Provan Hall, Easterhouse - Times Past
In partnership with the Glasgow Times, our archivists are exploring Glasgow's fascinating history. This week, Irene O'Brien writes about Provan Hall.
Provan Hall in Easterhouse – is this the oldest house in Glasgow?
Provan Hall has a long and rich history and although Provand’s Lordship is usually said to be Glasgow's oldest house, it maybe that Provan Hall predates it by just a smidgeon.
Provan Hall sits within what was a vast estate of some 5,000 acres covering the north-eastern part of Glasgow stretching from Springburn to Bishop Loch, and from Shettleston to Garthamlock. The estate was one of many estates granted in c.1115 to the Church by the Earl of Cumbria, later David 1 King of Scotland, when the diocese of Glasgow was re-established.
As well as his castle besides the Cathedral, the area close to Barlanark (later known as Provan) was chosen as the country house of the archbishop, with their residence at Lochwood. A couple of miles westward of the bishop’s country seat at Lochwood, within the hunting territory of the bishop’s forest, lies Provan Hall.
Its buildings were originally part of the church of Barlanark which was one of the 32 churches across the diocese whose canons formed the chapter of the Cathedral. The house is said to have been used as the hunting lodge on visits by James IV. Barlanark was a crown grant, and it may have been for this reason that in 1490 King James IV reputedly held Barlanark in his role as canon of the cathedral and Lord of Provan.
Provan Hall – forming the north range of a walled courtyard, is a substantially complete pair of houses, enclosed by a screen wall with gateways. It was the base from which the canon of Barlanark could administer the estate. The incumbent would also have had to spend part of his time within the precincts of Glasgow Cathedral itself.
Provanhall House, which is the older of the two Provan buildings, is thought to be about 550 years old. The exact date of construction is a matter of debate and some architectural features seem to show it to be as old as Provands Lordship (1471) or even up to ten years older. It is the best-preserved medieval fortified country house in Scotland.
After the Scottish Reformation, Provan Hall became a residence of the lawyer and President of the Court of Session, William Baillie and his wife Elizabeth Durham. His daughter, the heiress of Provan Hall married Robert Hamilton of Goslington and Silverton hill. In 1667 their descendants sold Provan Hall to the city of Glasgow who maintained it for 100 years, before it reverted to it to private ownership. In 1938 Provan Hall was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland, and subsequently leased to Glasgow City Council.
In 2003 Glasgow City Council announced its support for a plan to restore Provan Hall. The hall and the Auchinlea Park site became the responsibility of a new heritage trust which will seek funding to restore the buildings and develop a purpose-built visitors centre.