Kimmerghame House

 

 
Kimmerghame House deigned by the renowned Scottish architect David Bryce 1859
 

 


Fire at Kimmerghame House
The house as above with most of the contents including many valuable works of art and furnishings was largely destroyed by fire in 1938 as a consequence of a workman's error as electricity was being installed. Some information regarding the family records and  portraiture can be gathered from the book "Concerning Swinton family records and portraits at Kimmerghame" published by J Lindsay Edinburgh in 1908 - accessible on line from the Open Library
House immediately post fire

 

 
The present Kimmerghame House

The lands and estate of Kimmerghame came into the ownership of the family of Swinton in 1776 when Archibald Swinton of Manderston married Henrietta Campbell of Blythswood in Glasgow.

The Swintons are an ancient family who can trace its roots back to Eadulf 1 King of Northumberland in the year 886 and who are reported  to have been given the name Swinton for their achievement in clearing the area of wild boar. The creature is prominently portrayed in the coat of arms with the motto j' espere - je pense. Note the boar gates in the above image.

Henry de Swinton was one of the 13 names put forward in 1291 for the arbitration of Edward I of England as to rightful guardian of Scotland following the death of  the Maid of Norway and he swore fealty to Edward. Later however the family supported Robert the Bruce in the Wars of Independence.

Sir John Swinton the 14th. of that ilk fought for John of Gaunt, distinguished himself at the Battle of Noyon and was a commander at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 but gallantly fell at Homildon Hill in 1402.

Sir John 15th. of that ilk fought against the English in France at the Battle of Bauge in 1421 and reported slew the Duke of Clarence, brother of Henry V of England. This event is recorded by Sir Walter Scott in his poem "The Lay of the last Minstrel".

" And Swinton laid the lance in rest,
That armed of yore the sparkling crest
Of Clarence's Plantagenet".;

He was however killed three years later at the battle of Verneuil where the Earl of Douglas also fell.

During the time of the Civil War the Swintons initially supported the Royalist cause and Sir John the 19th.of that ilk fought and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. He later however switched allegiance and is recorded as being "one of Cromwell's most trusted men" but come the Restoration his estates were forfeit and he was incarcerated in Edinburgh Castle for six years. His trial and imprisonment feature in Sir Walter Scott's novel "Heart of Midlothian".

The estates however were restored following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and Sir John, 25th.of that ilk was one of the founders of the Bank of Scotland in 1695.

During the course of the French Revolution Captain George Swinton at great risk to himself helped many to escape the guillotine and the book "The Scarlet Pimpernel is believed to have been largely inspired by his heroics.

In more recent times perhaps one of the most distinguished members of the family, unfortunately now not nearly as well remembered or recognised as he should be, was Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton (1863 to 1930) who as early as 1908 described an electronic method of producing television. He rather than James Logie Baird has at least some claim to be regarded as the true inventor of television.

When the building was largely destroyed by fire in 1938 the nearby Stichill House was in process of being demolished and stone from that house was used in the partial rebuilding. Equally just over a year later during World War 11 as Charterhall Airfield was being built a few miles away stone from the unrestored part of Kimmerghame was used in its construction.

The property remains in the ownership of the family.