Derelict Bannockburn House step closer to community ownership

Bannockburn House. Picture: www.bannockburnhouse.scot

Bannockburn House. Picture: www.bannockburnhouse.scot

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A derelict mansion where Bonnie Prince Charlie met his mistress is a step closer to community ownership thanks to a £25,000 grant from the Scottish Land Fund.

The Bannockburn House Trust has been awarded the cash to get a valuation and put together a business plan to buy the grade A listed building near Stirling.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart spent a night in the house in 1745 during his march south to gain support for the Jacobite cause.

Then in January 1746 he made the three-storey house his headquarters during his return north from Derby, ahead of his defeat at Culloden in April that year.

The mansion, built by Sir Hugh Paterson around 1675, is currently on the property market for offers of around £1.25 million.

The initial grant comes as a result of a successful Stage 1 application to the Scottish Land Fund, which supports communities to buy land and other assets.

It is hoped a Stage 2 application will also be approved and provide cash to enable the Trust to make a bid to purchase the property from English businessman Peter Drake.

Anne Smith, secretary of the Bannockburn House Trust, said: “We are over the moon to have been successful in our Stage 1 bid. Everyone is really positive and very excited to be a part of this.

“It feels like things are definitely moving in the right direction, and we are working very hard to reach Stage 2 as quickly as possible.”

Bonnie Prince Charlie developed a fever while lodging in Bannockburn House. He was looked after in the three-storey mansion by Clementina Walkinshaw, an ardent Jacobite supporter who would later become his mistress and mother of his only daughter, Charlotte, born in 1753.

The Trust is pursuing ambitious plans to spend up to £15 million to purchase and redevelop the house and its surrounding land.

The property has been unoccupied for the last 40 years, but it was opened up to more than 2000 visitors last month for the first time in decades.

A community buyout group was formed, with initial plans including a visitor centre, an equestrian centre and stables, a health and wellness centre, spacious amphitheatre, a glass conservatory and a series of incubator units for businesses and artisan workshops for artists and craftsmen.

The designs to buy and redevelop the house and surrounding land are proposed to be carried out in stages over a six-year period from 2017-22.

It also emerged the property could feature in future episodes of hit drama Outlander, or other series.

The selling agents have given the group until Christmas to prepare a bid.

The Trust will seek to match funding for the £25,000 grant it already has, including an application for cash to Stirling Council. Fundraising and other revenue streams are also being discussed.

Meanwhile, the building could be reopened to the public for an event in the run up to Christmas.

Chris Ashton, a spokesman for the selling agents, said: “The community of Bannockburn has done an amazing job with the house, and organising the open days. We are very happy to work with them.

“We’d love the house to end up in the community’s hands, but it has to be the right offer, within the right timescale. My concern is that Mr Drake is a very elderly gentleman.”

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