Ike visits Dalzell Estate and Baron’s Haugh

Ike and Jane took some friends to Dalzell Estate and Baron’s Haugh in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. Despite being near the town of Hamilton, many of Jane’s friends had never visited the area so a visit was arranged to this historic area.

Dalzell House dates from the 15th when the tower house was built by the Dalzell family. This can be seen in the centre of the building in the photograph above. In 1645 the Earl of Carnwath granted the Dalzell estate to his nephew James Hamilton of Boggs, who built the first major extensions to the tower house, adding the south wing around 1649. 

In the 1850s John Hamilton (1829–1900), a Liberal politician later ennobled as Baron Hamilton of Dalzell, commissioned a major remodelling of the house. Architect Robert William Billings carried out extensive restorations to the earlier buildings, and added a new north wing. The south wing was also restored in 1869, following a fire. Lord Hamilton served in the government of William Gladstone, who visited Dalzell on several occasions, and the Prince and Princess of Wales visited in 1888. In 1967 it was purchased by Motherwell and Wishaw Town Council. The house then stood empty until the 1980s when 18 private apartments were developed and the house is again occupied. Ike was interested in the three ghosts which are said to haunt the house – The White Lady, The Green Lady and the Grey Lady.

Near to Dalzell House is the Covenanters’ Oak tree which is the oldest tree in North Lanarkshire. It is believed to have been planted by King David I of Scotland as part of a deer hunting park. During the late 1600’s when the Covenanters were being hunted, the Hamilton family gave permission for worship services to be held under the oak.

In August 2008, after a long period rain, part of the tree collapsed and supports and ropes were added to keep it upright.

The Covenanters were people in Scotland who signed the National Covenant in 1638. This was to confirm their opposition to the interference by the Stuart kings in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Stuart kings believed in the Divine Right of the monarch and that they were the spiritual heads of the Church of Scotland. The Covenanters believed that only Jesus Christ could be spiritual head of a Christian church.

After looking at the Covenanters’ Oak the group walked to Baron’s Haugh which is managed by the Royal Society  for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The word ‘haugh’ means flooded meadow. There are usually a number of birds on the haugh including swans, geese, goosander and grebe, etc.

The group visited some of the hides in the haugh and had an enjoyable time observing the birds on the water. They then walked along the path to the River Clyde. On the way there they passed some cattle in the fields on one side of the path.

A path runs along the Clyde on one side of the haugh. The banks of the river at this area are very sandy and this has caused much erosion of the path which runs along the riverbank. Ike was surprised that much of the path had been washed away in the winter after the water in the river rose. The RSPB have diverted the path where this erosion has occurred to make it as safe as possible for the many visitors.

The Hamilton family have a mausoleum in the grounds of Dalzell Estate but the area was so overgrown it was hardly visible. There is also an old well and a gazebo built by Lord Gavin Hamilton in the late 19th century which overlooks the family mausoleum. Again these were difficult to see in the thick undergrowth. The Hamilton family dogs graves are situated next to the mausoleum. Ike was interested in these and was photographed beside them.

On the way back to the car park Ike spotted the RSPB equipment container which was painted with an otter and a kingfisher. Ike was impressed with this which brightens up the car park. It had been a relaxing and interesting walk.