Provan Hall, Glasgow

Posted on March 17th, 2010 by Charles Boot

Alison Allighan writes:

In September 2009 we were commissioned by Glasgow City Council to assess the significance of the surviving terraced gardens attached to Provan Hall in Garthamlock (right), to the east of the city. Parts of the building date back to 1575 and it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Glasgow. Although little is known about Provan Hall, until the early 16th century it is recorded as being attached to Glasgow Cathedral, and is illustrated on the Timothy Pont (c1583–96) and Joan Bleau (1654) maps as situated on the edge of the Bishop’s Hunting grounds, then on the outskirts of the city. Between the early 1500s and 1935 Provan Hall was largely in private ownership, apart from a period from 1667 to 1729 when family debts forced the sale of the property to the Burgh of Glasgow. From the mid 18th century the estate appears to have been managed primarily as a farm but in the late 19th and until the sale of the hall to the National Trust for Scotland in 1935, became renowned for its south facing terraced gardens; one observer even compared them with those at Drummond Castle!

By the mid 20th century both house and grounds had fallen into disrepair and the property surrounded by industrial development and a municipal tip. In the early 1970s Glasgow City Council embarked upon an ambitious reclamation scheme to create a new public park, Auchinlea, to the south and west of Provan Hall. Unfortunately, even as recently as the 1970s attitudes towards conservation were not what they are today, and the lower terraces of the gardens were bulldozed, levelled and incorporated into the new park.

Provan Hall from Auchenlea Park: remnants of its terraced gardens show the lack of connection to new Park layout with an intrusive wall severing all links (photo by Alison Allighan)

Provan Hall from Auchenlea Park: remnants of its terraced gardens show the lack of connection to new Park layout with an intrusive wall severing all links (photo by Alison Allighan)

The only remnant of the lower gardens, the former orchard area, is a group of cherry trees, probably around 100 years old which still fruit prolifically. Whilst the creation of Auchinlea Park has undoubtedly improved the overall setting of Provan Hall, the retention of only the top terrace gives the impression of a fortified property with little relationship or access to the park. Further, the loss of the much of the terracing has made it impossible to ascertain their date of construction or original purpose. As a result, a landscape which once may have been a candidate for the Inventory in Scotland can now only be accredited with Regional/Local interest owing to the age of the principal building.

Provan Hall’s remnant gardens (photo by Alison Allighan)

Provan Hall’s remnant gardens (photo by Alison Allighan)

Provan Hall is now leased by Glasgow City Council and used as an educational centre, and the council is giving some consideration to restoring the terraces. With so little information surviving on which to base a reconstruction, we have advised that this may not be the best course of action and perhaps consideration should be given to trying to visually and practically link Provan Hall to its new setting.


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