Lost Graveyards – Stuarts of Torrance Tomb House

Torrance House, located about two miles south of East Kilbride, was built around 1605 by Robert Hamilton. His son James inherited the property and the lands associated with it and sold it to James Stuart of Castlemilk in 1650. This family therefore became owners of substantial estates to the south of Glasgow. The property itself was modified over the years and is now a private house set in the Calderglen Country Park in East Kilbride.

During this period the family built a mausoleum in the grounds of the East Kilbride Parish Church. This became the burial place for the family until 1801 when Andrew Stuart was the last to be buried there.

Stuarts of Torrance Tomb in East Kilbride Old Churchyard
[Image courtesy Chris Ladds for EK & DH Archives]

At the end of the second world war, when it was decided to move the bodies, (see below) an exercise was carried out to determine who was actually buried there. At the time the evidence uncovered showed that only six people were buried in the mausoleum and their names are shown on an inscribed tablet on the floor.

Tablet in tomb house
[Image courtesy Chris Ladds for EK & DH Archive]

It is possible that others were interred there but further research of the surviving estate papers would be required to establish this. The East Kilbride & District Historical Archive (https://www.facebook.com/EKHistory/ ) and the National Library for Scotland have these papers.

The Stuart line died out with the death of Andrew Stuart in 1801 and the land passed to the Harrington family through the marriage of Andrew’s daughter Charlotte. The Harringtons decided to create a memorial garden in the grounds of what is today the MacDonald Crutherland House Hotel, just outside East Kilbride. There are no records of anyone being buried there but a number of memorial stones were erected to commemorate various members of the family. The Calderglen and Calderwood History Society has a detailed account of this on its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/calderglenhistory/posts/burial-ground-of-the-later-stuarts-of-torrance-situated-a-short-way-east-of-cruth/715664698617605. The site is shown on the OS map https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/55.74154,-4.14342,18

Concrete slab over memorial plot at Crutherland
[Image courtesy Chris Ladds for EK & DH Archive]

At the end of the second world war, the estate was compulsorily purchased to build East Kilbride New Town. The then owner of Torrance House, Madame Helen Stuart-Stevenson, Baroness of Kilbride, decided, due to the vandalism of the mausoleum in the churchyard, to move all the bodies and re-inter them in the memorial garden in the grounds of Crutherland House, to flatten the memorial stones and to lay a concrete raft over everything. This was done in 1949 and the area is now very overgrown and impossible to locate. The above photo was taken a number of years ago.

Tom Mitchell

Member No. 5454

[The image featured at the beginning of the article shows the Harrington Memorial Garden, Crutherland and is published courtesy of Chris Ladds on behalf of East Kilbride and District Historical Archive]

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