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Cowdon Hall

Landscape (Period Unassigned), Policies (Post Medieval)

Site Name Cowdon Hall

Classification Landscape (Period Unassigned), Policies (Post Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Kouden; Cowden; Crofthead

Canmore ID 330071

Site Number NS45NE 113

NGR NS 4698 5726

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/330071

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2018.

Collections

Administrative Areas

  • Council East Renfrewshire
  • Parish Neilston (Renfrew)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Renfrew
  • Former County Renfrewshire

Activities

Field Visit (6 June 2007)

The remains of Cowdon Hall stand 660m NE of Smiddyhill farmsteading, on the leading edge of a steep terrace overlooking the valley of the Levern Water (Neilston Gap) to the NW. Surviving architectural features indicate that it was probably a 17th century laird’s house and farmstead with 18th century additions, Today, all that is visible of the house is its ruinous SW end and an outshot, standing in the corner of a field of rough pasture; the NE end of the hall and other elements of the site have been destroyed.

The disposition of the buildings that once stood here is probably best depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 1:2500 map (Renfrewshire 1858-63, Sheet XVI.2). This shows two unroofed buildings, about 20m apart, standing at the NW and SE ends respectively of a rectilinear enclosure. The NW building was a range measuring about 28m in length which contained two compartments of unequal size, the smaller at the SW end. An outshot projected from the SW end of the SE side of the range. The building at the SE end of the enclosure measured at least 10.5m in length.

The surviving fragment of the range measures 6.3m in length (from NE to SW) by 7.3m in breadth over lime mortared rubble walls which range in height from ground-level on the NE to at least 6m in height at the SW gable. These walls, which bear traces of pink external harling, measure about 0.9m in thickness on the NW and SE, but 1.1m at the gable. This gable contains, at ground-floor level, a fireplace (1.5m wide) with chamfered jambs and stone lintel above which are the remains (springers and one voussoir) of a relieving arch. The rear of the fireplace is contained within a stack which projects 0.6m beyond the outer face of the gable. Other than the fragmentary chimney, there are no significant surviving architectural features at first floor level.

In the NW wall there are the remains of a window, its external surround bearing a narrow chamfer; a break in the NE wall adjacent to the gable is probably a doorway that was created when the outshot was added. The interior of the range is largely choked with rubble, but the footings of a cross-wall 4m from the gable contain the NW side of an internal doorway, the jamb of which is roll-moulded. Other architectural features with chamfered surrounds are visible immediately NW and SW of this jamb, but their exact character and context is obscured by rubble.

The outshot measures 6.9m from NW to SE by 5.9m transversely over walls up to 0.9m in thickness and ranging in height from 1.5m on the NE and SW to 4m (external) at the SE gable. Although it has been built onto the side of the earlier range, this structure appears to have been constructed with an independent NW gable, providing a combined wall thickness of 1.9m. The most likely reason for the provision of this independent gable is that the outshot was a single storey structure with a cruck-framed roof, and a gable at both ends would have been necessary to carry the weight of this, probably thatched, roof without seriously interfering with and altering the fabric of the SW wall of the existing range. Two cruck-slots, one each at the mid-point of the NE and SW walls, demonstrate how the outshot was roofed. The slot in the SW wall is well preserved, measuring some 0.25m in width by 0.4m in depth and set about 0.6m above the original floor level. However, the damaged slot in the NE wall is more informative. Its timber has been set into the rear of the slot and although it has long since been removed, the original angle it rose at is preserved in the mortar that once partly encased it. This indicates that the internal height of the apex of the roof was in the region of 4m.

In addition to the opening in its NW end, which led through into the range, the outshot has opposing doorways at the NW end of both the SW and NE sides, the latter bearing a jamb with an external broad chamfer and an internal door-check. There are also the remains of a window in the NE wall.

Visited by RCAHMS (AGCH) 6 June 2007.

Field Visit (2013 - 2013)

The remnants of the designed landscape of Cowdon Hall lie approximately one mile west of the town of Neilston, East Renfrewshire. Extending to over 13 hectares much of the land is on a north-west facing slope extending along the south side of the Cowdon Burn, Lochlibo Road (the A736) from Neilston to Lugton, and the railway line from Barrhead to Dunlop.

Settlement on the site is known to date from at least the 1630s with the construction by William Cochrane of the Cowdon Hall whose remains are present today. However a structure ‘Kouden’ is recorded on Timothy Pont’s Renfrewshire Manuscript, estimated to have been drawn between 1583 and 1596, suggesting there may have been an even earlier house on or near this site.

Following the development of the textile industry along the Levern Valley in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and the establishment of the Crofthead Mills, the mill owner James Orr built a mansion, Crofthead House, alongside in the 1830s. Some thirty years later his nephew Robert Orr replaced Crofthead House with a new mansion on the same site called Cowdon Hall. The landscaped setting for this new house was extended and embellished.

Although the family left the house in the early 20th century when Crofthead Mills passed into the ownership of a large textile thread company, the house continued to be used by the new owners with the surrounding landscape maintained for the use of the mill workers. The house and ancillary structures, including the stables, conservatories and glasshouses, were demolished in 1964 with maintenance of the designed landscape ceasing. The North Lodge has been demolished though the fine gate posts survive. The South Lodge survives in private ownership and has been extended.

Today although much of the landscape is overgrown many features of the design are still discernible and the site is popular with the local community through informal access. Plans for improved access to the site are under consideration.

Information from the East Renfreshire Designed Gardens and Landscapes Group, 2013

References

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