The House or Palace of Kinneil was built as the seaside residence of James Hamilton the second Earl of Arran. Here it benefited from being close to Linlithgow Palace as well as Edinburgh. Arran was the Protector and Governor of Scotland from 1542 to 1554 during the minority of Mary, Queen of Scots, and it was then that he started work on the House.
There were two main elements to the work – defensive features such as an unusually tall tower house, gun ports and outworks; and comfortable living quarters reflecting the latest in luxury, including panelled ceilings and painted walls. The first floor of the palace wing contained the principal rooms such as an audience room, bedchamber, withdrawing chamber, and possibly a chapel. The bed chamber is now known as the “Arbour Room” from the recess for the bed, and the painting is full of foliage, scrolls and animals. This was later painted over in imitation of wainscoting, and a coffered ceiling containing the 1621 coat of arms of Arran. The withdrawing chamber has a number of biblical scenes on the walls, notably the Good Samaritan.
In 1677 Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, began a programme of renovation, producing the house as it appears today. By the late 18th century the house was being let. Dr John Roebuck lived here 1764-1794 and Dugald Stewart the philosopher was the last tenant 1809-1828.
The House is set in magnificent grounds, now part of a country park, replete with bridges, haw-haws, gate piers and stables.
Building Date: 16th century