Mar Hall – formerly Erskine Mansion – sits amidst 200 acres of the Earl of Mar Estate. The building was designed in the 19th century by Sir Robert Smirke who had previously worked on the British Museum in London. Smirke was commissioned by Major General Robert Walter Stuart, the 11th Lord Blantyre, whose family had purchased the grounds and estate some one hundred years previously. Lord Blantyre –a military man who served in the army with great distinction during the Egyptian and Peninsular wars throughout the 1810’s, and latterly held the title Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, – ultimately never saw his home after meeting his end during the Brussels revolutionary insurrections of 1830, a mere two years after construction had began.
Building began in 1828, where a quarry on the estate provided the stone whilst the oak used throughout was specifically imported from Canada. It was Smirke’s wish that the building resemble the manorial, domestic gothic styles seen during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First. Construction was not completed until 1845, fifteen years after Lord Blantyre’s death with the final bill coming to over £50,000. (Nearly half a million pounds in today’s money)
The house fell into disrepair over the remainder of the 20th century and it was only in 2004 following a £15million restoration that it was restored to its former glory. 52 lavishly designed bedrooms and suites were designed in addition to retaining as many original features. The rooms proudly sit with breath-taking views over the River Clyde and Old Kilpatrick hills or over our beautiful manicured gardens. May 2010 sees the opening of our new 18hole Earl of Mar Golf Course, designed by David Thomas Jr. and the opening of a new chapter in the Estates proud History.
Mar was one of the seven Pictish Kingdoms, of Ancient Scotland.. Its rulers – originally known as Mormaers, – regional or provincial rulers – became The ‘Earls of Mar’ in 1024, making the title the oldest in Great Britain.
A dispute over the succession of the Earldom in the 19th Century caused a schism in the family line which resulted in two holders of the title, a male as well as a female, only one of many interesting facts in the Earldom’s history.
- John Erskine, the 17th Earl of Mar (died 29 October 1572), was the Regent of Scotland and thereafter guardian of King James VI of Scotland. He was one of the leaders in the nobles’ revolt against Mary Queen of Scots, and in addition was part of the government of Scotland during Mary’s imprisonment at Lochleven castle in the 16th Century.
- John Erskine, the 18th Earl of Mar (c. 1558 – 14 December 1634) was a Scottish Politician who, like his father was charged with the guardianship of the young King James VI and thereafter became governor of Edinburgh Castle.
- John Erskine; the 23rd Earl of Mar (1675 – May 1732) was a Jacobite supporter at the turn of the 18th Century. However his poor and unconvincing leadership at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715, whilst fighting for Scottish Independence some eight years after the Act of Union had been passed rendered him a slightly unpopular figure.