The land here originally belonged to Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, who died in 1303. The Lennox area is shown in the map below.
Earl of Lennox “kingdom”
Through the mists of time the land passed onto the Napier family who built the castle, probably sometime in the 16th Century. The Estate fell out of Napier control in 1820 to Alexander Sharp in payment of gambling debts. In 1848 the land is bought by James Burns.(co founder of Cunard Line with his brother George and Samuel Cunard). In 1919 the land passed onto Claud Allan and then in 1948 the Archdiocese of Glasgow purchased the land.
Orignally a four storey rectangular tower house the castle is now in a ruinous state.
In Annals of Garelochside (found Description of Parish; Kilmahew and Killiter; Ardmore Promontory)
“The chief interest in Kilmahew lies in the semi-ruinous castle, which is situated near the upper end of the glen, with a few old trees, and the site of a large orchard in its vicinity. There is little of architectural interest in the lofty pile, which presents a solid square appearance, its walls being about one hundred feet in height. , Probably it was erected about the period of Oliver Cromwell, and it may have given shelter to some of his adherents in the troubled times of Scottish history. On all sides the walls and windows have been closed up and it is thickly overgrown with ivy on the south wall. Owing to the strange idea of Mr. Sharp, who, for a brief term after 1820 owned the estate, and who thought of making the old castle habitable, it was a good deal altered externally. He knocked out several new windows in the ancient walls, affixed a wooden balustrade on the south wall, and partially built a new entrance, flanked with niches for columns on the south-west angle of the wall. The general outline of the castle measures 46 by 25 feet, and it was altered from being a four storey to a three storeyed building. The broad lintel over the door at the north-west angle bore the motto, “The peace of God be herein.” Some of the corbels left are large and shapely, and there are smaller ones in good preservation. The staircase near the doorway probably was carried up, and the passage along the west wall would give access to the kitchen and cellars. Towards the end of the last century the castle was burnt, when it is likely that the upper part of the battlements was much destroyed.”
St Peter’s Seminary
Access to the Seminary is severely restricted.
The history of the seminary at Cardross begins in 1946 when the existing St. Peter’s College in Bearsden was destroyed by fire. The college moved to Darleith House in 1946 then to Kilmahew House in 1948. Dalreith House was left as a study base for philosophy students. In 1953 the Archdiocese of Glasgow instructed Gillespie, Kidd and Coia practice to design accommodation for 100 students with classrooms, library, dining area, chaapel, convent block and a swimming pool (this was later deleted from their brief). The first sod was cut by Archbishop Campbell on 30th November 1960 with enabling works by Hunter and Clark commencing April 1961 with the main Contractor James Laidlaw and Son beginning workin in June 1962
The students eventually took ownership on 1st October 1966 with the inauguration on St Andrew’s Day 1966. The Diocese took the decision to close St Peter’s in 1979 and it finally closed in 1980. In 1983 the Church Social Services Department commenced using the site as a Drug Rehabilitation Centre until 1987 when the building closed for the final time. Extensive vandalism occured onsite resulting in a fire in Kilmahew House which resulted in it’s demolition in 1995.
St Peter’s Seminary was listed Category “B” in 1971 and upgraded to Category “A” in 1992.
1967 RIBA Architecture Award to Gillespie Kidd and Coia for St Peter’s. Jack Coia received in 1969 a RIBA Gold Medal. In celebration, the Scottish Arts Council commissioned a film.
Film by Murray Grigor
1972 Murray Grigor completed a film called “Space and Light” at St Peter’s Seminary.
Scottish Screen Archive entry for Space and Light
In 2006 Murray received Scottish Art’s Council Creative Scotland funding to unite Grigor’s 1972 Cardross Seminary film with a shot-for-shot remake.
LINK to SCRAN entry showing close location of Kilmahew House to Gillespie, Kidd and Coia building.
LINK to SCRAN search for Kilmahew House
Scot’s Baronial style mansion designed by John Burnet (Elder) in 1865 for John William Burns (son of James Burns mentioned above). The house was designed with three reception rooms, 21 bedrooms and dressing rooms, a billiard room and a library. John landscaped most of the lands in the area as well as building two lodges, one at each of the entrances to the site, a walled garden and a stable complex.
John William Burns’ son leased the estate in 1908 to Claud Allan who then bought the estate in 1919.
Claud Allan added sewage works, a gasometer as well as tennis courts and a golf course.
The Archdiocese of Glasgow bought the site in 1948.