Holmwood House – Glasgow

Last month we visited Holmwood House in Glasgow which is an Arts and Crafts property owned by the National Trust. It was designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. It isn’t a massive house, just four bedrooms and over the years has been owned by various people, before the National Trust took it over a Roman Catholic convent inhabited it and they made some strange changes to some rooms, including installing ‘confessionals’ in the dining room! The National Trust is slowly putting the place back to how it looked in its glory days.

The hall walls have just recently been refurbished, all hand painted by four men apparently, I don’t know how they had the patience for that!

Holmwood in Glasgow

There are various designs of floor tiles that have withstood the years well.

Victorian Hallway floor tiling

There had been a private school in residence at one point and had damaged the lovely wooden flooring, all part of the building’s history now I suppose.

Upstairs room wooden floor

I’ve never seen a ceiling like the very ornate one on the oriel window of the drawing room below. It was designed so that the blinds and curtains are recessed behind it so you can’t see the top of them, very posh!

Drawing room Holmwood Glasgow
A close up of the window recess ceiling.
ceiling Drawing room , Holmwood

The colour scheme in the drawing room is certainly vibrant.
Holmwood Drawing room

I have no idea why there’s a hallstand in the drawing room. Holmwood is still a work in progress.
Drawing room , Holmwood, Glasgow

The ceiling ‘rose’ in the midle of the drawing room ceiling is quite unusual, the actual ceiling is marbled, a paint effect I think. At first glance I thought they had had some water damage but phew, it’s meant to look like that.

Holmwood Drawing room  ceiling

I have quite a few more photos but that’ll do for now. I thought I’d already done a post about the outside of the house but apparently not.

Battlefield/Langside in Glasgow

One day last month we decided to travel to my beloved west of Scotland, all of seventy or so miles away from where we now live, but a miss is as good as a mile – as THEY say. We were aiming to visit Holmwood House, an Arts and Crafts house which is now owned by the National Trust. I’ll blog about that house sometime in the future.

On the way back from that part of Glasgow I mentioned to Jack that an ancestor of mine (great great uncle?) had designed a church and monument in Battlefield, which happened to be the area we were in, just as I said that we passed the monument which is now situated on a traffic roundabout! The Wiki link is wrong, I think that must have been his son who went to Australia.

Battlefield Monument

It’s much bigger than I had imagined. The monument commemorates the Battle of Langside in 1568 which ended with the defeat of Mary, Queen of Scots’s army on that site, or certainly nearby. Alexander Skirving designed the monument in 1887 which was the 320th anniversary of her defeat.

As ever, we in Scotland are always in a bit of a quandary, would we have supported her or been on the other side? I suppose it depends which religious leader you favour – the Pope or John Knox. What a choice!

The church is now a bar and eatery, as so many of them are nowadays, if they haven’t been turned into flats or demolished. We had already had our lunch at Holmwood, we’ll try that restaurant out another time though.


Battlefield/Langside Church

After that the only thing I wanted to seek out was the street that I knew must be fairly nearby, named after the architect and also of course my own maiden name. With a bit of help from a passerby we found it, as you can see it’s typical Victorian tenements, it’s actually quite a long street the photo below is about half of it.

Skirving Street

There are shops further up, including a bookshop which very annoyingly was closed for the day. It was a bit surreal to see my surname above a Chinese take away. They’re usually called Lucky Date, Golden Moon or some such thing, but I suppose it means that people won’t forget where it is! It’s something that Alexander Skirving could never have foretold when he designed buildings for this area.

Chinese cuisine

There aren’t that many of us about with that Skirving surname, in fact I’ve never met any that I wasn’t related to. It appears in ancient Scottish surname books, but not in ordinary ones, and is of course originally Scandinavian/Viking. Some people like to think that in Britain our ancestors have been here forever and a day, but like everywhere else we’re just a bunch of mongrels when you get right down to it.

street sign

St Mungo’s Churchyard Penicuik, Midlothian

We were driving through Penicuik a couple of weeks ago when I spotted a Commonwealth War Graves sign on some old churchyard gates. There was a car park just across the road so we were able to stop for a mooch around the graveyard which is a really old one and has the remains of an ancient church in the middle of it, as well as the large replacement Victorian church which is still in use.

Penicuik St Mungo's

Penicuik St Mungo's

Penicuik St Mungo's 7

The photos above are all of the original St Mungo’s. The photo below shows part of the Victorian replacement.

Penicuik St Mungo's 4

Some of the gravestones are really ancient. There are the usual warning signs of danger from unsafe stones.

Penicuik St Mungo's 6

This is one from the sixteenth century, back and front – the best I’ve ever seen of that type.

Penicuik St Mungo's

Penicuik St Mungo's

From what I can make out it’s of Annie Melrose, spouse of John Hodge. In Scotland women are (or were) reverted to their maiden name after death. It makes sense because often men went through three or four wives what with women dying in childbirth or whatever.

St Mungo – or St Kentigern as he is sometimes called – is patron saint of Glasgow but was apparently born Culross which is not far from us in Fife.

Glasgow Interiors by Helen Kendrick

Glasgow Interiors cover

Glasgow Interiors by Helen Kendrick is a beautifully produced book with lovely photographs by Neale Smith – of all sorts of Glasgow buildings interiors, it was one of the many books I got last year for Christmas and I’ve been dipping into it throughout the year, so it has taken me until now to reach the end.

The interiors featured include the small but perfectly formed art deco University Cafe in Byres Road, a great place to go for an ice cream and the fish suppers from their take-away next door are the best I’ve ever tasted – and I’ve tried a fair few chippies in my time. That’s the smallest interior I think, most of the others are very grand indeed and quite a lot of them have changed use over the years – from private homes or churches to hotels, restaurants or wine bars.

I now have a long list of places to visit whenever we go to Glasgow in the future as I want to see some of the glories in reality.

The most popular designs in Victorian Glasgow are art nouveau and even the common closes/stairways of tenement buildings often have wonderful tiled walls, with the doors also having beautiful stained or leaded glass window panels in them, very stylish, but something that I really took for granted when I was younger. It’s only recently that I realised that Edinburgh Victorian tenements don’t have the same elegant style, they just have plain painted walls and doors. Glasgow has always had a lot more style than Edinburgh – in the surroundings and the people!

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work doesn’t feature in this book though. It’s explained that there are already many books dedicated to his designs which is fair enough.

I read this book for the Read Scotland 2016 Challenge. It’s my number 35.

Pollok House and Garden in Glasgow, Scotland

Here we are back at Pollok House and Garden, you can see my previous post about it here.

Pollok House  garden

Unfortunately the wedding which was taking place inside the house later went outside for the reception in one of those wedding marquees, not my idea of an elegant do but they are very popular nowadays. It meant I couldn’t get photos of all of the garden.

Pollok House  garden

I do love box hedging and it’s so easy to strike cuttings from any trimmings you make. I think I’ll make some sort of wee design in my own garden, nothing grand like this of course.

Pollok House  garden

Below is an area of mixed flower beds.

Pollok House  garden

And a stone wall bedecked with self seeded flowers.

Pollok House  garden

No grand house is complete without a lovely bridge it would seem. This is the bridge which the Clydesdale horse in my previous post walked over.
Pollok House bridge

The tearoom is located in what was the kitchens of the house and it’s obviously the place to go for lunch as it was very well patronised. It’s worth taking a look down there even if you don’t want anything to eat or drink as it’s all very Downton Abbey-ish, with the butler’s telephone booth. I recommend the gingerbread though Jack chose the shortbread, we sampled each others – as you do, both were very tasty. There’s also a good exhibition of Scottish landscape paintings downstairs.

It was a good day out all in all.

The Glasgow Tenement House

After we visited the very grand Pollok House in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago, we decided to go to the other end of the National Trust properties in Glasgow – the tenement in Buccleuch Street in Garnethill, not far from the Art School. Sadly I wasn’t able to take any photos of it, this is something which drives me round the bend as I can’t see a down side to people taking photos in NT properties. Obviously the camera’s flash could be turned off if they are worried about ancient tapestries that would be damaged by the light.

You can see a few photos of the tenement flat which are online here and here.

Miss Agnes Toward lived in the flat for about 50 years and in that time she doesn’t seem to have changed anything, even having gas lighting up until the 1960s. So it’s a bit of a time capsule, the flat has just one bedroom in it but the kitchen and the front room (parlour) both have a bed recess and box beds fitted into them.

Sadly there seem to be no photos of the bathroom online. It has a lovely basin in the shape of a shell with the water coming out of a smaller shell instead of a tap, and more shell shaped grooves for the soap and whatever.

It was all very familiar to me as I was born in a Victorian Glasgow flat, although it was a larger one with ornate cornicing and ceiling roses. In fact Jack did mention that the glass lemon squeezer on display in the kitchen is exactly the same as the one which we still use, there were quite a few things there which we have in our home.

The Tenement House is well worth a visit, it’s a wonderful glimpse back for anyone interested in social history.

Pollok House, Glasgow, Scotland

Pollok House  garden entrance

We found ourselves in Glasgow not long ago, unexpectedly really as we had been asked to drive someone to the airport. The last thing that we fancied doing was trailing round shops so as it turned out to be a lovely day we decided to visit Pollok House, a very grand Georgian House, the grounds of which are now a Country Park, very popular with the locals. If you click the link you’ll see lots of photos. The house is now owned by the National Trust and when we were there we were just about the only people looking around it. A wedding was due to start shortly and the library was the venue so we were given a look around there first, so that we would be out of the way when the ‘kilties’ turned up, as the guides said of the bridegroom and his supporters. The chap showing us around couldn’t have been nicer, it was all very interesting, even for someone like myself who isn’t terribly keen on old Spanish art, of which there is a lot there. I must admit that the El Greco is very good – Lady in a Fur Wrap.
It’s hard to believe that this painting was done around the 1570s.

It’s amazing to think that you’re in a very busy big city, it’s all very rural and this big chap caused quite a stir when he came across a bridge, heading for his stable, I think everyone loves these Clydesdales, if that’s what he is, some sort of heavy horse anyway.

Pollok House horse

I think he was happy to reach his stable, where he had a pal already there, but unfortunately it was too dark inside to get a photo of his companion.

Pollok House horse

As ever, we weren’t allowed to take any photos of the inside of the house, which is beautifully furnished. But I do have some of the gardens, which I’ll share with you at a later date.

The Duke of Wellington in Glasgow

More often than not the statue of the Duke of Wellington at Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow has a traffic cone on his head. Apparently it was way back in the 1980s when someone decided that the addition of a cone would be an improvement and it’s the sort of irreverence which goes down well in Glasgow.


But the powers that be feel the need to remove the cone, feeling that somehow it gives Glasgow a ‘bad name’. How out of touch can you be?! Everyone goes there especially to see the cone topped statue. Anyway, it’s never gone for long as some daredevil usually takes their life in their hands to replace the cone within 24 hours.

Just before Christmas Santa climbed up there and the police arrested him, much to the chagrin of the bystanders. You can see some photos of the incident here.

And following the horrific accident which occurred on December, 22nd a lovely Glaswegian changed the normal traffic cone for a black one. It was only fitting that Old Ironsides should be in mourning with the rest of us.

I took the above photo of the statue on Saturday when we were in Glasgow, amongst other things we visited GOMA which has an Alasdair Gray exhibition on at the moment.


Jericho Sleep Alone by Chaim Bermant

Jericho Sleep Alone cover

I was almost at the end of January when it dawned on me that although I’d been getting a lot of reading done, due to being stuck in the house trying to avoid the worst of our weather – but I hadn’t read anything by a Scottish author. So I quickly remedied that by reading Jericho Sleep Alone by Chaim Bermant. Chaim Bermant was a Jewish author who wrote about what he knew, what it was like growing up in a Jewish family in Glasgow.

I read a lot of this author’s books way back in the 1970s but I don’t think I read this one then. Jericho Sleep Alone was first published in 1964. The setting is mainly Glasgow although Jericho does go to Israel for a while. The story begins just before Jericho’s Bar-Mitvah and continues through his school and university days, and on to his attempts to get a suitable job and then his experiences on a kibbutz. Poor Jericho is a disappointment to his parents, he’s a failure at everything he tries out and he doesn’t even have any luck with the girls either.

That makes it sound like a depressing read but there are some funny characters which lift the whole thing and Jericho himself always had my sympathy. Of course Bermant was writing about family life in a Glaswegian/Jewish household and I remember being engrossed in the books, loving the settings and mentions of the Glasgow streets and people going off for their summer holiday to places like Helensburgh, all of 20 miles or so from Glasgow, but a different world from the city.

Jewish/Glaswegian families didn’t seem to be much different from any other Glaswegian families and from my very small experience of the matter it seems to me that Jewish sons just enjoy complaining more about their mothers than anyone else, the mothers themselves seem like many others to me.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to pick up this old copy of the book in a charity shop in Aberdeen, in very good condition with its dust jacket which was designed by Hugh Marshall. I mention this because Jack and I were at an antiques fair a few months ago and we stopped at a book stall. Jack got into conversation with the stall holder about one of his books and the guy said proudly that he had bever read any of the books which he sold because he was only interested in the covers and their artists. Each to their own I suppose!

This novel appears in a list of 100 best Scottish Books.

Although I enjoyed it, I think from my memory his later books are even better.

This is the first book I’ve read for the Read Scotland 2015 Challenge.

The Glasgow School of Art

On our pre-Christmas visit to Glasgow we ended up way up at the top of Sauchiehall Street, we hadn’t meant to walk that far but it was a nice bright day and we just kept finding more and more good buildings for Jack to photgraph, he’s a bit of an art deco fan.

The Art School

Anyway as you can see from these photos we decided to hike up to the Art Nouveau Glasgow School of Art as it was so close to where we were, and I mean hike, I had forgotten how steep that hill is! As you can see from the photos a large part of the building is swathed in scaffolding and I think some sort of covering has been put over the top, to keep the rain out.

The Art School

There was a chap on the TV recently saying that they should NOT rebuild the library and the rest of the damaged building as it was, but should add on a modern design instead. I really hope that that was just some hopeful architect in wishful thinking mode because although a newly built Mackintosh building is obviously not going to have the same history as the original, it’ll be an awful lot better than some random structure being tacked on to Mackintosh’s masterpiece.

Art School

As you can see from the photo above the undamaged part of the building has some lovely details but apparently his designs were always practical as well as pretty. The metal brackets at the windows were for the window cleaners to put their ladders against. I still wouldn’t fancy that job though. If you’re interested you should have a look at the lovely images of The School of Art here.

I think it’ll be scandalous if a decision is taken not to rebuild the damaged parts of the building as they were originally, apart from anything else a new extension to the Art School was just opened across the road from the original – and it is in a modern architecture style, and I bet it doesn’t last anything like as long as the old building has, I give it 30 years!