NS3979 : Mausoleum of the Dennistoun Browns of Balloch Castle

taken 6 years ago, near to Bonhill, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Mausoleum of the Dennistoun Browns of Balloch Castle
Mausoleum of the Dennistoun Browns of Balloch Castle
For context, see NS3979 : Bonhill Kirkyard: southern boundary wall. With respect to the present view, NS3979 : The parish ministers' vault is just out of shot to the left, and the standing structure on the right is the NS3979 : Mausoleum of Buchanan of Ardoch.

This enclosure with iron railings contains memorials to the Dennistoun Browns of NS3983 : Balloch Castle. Some of the fragments of paler stone inside are perhaps remnants of the two white marble Ionic (that is, Ionian or "Celtic") crosses that stood within this enclosure at the end of the nineteenth century.

A tablet can be seen on the back wall, next to the place of junction with the Buchanan of Ardoch Mausoleum. The inscription is as follows:

"To the memory of Margaret Lindsay (relict of Andrew Swan) who died at Balloch Castle [6th?] October 1879 aged 73. For more than 20 years a faithful and attached nurse in the family of A J Dennistoun Brown, by whom this tablet is erected.
'I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.'"

NS3983 : Balloch Castle itself (just a castellated country house rather than a castle) had been erected by John Buchanan of Ardoch (whose family is commemorated by the adjacent NS3979 : Mausoleum of Buchanan of Ardoch), to the designs of John Lugar. In about the 1840s, it came into the hands of A J (Alexander James) Dennistoun Brown, who died in 1890. He was the great-grandson of John Brown, Provost of Glasgow, by Jean, second daughter of John Dennistoun of Colgrain (on the Dennistouns of Colgrain, see NS3181 : Dennistoun Crescent).

The lands were later sold by his trustees to the Glasgow Corporation, who used part of them to create what is now Balloch Castle Country Park.

Before this became the Dennistoun Brown vault, it was the site of the Old Ash Tree (a fact that is worth mentioning, since none of the local histories are specific about where the tree was located in the kirkyard). This tree was measured in 1768, and was found to have a circumference of 16 feet 9 inches at a height of five feet above the ground. When measured again in 1784, it was found to have a circumference of 17 feet 9 inches at the same height, and of 33 feet measured at just one foot above the ground. At a height of about 6 feet, it divided into three main branches. However, it was becoming hollow inside, and supports were placed on it to prevent its collapsing under its own weight. It was eventually levelled by strong winds on the 1st of November 1845, but its wood was put to use: various items of furniture were made from it, some of them for the parish church.

Despite its size, this was not the largest ash tree in the area. That honour went to one at Place of Bonhill, which was the mansion house of the Smolletts and then of the Turnbulls: see NS3979 : Mausoleum of the Turnbulls of Place of Bonhill and NS3879 : Place of Bonhill (that name presently refers to a road, but the house, now gone, was located nearby).

The Old Ash Tree at Place of Bonhill had a circumference of 34 feet 1 inch, as measured at about 4 feet above the ground. The tree latterly become hollow, and it had an opening on one side. That opening was expanded to create an entire room, with a diameter of 9 feet 1 inch, within the trunk. It was 11 feet high, with a conical roof, and was floored. Around that floor was a hexagonal bench, and there was a table in the middle of the room. Even so, the tree showed signs of vigour. What eventually finished it off was an attempt by some local boys to get rid of a wasps' nest that had appeared within it; sadly, by their botched efforts, they set the tree itself on fire.
Bonhill Parish Church
The existing church was built in 1835-36, replacing one built in 1747. See LinkExternal link and LinkExternal link at WoSAS for further details. An article LinkExternal link (PDF; 1 MB) by William Scobie provides historical background details, and much more information.
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NS3979, 190 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Sunday, 7 July, 2013   (more nearby)
Monday, 22 July, 2013
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3947 7956 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:58.9252N 4:34.4736W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3947 7957
View Direction
SOUTH (about 180 degrees)
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