was first mentioned by the Venerable Bede in the 8th Century; "called
in the Pictish language Peanfahel but in the English tongue Pennulton".
1314 Battle of Kinneil
Muir. Sir Gilbert Hamilton, Royal Bodyguard to Robert the
Bruce, is recorded as having slain the "Great General of England" at
Kinneil Muir. For this he was presented the Barony of Kinneil. This
version conflicts slightly with the recorded version that Gilbert's
son Walter was gifted Kinneil Estate by King Robert.
It is recorded
that, in 1323, Walter Hamilton, the son
of Sir Gilbert Hamilton, was gifted Kinneil Estate
by Robert the Bruce, and although Hamilton House was
the family's main seat, their house at Kinneil became
an important residence, conveniently located for Edinburgh
and the Royal Court. Walter fought on the side of the
English at Bannockburn, but changed allegiance after
the capture of Bothwell Castle, for which he was in
charge of the defence, by King Roberts's soldiers. Robert
later knighted him.
family constructed the existing building during the 16th
and 17th centuries prior to which it was a simple Keep
which forms the older part of the house to the north:
they probably had a residence on the site as far back
as the 14th century.
was later leased to various tenants, including John Roebuck,
who was a partner in the Carron Company, and the philosopher
Dugald Stewart, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh
University. Dugald's family were the last residents to
occupy Kinneil House in 1846.
Hamilton gives the funeral oration at the burial of King
Robert the Bruce at Dunfermline Abbey in 1329.
Sir Robert Sibbald as "This Palace of Kinneil",
Kinneil House was originally built as a simple Keep,
which still makes up part of the northern wing of the
building. It was however expanded by Anna, Duchess of
Hamilton, in the seventeenth century to become the mansion
that can be seen today.
In 1651 General
Lilbourne, one of Oliver Cromwell's commanders, requisitions
Kinneil House as his headquarters. His young wife Lady
Libourne commits suicide by throwing herself out of an
attic window into the Gil burn almost 200 feet below. Lady
Libourne is said to still haunt the surrounding area.
In 1661 the
population of the Parish of Kinneil was 559.
was purchased by Bo'ness and Carriden Town Council in
1933 as a commercial enterprise. When Kinneil House was
being demolished by the Town Council traces of mural
paintings on wood panels and plaster were discovered.
Dr Richardson of the Ministry of Works recognised the
importance of these paintings and Kinneil House gained
its reprieve. Panelling already removed was retrieved
from the yard of a Glasgow contractor and thus the rooms
in Kinneil House were restored to their original state
of decoration. The earlier of the two wall paintings,
portraying the work of the Good Samaritan, can be dated
to the time of the Earl of Arran Regent of Scotland or
the mid 1500's. The wood panelled room is dated about
the first half of the 17th Century to the
time of Charles I.
House and "the White Lady"
the execution of King Charles I Oliver Cromwell ordered General
Lilbourne north to police Scotland, thus in 1651 he requisitioned
Kinneil House as his headquarters. When ordered north General Lilbourne
had recently married, reluctant to leave Lady Alice behind he decided
to bring her with him. Alas his marriage
was not a happy one and he frequently quarrelled with his homesick
young bride, who pleaded with him to let her return to England.
To teach Lady Alice a lesson the General ordered that she should be locked
in an attic room on the West Side of the building overlooking the rocky
ravine through which flows the Gil burn. The resourceful Lady Lilbourne
managed to escape wearing only a white night-gown, but was quickly recaptured
and once again imprisoned in the attic. In desperation she flung herself
out of the window to her death on the rocks almost 200 feet below.
Another unsubstantiated local version of this legend is that she tried
to elope with her lover, a young officer who helped her to escape. Unfortunately
they were caught and she was again imprisoned, the officer was not so lucky
and was entombed alive in a hollow tree. It was on hearing this news that
Lady Lilbourne flung herself into the Gil burn.
The story did not end with her untimely death, her ghost, the aptly named "White
Lady" can be seen vainly searching the woods and old mansion house
for her lover.
As recently as 1968 crowds gathered outside Kinneil House because of eerie
noises coming from the empty mansion. Press and TV were present with the
celebrated TV reporter Bill Tennant on the scene only to find that the
culprit was an asthmatic pigeon.