Doors Open Days is Scotland’s largest free festival that celebrates heritage and the built environment. It offers free access to over a thousand venues across the country throughout September, every year.
The aim of Doors Open Days is to ensure that Scotland’s built heritage, new and old, is made accessible to people living and visiting the country on weekends in September.
It is coordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust and is part of European Heritage Days along side Scottish Archaeology Month, coordinated by Archaeology Scotland (formerly known as the Council for Scottish Archaeology). Both are supported by Historic Environment Scotland.
Information about the national programme, including event listings, can be found at www.doorsopendays.org.uk.
2019 Programme Highlights:
Callendar House Archives
In the west wing of Callendar House lies the Searchroom for Falkirk Archives, containing collections relating to the Falkirk area and its people.
It is located in the oldest part of the house. When the Forbes family was in residence it was used as a library whilst the adjacent archival storage area was a ladies’ parlour. The current design of the library dates from 1830 and was created by David Hamilton, who also designed the Steeple and Larbert Church. It has original oak panelled walls with an elegant barrel-vaulted ceiling. The wood is said to be from the family estates in the south of Scotland. A large mirror at one end reflects the repeated rectangular shapes of the bronze screens and coffering of the ceiling, thereby exaggerating the length of the narrow room. The room is north facing which helps to keep the contents cool, both in Forbes’ time and ours, as well as contributing to the visual mood of the room.
This special weekend opening of Falkirk Archives also opens up a lesser known aspect of archival collecting - displaying material one might not expect to find in an archive such as sound and film recordings. This was highlighted by a recent BBC documentary on the BA Cowboys!
Callendar House is open free throughout the year and has permanent displays of Roman material, as well as a large late 18th century kitchen and beautiful grounds.
Courtesy of Falkirk Community Trust.
Set within a carefully designed park landscape Kinneil House or Palace was built for James Hamilton the second Earl of Arran when he was the Protector and Governor of Scotland from 1542 to 1554 during the minority of Mary, Queen of Scots. For a few short years it was the seat of Scottish government.
It still houses the best 16th and 17th century murals in Scotland. The bed chamber is now known as the Arbour room 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 and grounds as they appear today. By the late 18th century the house was being let. Inventor, industrialist and part-founder of Carron Company Dr John Roebuck lived here 1764-94. Dugald Stewart the philosopher was the last tenant 1809-1828.
The grounds are also the setting for events connected with Roman Week, which runs in September. The Antonine Wall runs close to the House and the remains of a Roman fortlet can be seen. There is also a 12th century church. Kinneil Museum, located in the old coachhouse, is open from 12.00-4.00pm.
Nearby is the workshop in which James Watt experimented on the separate condenser in 1768 and this will feature in the guided tours.
St Andrew's West Church:
This tall red sandstone building with its 130ft tall spire dominates Newmarket Street. The use of red-snecked rubble makes it stand out from the neighbouring buildings. Above the entrance is a fine Burning Bush sculpture. The foundation stone for Falkirk Free Church was laid on 15th September 1894, and in January 1896 it opened at a total cost of £8,100. It was designed by James Strang in the mid-pointed Gothic style.
The inside was refurbished last year and is now bright and clean. Colourful stained glass in a variety of styles fills the ground floor windows. It includes the figure of St Modan – the patron saint of the town – and the town’s coat of arms and motto, ”BETTER MEDDLE WI THE DEIL THAN THE BAIRNS O FALKIRK”. These are also to be found on the Burgh Buildings. On the window the lion has changed colour to yellow!
The congregation’s war memorial is on the organ casing, and the roll of honour is in the main stair.
While we take every opportunity to ensure the details for Doors Open Days Falkirk are accurate, we always advise that you contact the event organiser before setting out for the event to avoid disapointment.
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