A Brief History of Carriden House

Detail from the Lloyd Verney stained glass window

The oldest part of Carriden House which still stands is the eastern tower and was built by John Hamilton of Letterick in 1602. This original tower is best viewed from the east lawn (to the right as you come up the drive). The original tower was unornamented, on five storeys, and with a steeply pitched stone roof. The turrets, the bay and oriel windows and the slate roof are all Victorian additions.

During the 18th century the house passed through numerous hands. A number of well-known families were represented. The house itself appears to have changed little during that time, but the mid-18th century was a time of great enthusiasm for grandiose landscaping schemes around country houses, and in around 1750 up to a metre of soil was added to the gardens surrounding the house to level the ground.

Sir George Johnstone Hope

This had the effect of changing the former ground floor of the house into a virtual semi-basement on three sides, with soil up to the window sills. There are records of a variety of Roman artefacts being found during the landscaping work, but the extra soil had the effect of burying any traces of Roman, Celtic or later occupation of the site.

Admiral Sir George Johnstone Hope bought Carriden in 1814. In 1805 Admiral Hope fought with Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, commanding the 74-gun battleship Defence. He died in 1829, but was succeeded by his son, James Hope, who also rose to become Admiral of the Fleet, seeing action in South America and China.

After James' death Carriden passed through various offshoots of the Hope family including, between 1890 and the First World War, to the Lloyd Verney's. The wife and children of Colonel George Hope Lloyd Verney are celebrated in the semi-circular stained-glass window, which surmounts a doorway at the foot of the west wing staircase.

1913 sketch of Carriden House

During the war the house was used as a soldiers' convalescent home. Afterwards it was successively owned and rented by various occupiers, until it was finally purchased in the late 1960's or early 1970's by the South of Scotland Electricity Board with a view to building a power station on the site. This plan never came to fruition, but meanwhile the house was neglected, and became dilapidated and structurally unsound.

It was purchased in 1977 by the Barkhouse family, who worked on it for almost 20 years, before moving to the former coach-house and steading to utilise their talents there. The Blackbourn family purchased the house in 1996, and are continuing the task of renovation.