Duchess comes home this weekend

SHE was born at the court of Charles I – and lived until the reign of George I. She was instrumental in the development of the town of Bo’ness . . . and became known as the “good duchess” because of her charitable works. And she was one of the leading Scottish ladies of the 17th century.

Now, Anne, Duchess of Hamilton is to be brought back to life – with the help of an interpreter from Historic Scotland.

An actress playing the great lady will appear at Kinneil House in Bo’ness this weekend – as part of a national celebration to mark the year of Homecoming and the great families of Scotland.

The performer will take part in two, free open days being run by Historic Scotland, in conjunction with the charity The Friends of Kinneil. The House will be open on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, from noon until 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.) There will be performances from “Duchess Anne” at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. – as well as tours of the building.

Bruce Henderson, the chairman of The Friends of Kinneil, said: “This special event will really bring the history of Kinneil back to life, and runs as part of a wider initiative to tell the story of the great families of Scotland. Buildings across the country are taking part.

“A performer will play Anne, Duchess of Hamilton – a key member of the Hamilton family and a formidable lady of the time.

“Visitors will be taken back to 1692, just after the death of the Duchess’s daughter-in-law at Kinneil. We’ll hear about the Duchess’s large family; the Civil War and Restoration; her father’s execution; her mother’s early death; the loss of her homes (including Kinneil) and much more.

“Each performance should last around 20 minutes, and will be complemented by tours of the inside of the building, supported by our volunteers.

“We think it will be a fantastic event – and a great addition to the Homecoming celebrations taking place across Scotland.”

Kinneil House, which dominates a large parkland – Kinneil Estate – dates back to the 15th century and was once a popular home for the Dukes of Hamilton. The building was re-modelled in the 1540s and transformed into a stately home in the 1660s. In the early part of the 20th century, the house and estate were sold to Bo’ness Town Council. In 1936, the local authority stated demolition work, but halted the process when the rare renaissance wall paintings – said to be some of the best in Scotland – were discovered by a worker.

The buildings were put into the care of the Ministry of Works, now Historic Scotland.

For the past two decades, access to the house has been limited. However, Historic Scotland has been working with The Friends of Kinneil group to improve public access to the building.

The open weekend marks the first two of five, free open days at Kinneil House this year.

Visitors will be able to access further tours on:

Saturday, June 27, 2009 (Bo’ness Fair event)
Sunday, September 20, 2009 (Kinneil Heritage Day)
Saturday, October 31, 2009 (Hallowe’en event)

Neighbouring Kinneil Museum – which provides information on the history of the House and Estate – will also be open.

For more information please visit http://www.kinneil.org.uk/homecoming

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. Kinneil House is just off the A993 – the main road through Bo’ness in central Scotland. For location information visit http://www.kinneil.org.uk/map

2. Kinneil House is only during special open days. However, neighbouring Kinneil Museum, run by Falkirk Council, is open to the public throughout the year. The Museum is normally open Monday to Saturday from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The surrounding Kinneil Estate features remains of the Antonine Wall and is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.

3. Kinneil House is one of 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Stirling, Edinburgh and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. Find out more by visiting http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk

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