Crookston Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Crookston, an estate, with a ruined castle, on the E border of Abbey parish, Renfrewshire. The estate belonged in the 12th century to Robert de Croc, a gentleman of Norman ancestry, and passing by marriage in the 13th to the illustrious family of Stewart, was then united to the estates of Darnley, Neilston, Inchinnan, and Tarbolton. It was held by Henry, Lord Darnley (1546-67), who became the husband of Queen Mary; and in 1572 was granted to his younger brother Charles Stewart, fifth Earl of Lennox. Afterwards it passed through many hands to the Duke of Montrose, and was purchased from the second Duke in 1757 by Sir John Maxwell of Pollok. The castle stands on the summit of a wooded slope, overhanging the left bank of Levern Water, 3 furlongs above its influx to the White Cart, and 3¼ miles ESE of Paisley. Once a massive edifice, with centre, two lofty towers, and battlemented wings, surrounded by a rampart and a moat, it now consists of only one shattered tower, 50 feet high. John Wilson, Tannahill, Motherwell, Burns, and many anonymous poets have celebrated Crookston in verse; and most persons, though on little better authority than loose tradition, believe that it, not Wemyss, was the scene of Lord Darnley's betrothal to Queen Mary in 1565, and the place where they spent the days immediately after their marriage. A stately yew, known as 'the Crookston Tree,' standing a little to the E, and popularly regarded as having been a favourite haunt of the royal lovers, became eventually blasted and leafless, less from natural decay than in consequence of being hacked and hewn by relic-hunters for pieces to be converted into snuff-boxes and small ornamental articles, till it was eventually rooted up by Sir John Maxwell in 1817. Common tradition, too, asserts that Queen Mary from Crookston Castle viewed the battle of Langside, -. a tradition adopted by Wilson in his poem of the Clyde, and by Sir Walter Scott, both in his novel of The Abbot and in his History of Scotland; but the castle is 3½ miles W by N of the battlefield, is completely hid from it by intervening heights, and, moreover, was in the rear, not of the Queen's army, but of the enemy.—Ord. Sur., sh. 30, 1866. See David Semple's Tree of Crocston: being a Refutation of the Fables of the Courtship of Queen Marie and Lord Darnley under the Yew Tree (Paisley, 1876).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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