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Home > New Search > Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire

Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire  Scotland 
Ferniegair, South Lanarkshire, Scotland

Circa Date: 1693-1701 w/mid-19th century additions and alterations

Status: Destroyed
Details: House demolished 1920s; site now occupied by Hamilton Palace Sports Ground's car park and Bowling Pavilion.

Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

District Today
South Lanarkshire
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date
1693-1701 w/mid-19th century additions and alterations

Color woodblock print from the circa 1880 publication Morris's County Seats

Click on thumbnail for a larger view

Color woodblock print from the circa 1880 publication Morris's County Seats
One of a pair of 1820-30 fireplaces from the Long Gallery (now for sale at Dalva Bros.)
One of a pair of 1820-30 fireplaces from the Long Gallery (now for sale at Dalva Bros.)
Carved and gilded crest of the 10th Duke of Hamilton's Arms in a private Boston collection
Small, metal, gold-plated cups with the coat of arms of the Duke of Hamilton
The Old Dining Room in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2013
The Chimneypiece in the Old Dining Room in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2013
The East Wall of the Old Dining Room in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 2013
The Mausoleum from an 1878 illustration
Early 19th century Baroque style carved giltwood center table made in Glasgow by William Murray for the 10th Duke and sold May 2016 by Freeman's

Designed   North Front for Alexander, 10th Duke.
Date   Completed 1842

Designed   Hamilton Mausoleum for 11th Duke of Hamilton
Date   1848

Designed   Extensive additions and renovations for 3rd Duke and his Duchess, Anne.
Date   1693-1701

Designed   Bowling-green temple (1736-37) and Chatelherault, also called the Hunting Lodge or Dog Kennel, (1731-44) for 5th Duke of Hamilton.
Date   1731-44

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Extant Details
House demolished 1920s; site now occupied by Hamilton Palace Sports Ground's car park and Bowling Pavilion.

House Listed As 
Gardens Listed As  
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
Adam, W., pls. 6-11, 13, 160, 1810.
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Vol. I, p. 260, 1852.
Country Life
XLV, 662 plan, 716, 1919. XLVI, 479 [Pictures], 514 [Pictures], 558 [Silver], 1919. CXXXVI, 1716 [Chatelherault], 1964.
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Grounds Only
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
Primary Current Ownership Use
Visitor Attraction
Current Ownership Use / Details
Part of the Palace grounds are open to the public. The South Lanarkshire Council conducts guided tours of the Mausoleum from the Low Parks Museum and also operates Chatelherault (the hunting lodge). The Palace site is now occupied by the Hamilton Palace Sports Ground's car park and Bowling Pavilion.

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
A Past Seat(s) of
Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, Douglas-Hamilton family.
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
The Palace was built on the site of a 13th century tower house.
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
House & Family History
Hamilton Palace was the grandest seat in Scotland and contained the finest collection of paintings in the country. The House was built on the site of a 13th century tower house, its grand form begun by the 3rd Duke of Hamilton to the designs of James Smith. (The Hamilton dukedom is the third oldest in Britain, surpassed only by those of Norfolk and Somerset, and the senior title in Scotland, dating from 1643. The 1st Duke of Hamilton, a favorite of Charles I, led a Scottish army to England in 1643, was defeated by Cromwell at Preston, and beheaded.) In the 1840s the monumental North Front, with its grand portico of ten 25-foot-high columns, was erected for the 10th Duke by the architect David Hamilton. The interiors were noted for their sumptuousness, with exceptional stucco work and fine stone throughout. The Palace’s decline began in June 1882, when some of the choicest treasures were sold at a massive auction by Christie’s, under the orders of William, the 12th Duke (1845-95), who was a notorious spendthrift. King George V and Queen Mary made a State Visit to Hamilton Palace during World War I when parts of the great house were used a naval hospital. In 1919 the Palace was discovered to be sinking due to mining subsidence (coal mines were tunneled directly beneath the House) and the decision was taken to demolish the Palace, which took place during the 1920s. The remainder of the great ducal collection was auctioned by Christie’s during a three-day sale in November 1919. The London dealer Robersons purchased all the paneled rooms in the Palace in 1920, subsequently selling them on to various clients. The only complete and assembled room to survive from the Palace is the Old Dining Room, today installed at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Drawing Room from the Palace is currently owned by the National Museums of Scotland, where it is in storage. Several feet of wrought iron railing from the Palace grounds can be seen today outside Hamilton College in South Lanarkshire. Some of the Palace fittings are on view in the Low Parks Museum in Hamilton (the old Palace Coach House).
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

For information on the history of British currency, click here.  To use a chart that allows you to compare the purchasing power of money In Great Britain from 1264 to any other year, including the present, click here.  To use a currency conversion to see the current value of the British pound, click here.
Hamilton Palace is famous for two spectacular sales, the first being the 17-day extravaganza conducted by Christie’s in June of 1882, and the second, also by Christie’s, a three-day auction in November 1919. The latter, which auctioned the remainder of the great ducal collection not sold in the 1882 sale, was necessitated by the imminent demolition of the great house. The catalogs of both sales are available on our site as pdfs, and be viewed by clicking on the "Related Resources" section of this record. The 1882 catalog is annotated with the prices realized and each buyer’s name. In the early 19th century George Watson Taylor formed an important collection at Erlestoke, Wiltshire, of pictures, porcelain, and French furniture, including a commode and secretarie by Jean-Henri Riesener made for Marie Antoinette (William Beckford considered Erlestoke's collection better than his own at Fonthill). Taylor was declared bankrupt in 1832, with debts of £450,000, and a sale of the collection of Erlestoke (sold in 3,572 lots) took place the same year. The Riesener commode and secretarie were purchased by the 10th Duke of Hamilton for Hamilton Palace. During the sale of the contents of Hamilton Palace in 1882 the commode and secretarie were purchased by Mrs. William Vanderbilt; they passed by bequest to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, were they remain today (the Met's James Parker called the pieces "two of the most splendid pieces of French furniture ever created…" in the 1996 book "Period Rooms in the Metropolitan Museum of Art"). A solid gold teapot and stand (with fruitwood handle and bone finial) by Robert Sharp and Daniel Smith, made 1785-86, is today in the collection of The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham. The teapot was made for Beckford and is engraved with his arms and those of his wife, Lady Margaret Gordon, and was in his collection at Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire, and Lansdown Crescent in Bath. Gold objects from this period are exceedingly rare (utilitarian objects like this teapot are virtually unknown, largely because the softness of the gold makes them impracticable) and are mostly confined to racing trophies and other presentation pieces. It is virtually impossible to tell this teapot from teapots of the same style produced in silver gilt; only its owner would have known that it was made of solid gold and not silver gilt. The teapot was apparently very important to Beckford, as he kept it until the end of his life. After Beckford’s death the teapot and stand passed to the Hamilton family and were sold in the sale of silver and gold from Hamilton Palace at Christie’s in 1919. A fantastic cup and cover of lapis and hardstones (the stones probably 18th century Florentine) with silver-gilt mounts by John Harris (English), 1826-27, was formerly in the collection of Fonthill Abbey, from whence it descended to the Dukes of Hamilton and was sold in the Hamilton Palace sale of 1882; it is today in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. On July 7, 2005 Christie's sold from Elton Hall, Peterborough, a Louis XVI ormolu-mounted carved agate ewer and basin, the agate being 17th century and the ormolu mounts of 1785. The ewer and basin was at one time in the ownership of William Beckford, from whence it passed into the collection at Hamilton Palace. In the great Hamilton Palace sale of 1882 the ewer was one of the few pieces selected for illustration in the catalog by means of an engraving. "Lady in a Red Corset and Satin Dress" by Jean-Honore Fragonard, formerly at Hamilton Palace and today in a private collection, was one of the artist's last works and, atypically for Fragonard, is not flamboyant and sensuous, but reflects a new direction in his stylistic development: the style of 17th century Dutch genre paintings. The Fragonard was recorded at Fonthill Splendens in 1801, where it hung in the upstairs gallery; it was also at Fonthill Abbey, where it was in the Dining Room. The painting followed Beckford to Lansdown Crescent and thence passed to the Hamiltons, where it was sold from Hamilton Palace in the sale of 1882. "Daniel in the Lions' Den" by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1614-16, was once in the collection of Hamilton Palace; it is today in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. An exceptionally fine French lit à la duchesse en imperial (full-size domed canopy bed), made in Paris circa 1782-83 by Georges Jacob, is today in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. The carved, painted, and gilded bed has Beauvais hangings designed by Jean-Baptiste Huet and woven between 1782 and 1783. The carving, by an unknown artist, is in a floral motif and is of a uniformly high quality. The bed was last documented in France in 1791, when it was in the large bedchamber of the Hôtel de Belle Isle, the Paris home of Guyonne-Marguerite de Durfort de Lorge, Duchesse de Choiseul-Praslin (1737-1806). During the Revolutionary fervor that shook France in the early 19th century the bed was sold repeatedly, finally being purchased in 1830 in Paris by the 10th Duke of Hamilton, who installed it in the state rooms at Hamilton Palace. The Duke’s grandson, the 12th Duke, sold the bed, together with much else, at the great Hamilton Palace sale of 1882. After passing through the hands of a number of dealers, the bed was acquired in 1897 by the financier George J. Gould (son of the famous robber baron Jay Gould), whose wife, Edith Kingdon, used it in the bedroom of their New York City townhouse. Kingdon Gould, Edith’s son, gifted the bed to the Met in 1923 in memory of his mother. A large, early 19th century Baroque style carved giltwood center table (see photo in “Images” section), made in Glasgow by William Murray for the 10th Duke of Hamilton, was sold in May 2016 by the Philadelphia auction firm of Freeman’s. The table was commissioned by the Duke as a stand for a prized pietra dura top. The table was described in the 1852-53 Hamilton Palace inventory as "a large and splendidly Carved and gilt Table with Pietra Dure Top inlaid with rare marbles and precious stones &c," and further in the 1876 inventory as "A Magnificent Pietra Dura Table 8 ft 2 by 4 ft on a Handsomely Carved & Gilt Frame." The table was sold as Lot 666 in the famous Hamilton Palace sale administered by Christie, Manson & Woods, which took place over the course of 13 days from June to July 1882, where it was recorded as being sold to a dealer named Duncan for £105. It was then acquired by the politician Christopher Beckett-Denison to furnish his new house at 41 Upper Grosvenor Street, London. Beckett-Denison died only two years later; the table was again sold at the Christie’s sale of his collection on July 15, 1885, Lot 333. It was described in that catalog as "AN OBLONG TABLE, of old Florentine pietre dure mosaic, of unusual dimensions, on boldly carved and gilt stand with trusses and stretcher -8 ft. 2 in. by 4 ft/From Hamilton Palace.” The table then passed, in the 1950s, into the collection of Belcourt Castle, Newport, Rhode Island; it lastly entered a private collection in Newport before its 2016 sale.

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
The grounds are today part of a 500-acre country park open to the public, with a number of follies and outbuildings extant, including William Adam’s bowling-green temple of circa 1736-37, built for the 5th Duke of Hamilton. The Hamilton Mausoleum was designed by David Bryce for the 10th Duke of Hamilton in 1848 as the burial vault of the Hamilton family. (The Mausoleum is famous for its 15-second echo). Chatelherault, also called the Hunting Lodge or Dog Kennel, was built 1731-44 to the designs of William Adam for James, 5th Duke of Hamilton. The interior features very fine plasterwork of circa 1743 by Thomas Clayton (the west wing interior burned in 1944). Though usually called the Kennels or Hunting Lodge, Chatelherault was also a banqueting pavilion and featured very fine walled parterre gardens in the rear. The building comprises two pavilions linked by a gateway and housed kennels, stables, and accommodation for hunting parties returning from the woodlands to the south. During the construction of Chatelherault the Dukes of Hamilton were claiming the French dukedom of de Châtellerault (from the French town of Châtellerault), which was bestowed upon an ancestor, James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran. (Lord Arran was chosen as Regent of Scotland following the death of James V and was declared Heir Presumptive of the Crown March 13, 1542. For his services in promoting the marriage of Queen Mary [aka Mary, Queen of Scots] to the Dauphin of France he was created Duc de Châtelherault in 1549). The Scottish government acquired this huge folly and the High and Low parks of Hamilton in the late 20th century in lieu of death duties. Historic Scotland spent 10 years and £7 million restoring Chatelherault, opening the restored building to the public in the 1990s, with a new visitor center to the rear. Chatelherault, the Park, and Mausoleum are all now managed by South Lanarkshire Council and open to the public.
Chapel & Church

Location for Movies / TV

Author   Colvin, Howard
Year Published   1995
Reference   pg. 896

Author   Kidd, Charles; Williamson, David (Editors)
Year Published   1990
Reference   pg. P 560

Author   Ostergard, Derek E. (Editor)
Year Published   2001
Reference   pgs. 312, 324, 325, 326, 327

Author   Verdi, Richard
Year Published   1999
Reference   pg. 72

Author   Kisluk-Grosheide, Daniëlle; Munger, Jeffrey
Year Published   2010
Reference   pg. 98

Author   Peck, Amelia; Parker, James; Rieder, William; et al
Year Published   1996
Reference   pg. 105

1882 Auction Catalog, 134 pages (14.3mb), view PDF
1919 Auction Catalog, 60 pages (3.5mb), view PDF

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