use of his new found cash, he built the mansion house in 1764. In support of this, I think Sandby’s sketch in 1765 was capturing a brand new, ‘modern’ building.

Sometime between 1765 and 1770, Margaret appears to have left Crossbasket and her husband and returned home to Bedlay. The exact date of the quick separation is not known but the Reverend Thomas Lockerby, Minister of the Gospel at Cadder, would afterwards note that: “Margaret Roberton married Mr. Peters, Cardarroch; but she separated from him and came back to Bedlay, and gave £20 sterling to help build Cryston Chapel.

1770 – Thomas Peter (Snr) of Crossbasket was the heritable proprietor of Crossbasket according to the Directory of Land Ownership.

1773 – Thomas Peter (Snr) of Crossbasket and Cardarroch died in October 1773, aged 70. His eldest son, Thomas Peter (younger) of Crossbasket inherited the property, his other son inheriting Cardarroch.

Incidentally, in the dead of night on 23rd January that year, just 9 years after buying Craigneith lands, part of Maxwell’s Castle at Calderwood collapsed catastrophically into the ravine and River Calder below, during a storm. Beautifying his estate did not get off to a good start.

1774 – Margaret Roberton, the absent widow of Crossbasket referring to her earlier 1762 agreement with her late husband Thomas that if he died, she would inherit Cardarroch claimed that he had been: “in a very declining state of health” when he gave a tack for Cardarroch to his son Alexander in 1770, and that: his memory was “much impaired.” It is clear she was aggrieved at the son of a previous marriage obtaining the estate she had been accustomed to living at and perhaps felt cheated.

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