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Callendar House

Callendar House, Falkirk
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Callendar House, Falkirk

Set within beautiful parklands a mile (1.5 km) east of Falkirk town centre, Callendar House dates from the 14th C. It was home to the Livingstons of Callendar for almost 400 years and to William Forbes who bought the estate in the 1780s. Originally a fortified tower, it was visited by Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), whose guardian was the Alexander, 5th Lord Livingston (c.1500-53), as well as being seized by troops loyal to Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1658). James Livingstone, 4th Earl of Callendar, lost his estate following his support for the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, and the property passed to the York Buildings Company who leased it to the Earl's heiress, Lady Anne Callendar, who had married the Earl of Kilmarnock. It was bought at auction in 1783 by William Forbes, a London merchant related to the Forbes of Aberdeenshire. In the 19th C., it was restored and remodelled in the chateau style which is evident today. The remains of the original tower can still be seen in the unusual angle of the front wall of the west wing.

Callendar House and its surrounding parkland were acquired from the Forbes family by Falkirk Town Council in 1963 through compulsory purchase to permit the building of high-rise flats. After years of uncertainty, the Falkirk Museums Service was established here in the late 1980s and extensive permanent displays include features on the story of the house together with the social and commercial history of Falkirk in the 18th and 19th centuries. The public can tour the principal rooms, together with the kitchen which is run as it was in Georgian times with cookery displays and period food available for tasting. The museums service has outstations at Kinneil Museum and Grangemouth Museum and Workshop.

Callendar House also includes a History Research Centre, a local and family history archive for Falkirk and the surrounding area, located in the oak-panelled and barrel-vaulted former library in the house.

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