Shawhill Estate

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Shawhill Estate
 Shawhill Estate shown within East Ayrshire
Council area East Ayrshire
Lieutenancy area Ayrshire
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Kilmarnock
Postcode district KA1 5HZ
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
List of places

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Shawhill was an estate within a wide meander of the River Irvine in Hurlford, East Ayrshire, Parish of Riccarton, Scotland. Shawhill House (NS 245954 637634) still stands, however the office buildings are now a private dwelling and much of the estate has also been sold.


The house and estate

In the late 18th century the Shawhill Estate was held by William Herbert, the Laird of Shaw, he had two sons, John and George. Losses brought about by the American War of Independence resulted in such losses that he was forced to sell the estate.[1] John Carse, grandfather of the well known Paxton, Cowie, and Stewart families purchased the estate[1] and built a house on an elevated site to the south of the old farmstead, naming it Shawhill. Mr Carse later sold the property to John Carlyle who had made his fortune from plantations in the West Indies.[1] Upon Carlyle's death in 1822 Shawhill was greatly enlarged and improved by Colonel Clark. In the 1870s John Stewart of the firm of Stewart Brothers, Clothiers, Kilmarnock and London, owned the estate.[1]

The Category B Listed house that exists today dates from 1820[2] and has a large Doric porch, five bay windows at the front and five chimney pots on a single pediment above the front door. An older building of white-washed stonework is incorporated at the back. A Gothic summerhouse with a broad-eaved square construction of the same era as the house is present.[3] The house is of two storeys; projecting office wing with bowed end - walled garden at the side.[4]

Shawhill Farm sits close to the banks of the River Irvine and once had stepping stones crossing over towards Templetonburn and the site of the old Holmhead dwelling of Thomas Raeburn, the 'Ayrshire Hermit'.[5]

McMichael records Shawhill as being one of "the chief seats in the parish", lying in a portion of the parish, south of Galston.[6]

A drowning

The meaning of Shaw is a place with a small natural wood, thicket, or coppice[7]

Mr. Roxborough, a weaver of Galston, after a drinking bout lasting several days, called for his suit one night, saying that the gentleman in black wanted him. Leaving the house with the imaginary man he was found later found drowned at the large whinstone rock near the southern termination of the Shawhill woods by some of Mr Carse's sons. Margaret Irvine[8] of the nearby old Shaw Farm had something of a reputation as a witch and it was thought appropriate that a man drowned by the Devil should be recovered by one of his adherents. Placed on a cart, the body was taken to Galston, accompanied en route by an unknown man dressed in black.[9]

Shawhill Estate is located in Scotland
Shawhill Estate
Shawhill Estate
The location of the Shawhill Estate, East Ayrshire


File:Shawhill house, riccarton.jpg
Shawhill House frontage

Thomas Raeburn, a well known eccentric and gardener for John Carlyle, used to cross the River Irvine from his property at Holmhead on stilts.[10]

Mr Carse and a group of farmers built the schoolhouse on the Riccarton Road and appointed a teacher.[11]

Mr Carse protected a fine old thorn tree that grew at the Hurlford Bridge end by having a pair of jugs attached to it, made by David Brown the local blacksmith. These were never used; however' they acted as a deterrent to local children who might harm it.[12]

It is recorded that at the Shawhill Estate was located the best chestnut tree in the village and when the village boys ventured to harvest the chestnuts, old Neil O' Shawhill would fire his 12 bore high up in the tree to scare them.[13]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Wilson. Page 74
  2. Love, Page 123
  3. Close, Page 124
  4. British Listed Buildings Retrieved : 2012-01-05
  5. Wilson, Page 7
  6. McMichael, Page 138
  7. Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved : 2012-01-06
  8. Wilson, Page 61
  9. Wilson, Page 62
  10. Wilson, Page 63
  11. Wilson, Page 40
  12. Wilson, Pages 40 & 41
  13. Hurlford Village Retrieved : 2012-01-06
  • Close, Robert (1992). Ayrshire and Arran: An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Pub. Roy Inc Arch Scot. ISBN 1-873190-06-9.
  • Love, Dane (2003). Ayrshire : Discovering a County. Ayr : Fort Publishing. ISBN 0-9544461-1-9.
  • McMichael, George. Notes on the Way Through Ayrshire. Ayr : Hugh Henry.
  • Wilson, M. (1875). The Ayrshire Hermit : Tammie Raeburn. Hurlford Sixty Years Ago. Kilmarmnock : Alfred chas. Jonas.