Lockharts

The Lee Castle

 
by Isabelle Lockhart
Updated 19 May 2012.

 

The Lee Castle and its 260 acre estate near Lanark, Scotland was sold in 2003.  The estate had been owned by someone in the Lockhart family for almost 700 years.  The new owner, Addison McElroy Fischer, an American, acquired the barony and became the 35th Baron of Lee.  Since the Lee Castle is now the private residence of the owner, please be considerate of the fact that the castle is not available for ancestral home visitations by the Lockhart family.

“The castle is a private residence.  There are not tours of the castle.”  [Stephen Godden, Estate Manager, The Lee, Scotland, 19 May 2012]

From Lanark, Lanarkshire, Scotland, the A73, travelling NNW, passes near the Castle.

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Simon Foster Macdonald Lockhart (b.1916-d.1991) was a previous owner of The Lee.  He became the inheritable descendant in the line of the Lee.  After inheriting the Lee estate in 1946 and legally changing his name from Simon Foster Moreton Macdonald (a descendant of a Lockhart) to Simon Foster Macdonald Lockhart, Simon and his family lived at the Lee Castle.  Simon Macdonald Lockhart was the author of “Seven Centuries,” in 1976.  [See: Lockharts of Lee]

The Lee

(Photographed by Robert Alexander in 1951)

In December 2001, Mr. Robert H. Alexander kindly allowed us to post a photograph of the Lee Castle he took in 1951. Mr. Alexander says, as if addressing Angus Macdonald Lockhart, “I was a U.S. Naval Aviator in about 1951 and visited your lovely family at the castle [Lee Castle] at the invitation of your father [Symon Macdonald Lockhart]. I recall his natty plaid socks, knickers, shirt, coat, and cap. To my knowledge, all McDonald plaid. He met me at the little railway from Glascow in an English Jeep. I stayed overnight, had roast ruffled grouse under glass, and in general really enjoyed myself. My Grandmother had told me of the lands of Lee when I was about 6 years old in 1934 in Jackson, Mississippi, USA. I am now 74. When my ship, the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, came to Glascow, I took leave and went looking. The County Concil knew your dad, and called him by phone. Amazingly, he answered. After 27 generations of not speaking, I thought that was rather extraordinary. I spent the night, met you [Angus] and your brother, and was given royal treatment. I took some snapshots, sent them to my Grandmother, and you would have thought I sent the moon. She was a poet of sorts, and wrote one for me saying, “She felt a part of me, had finally gone where I longed to be, The Lands of Lee.” I was very sorry to hear some years ago, of the loss of your father. He was a real treasure, and even today, at our family Christmas Tree, I told the rather large group of him, you, and the trip. I guess it is now about 700+ years that we have upheld our Saviour, Jesus Christ. I am most happy for it. Best regards, Robert H. Alexander”

The Lockharts sold the residence in the mid 1900′s, in order to pay the country’s increased taxation.

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Terence Alvis succeeded to the Barony of Lee in 1978, becoming 33rd Baron of Lee, and matriculated his arms in a petition to the court of the Lord Lyon which was granted by Letters Patent on 26 July 1984.  Baron Alvis sold Lee Castle to an American family in 1988, retired, and moved to South Africa.

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Leslie Peters (1935-2002), a Canadian electronics and nursing homes tycoon, bought the Lee Castle and acquired the title of Baron, in 1988.  In the castle, a reception room was styled the “Canam” (Canadian/American) Room, reflecting this Baron’s business interests in both Canada and the United States.  Shortly after his moving in, there was a disastrous fire which destroyed part of the building.  The outbuildings have been converted into houses.

A personal tartan with the name of “Peter of Lee” was designed by Kinloch Anderson for Leslie Peters, who stocked his house with kilts of this tartan so that his visiting American friends could wear his tartan.  [Scottish Tartans Authority]

It is told that this eccentric businessman had arranged for his heart, at his death, to be flown from America in a lead casket to be buried in the family chapel within the Lee Castle.  A plaque on the floor of the chapel, inscribed with the Latin words Numquam Despera (Never Give Up), marks the spot where Leslie Peters’ heart is buried.

Lee Castle Chapel

In March 2002, we received a copy of a lithograph of the Lee Castle from Stephen L. Peter, who had overseen the restoration of the Lee after the fire.

Lithograph of the Lee

Illustrated in 1820 by John Preston Neale (1780-1847)

(Contributed by Stephen L. Peter, who supervised the restoration of the Lee)

In September 2002, Lee Castle was listed, to let or sale, by Guy Galbraith of FPDSavills in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The listing:

“Lee Castle, Lanarkshire–a fully restored historic baronial mansion to let, ideal for corporate use or as a spectacular private residence.

“A truly unusual rental opportunity has become available through the Edinburgh office of FPDSavills. Lee Castle, a spectacular baronial mansion house near Lanark, is being offered for rent, following the death earlier this year of its previous occupant.

“Shortly after his moving in, a disastrous fire destroyed part of the building and much of its contents. Some good came out of the disaster, for the castle was subsequently restored, using traditional materials and craftsmanship. Modern amenities add to the practicality and comfort of the castle’s facilities, without detracting from its character.

“Lee Castle, also known as The Lee, is a property of great historical significance. The original lands of Lee, granted to William Locard about 1272, lay between Lanark and Carluke on the north side of the River Clyde. Originally a southern family, the Locards had been dispossessed by William the Conqueror, later establishing themselves near Penrith in the 12th century. By the 13th century the family held land in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire. Sir Symon Locard (William’s son and 2nd of Lee) built his castle in the valley of the Brocklinn or Mashock Burn, a tiny stream which joins the river Clyde at Crossford a couple of miles away. He accompanied Sir James Douglas (“The Black Douglas”) on his ill-fated journey to the Holy Land to bury the heart of Robert the Bruce in Jerusalem. When Douglas was slain in battle in Andalucia, it fell to Locard to return the casket with Bruce’s heart to Scotland, where it was buried in Melrose Abbey. The family was later honoured for his part in the expedition and the family name became Lockheart, subsequently Lockhart.

“The original Castle of Lee was renovated and extended by Sir Charles James Lockhart in the early part of the 19th century. The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (c. 1898) describes it thus: ‘As renovated … after designs by Gillespie Graham, it is a castellated two storey edifice, with a dozen round corner turrets and a loftier square central tower, whose twelve windows, three on each side, give light to the great Gothic hall that replaces the open quadrangle of the old house. The interior is rich in paintings, tapestry and other heirlooms … whilst the grounds are beautiful with terraces and wooded slopes.’

“Robert the Bruce is reputed to have signed a charter under the branches of The Pease Tree, an ancient oak, still standing in front of the house. If true, the tree is well over 600 years old. Some three centuries later, Oliver Cromwell is said to have dined on the same spot; his niece was the wife of General Sir William Lockhart (d. 1675), a descendant of Sir Symon and Cromwell’s Ambassador to France. There is also an ancient larch, planted by Sir William, who introduced the first larches to Scotland.

“The accommodation is both impressive and comfortable. On the ground floor, a central tower, higher than the rest of the building, houses the Great Hall, lit by Gothic windows. Off this dramatic room are the Drawing Room, a reception room styled the Canam Room, the Library and a Dining Room which seats up to 28 people. A central hall leads to the service areas and to the Gothic Bedroom Suite, with a shower room housed in one of the castle’s twelve turrets. Also at this level are a swimming pool complex with jacuzzi and sauna, and the chapel and prayer room.

“On the first floor are the Ballroom, Games Room with a full size snooker table, further service areas and offices. Within the New Wing, reinstated in 1989 after the fire, are three bedrooms and a living room. Off the Tartan Gallery Corridor is the Bonnie Prince Charlie Conference Room, four evocatively named bedrooms – Rose, Wedgewood, Russian and Mary Queen of Scots – and a Baronial Suite. In all, there are 14 bedrooms, six of which have en suite bathrooms or shower rooms. Staff quarters complete the accommodation.

“The castle stands in extensive grounds. The garden areas to the east and south offer an excellent retreat and include a Japanese Garden, Rockery Garden and the Lady Garden. These areas boast Japanese bridges, pergolas, stretches of lawn, a pond, and well stocked borders.” [http://www.fpdsavills.co.uk, 2002]

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The original lands of Lee, granted to William Locard about 1272, lay between Lanark and Carluke on the north side of the River Clyde. Sir Symon Locard / Lockheart / Lockhart (2nd of Lee in 1300 and knighted by King Robert the Bruce who reigned Scotland 1306-1329) built his castle, referred to as “The Lee,” in the valley of the Brocklinn or Mashock Burn, a tiny stream which joins the river Clyde at Crossford a couple of miles away. [Simon Macdonald Lockhart, "Seven Centuries, The History of the Lockharts of Lee and Carnwath," 1976, Scotland]

A brief description of the house/castle in the Edinburgh, November 1796: ” . . . The house consists of two principle stories inclosing a quadrangular court in the centre, and tho’ built many years ago it possesses more conveniency and elegance than many structures of more recent date. . . ” The house was re-built, designed by James Gillespie Graham for Sir Charles Macdonald Lockhart in about 1817.

An 1830 description of Lee Castle by John M. Leighton: “It is an extensive building, of a square castellated form, having circular embattled turrets at each corner and an embattled parapet at top. From the centre of the building, a large square embattled tower, lighted with twelve very beautiful old English windows, rises above the other parts to a considerable height and adds greatly to the grandeur of the effect. The central portion of the east front rises a little higher than the rest, projects beyond the line of the wall and has thus the appearance of another strongly embattled tower. The principal entrance is in the lower part of this tower and immediately over it there is a square window, ornamented with a deep moulding, which lights the entrance hall. The building is surrounded with a high, broad terrace, without any parapet, covered on the top with gravel and formed into a walk. . . . It stands in an extensive and well wooded valley, near the bottom of the sloping hills, which form its northern boundary. This valley, separated from the Clyde by the ridge of hills forming its southern boundary, stretches away from the east, towards the west, for many miles.”

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