Ballagan House

The Strathblane Valley has a long history and Ballagan estate has been part of it since early times. When the Romans occupied the valley it was the province of the Cymry, a Celtic tribe, and the Levenax, the name becoming altered to Lennox. Many battles were fought as other tribes tried to take over the territory. A bronze sword found at Ballagan was in use sometime between 950 and 750BC. In 1861 during cutting for the railway behind the fields opposite Ballagan estate a huge mound of human and horse bones was uncovered – believed to be the site of the last battle of the Cymric race. The great stones in the field between Ballagan and Broadgate are believed to mark the graves of Cymric heroes from these wars.

In 1174 King William the Lion created a new earldom of Lennox. A castle belonging to the Earl of Lennox stood at Ballagan in the 12th century just north of the present walled garden. The stones from the old castle were used by a later generation to build the walls of the garden, mid-19th century. A magnificent yew tree which stood beside the old castle was said to be the last memorial to the old lairds of Ballagan. It was used to house their coaches under its spreading branches.

The Kirklands of Strathblane were conferred on William Stirling of Glorat by the Earl of Lennox in gratitude for his assistance in battle. William conveyed the Wester half of Ballagan with Hill of Dunglass to his brother Walter, who became the first Stirling laird of Ballagan in 1522. The Easter lands were joined to the estate in 1657. Nine generations of Stirlings succeeded to Ballagan until, having suffered by supporting the Jacobite cause, the estate became burdened with debt and was sold in 1756.

Thomas Graham, Merchant of Glasgow, was the first Graham laird of Ballagan. The original house of the Grahams, built around 1760, forms the back part of the present house. The date stone on the west gable, 1648, would have been taken from an older house on the west side of the Laggan burn. Four generations of Grahams succeeded to Ballagan, the last in line being Miss Janet Gloriana Graham who died in 1891. Her nearest relative and heir lived in Australia. He sold the estate, thus ending the Graham connection with Ballagan. John Stephens, West India merchant, was the next owner. After only six years the estate changed hands again.

In 1896 the estate was bought by William Blackburn Craig, retired drysalter. He it was who enlarged Ballagan House, building the Italianate entrance tower and adding principal rooms to the front of the existing mansion. He, his wife and family of three daughters and two sons lived here until his death when, in 1918, the estate was bought by Colonel Peter Charles Macfarlane, shipowner, Glasgow. His family lived at Ballagan for fifty-one years until he died in 1969.

A developer bought Ballagan estate in 1973. Ground was sold off and Ballagan House again extended and divided into five flats. The tennis court was added at this time. The Stables, Barn, Gardeners Cottage and Lodge were sold separately. All have been extensively enlarged and improved over the years, as have the gardens. The splendid yew tree in the walled garden has been growing there for three to four hundred years and is still thriving. Ballagan retains its atmosphere of peace and tranquillity, enjoyed by all who live there.

©Norma Farquhar 28 May 2005