Kirkconnell – A house steeped in local history
It seems uncertain as to when exactly the Pele Tower at Kirkconnell House was built. However, the first family to live here took the Kirkconnell name and it was Janet de Kirkconnell in about 1430, when she married Aymer Maxwell of Caerlaverock Castle, that brought the Maxwell name which prevailed through the centuries until the house was sold to the present owners in 2001.
Separated from the tower, a bastille house was built with 3 foot thick walls.The front door of this old house now forms the internal door to the kitchen. Look for where the Maxwells sharpened their swords ready to fight rival clans.
The next part of the house was the ‘Queen Anne’ wing built at right angles to the Manor house. Today it has two en-suite bedrooms and the ‘attic bedroom’. Look through the peephole in the attic and see how they numbered the timbers with Roman numerals and used hand hewn wooden pegs instead of nails for the construction of the roof.
James Maxwell fled to France with Bonnie Prince Charlie and returned in 1750 bringing French brickmakers with him. The bricks were made down by the River Nith at the front of the house. It was James that constructed the Georgian front, probably the first brick built house in Scotland, and put the large windows in the southern wall of the tower (games room). James’s son William went on to build the chapel block in the early 1800’s. As this was before Catholic emancipation it was made to look more like a mill with windows that could be opened up at a later date, these never have been.
It was also about this time that the walled garden was built. It faces south with 15 foot high walls creating a very protected environment in which to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers for the house. The north wall has a twin skin with fire holes in it so the wall could be heated to protect tender fruit.
Kirkconnell House is a delightful jumble of styles and buildings which we hope will endure for centuries to come.