The earliest reference to Hallyards seems to be 1559 when the house was much smaller than it is now. The oldest portion of the building appears to be the SE corner, where there remains part of a small rectangular dwelling-house, originally measuring about 38′ by 21′ over all. It is thought that this may have been part of the tower-house that was standing upon the lands of Hallyards in 1666, and is probably of 16th- or early 17th-century date. It is in this part of the building that a carved lintel bearing the incised initials I S and H G has been reused. The date, 1647, is perhaps the date that John Scott of Hundleshope and Helen Geddes were living at Hallyards (they married in 1635).
At about the end of the 18th century a two-storeyed addition, incorporating a bow-front, was added to the NE gable of the old house. Further additions and alterations were made to the house in the 19th century. Other dates are evident in the stonework, such as 1791 on the key stone in the stables, 1810 on the entrance to the walled garden from the Yew Avenue and 1851 along with WA (for William Anderson) along with the Anderson Crest above the porch. Modest alterations were further carried out in the 1950’s, separating the buildings into two units.
As a Grade B listed building it is described by Historic Scotland as “a rambling composite house of some size in limewashed harling. Extended and remodelled at various times, the core must be 17th century, the bow fronted wing late 18th century; pedimented stables are dated 1791. Altered and added to by Sir Robert Lorimer, 1897.”
Some old OS maps can be found here.
The start of our historic photograph collection is here. And past aerial photographs are here.
Campbells – In 1787 Mungo Campbell of Grenada (also known as Mungo Campbell of Kailzie) bought the Hundleshope estate from the Laidlaw family, which Hallyards was a small part thereof. It was described “to consist of the farm of Hundleshope, 200 acres arable, and 2000 of excellent sheep-pasture ; Bellanridge, a farm of 200 Scots acres; and Hallyards, on which there is a convenient house, a good garden, and a pigeon-house, along with the Mill town, mill, and parks”. Mungo Campbell was part of the illustrious Campbell family, which formed a number of the West Indies trading companies of the time, including those founded by his brothers named “John Campbell Snr & Co” and “Colin Campbell & Co of Greenock”. Mungo was succeeded in 1794 by his son Robert who then sold the estate in 1813 to his cousin Alexander Campbell (matriculated by Lord Lyon in 1814 as Alexander Campbell of Hallyards). This Alexander Campbell was a highland cousin of John Campbell Senior (Mungo’s brother) and came from Doune, the cradle of the family, hence the nickname Sandy Doune. Born in 1768, he was a man of great energy; the head of a large family, a captain of the Highland Sharpshooters, an ardent supporter of the Celtic Society and his business acumen earned him the additional nickname of Business Sandy. He died in 1817 at which point it is thought that Hallyards was separated from the Hundleshope estate and then sold by Alexander’s son, ‘White’ Mungo (or more officially Mungo Campbell Jnr), in 1836.
With thanks to Geoff Daniels for untangling the Campbell family history.
Prof Adam Ferguson – Whilst not an owner, Edinburgh University Professor Adam Ferguson rented Hallyards House from Robert Campbell for some fourteen years as a part-time residence (he also resided in Neidpath Castle). He is most famous as author of “the History of the Roman Republic”. Under his tenancy the gardens were enlarged and a sun-dial placed in the centre of the main walled garden bearing the inscription ‘ SOLI POSUIT. A. FERGUSON, 1803.’ Please see here for more details.
Sir Walter Scott & The Black Dwarf – Perhaps the most famous visitor to Hallyards was writer Sir Walter Scott. As a friend of Adam Ferguson he had occasion to visit Hallyards in 1797 and during this summer visited David Ritchie who lived in a cottage near the farm of Woodhouse. Ritchie became the inspiration for Scott’s character, Elshender the Recluse or the Black Dwarf of Mucklestane Muir (subsequently revealed as Sir Edward Mauley) in his novel, the Black Dwarf (1816). Ritchie is buried in the nearby Manor churchyard with a monument to his memory built in 1845 by W and R Chambers. A statue of the black dwarf was commissioned by Andrew Clason (who bought Hallyards from the Campbells in 1836) and this is still situated just in front of the main house. A short video about the Black Dwarf from local film-maker Mark Nicol is available here.
Sir Robert Lorimer – In 1898 the famous architect Robert Lorimer was employed by Dr William Anderson to advise on significant alterations to the house and gardens at Hallyards. A contract dated 16th March 1898 exists in the Lorimer collection at the Edinburgh University library confirming the appointment of contractors although other evidence supports that not all of Lorimer’s suggestions were incorporated (see below for a sketch of the proposed alterations!) All this said, the influence of Robert Lorimer is still clear within the house today.
PS – If we have made a mistake here or you know of some additional colour on the house, its history, the people that lived there or anything else please drop us a line! We are also on the lookout for any old photos showing the house, inside or out, or the gardens…