Eglinton Country Park

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Eglinton Country Park is situated on the north side of Irvine in Ayrshire, with castle remains, visitor centre, cafe, kids play and scenic estate walks.

This estate and castle were the private lands of the Montgomerys' from 1300s until the grounds were gifted to the local council in 1976 to be used for leisure facilities.

The image below is of the car park left, and entrance to the park right. There is another car park further to the right should this park be full.

The park is free to visit and open every day early till late. Map.

Eglinton Country Park Parking image

The Image below is of the entrance to Eglinton Park leading to the Visitor Centre.

Eglinton Country Park Entrance image

The image below is of the Visitor Centre in Eglinton Country Park. A popular tearoom is to the left in this image.

Eglinton Visitor Centre image

The image below is from inside the visitor centre, showing it is a walk through centre with images and information on the walls.

The centre gives information on the families that lived at the castle, how they gained their wealth, their titles, and how they ended up unable to cover the costs of maintaining the castle and estate.

Eglinton Visitor Centre Interior image

The image below is of the kids play area about 50 yards from the visitor centre. This is a busy park, free of charge.

Eglinton Kids Play image

The image below is of the area by Eglinton Castle, about 200 yards up from the visitor centre. This is a popular area for families laying around or playing games.

Eglinton Castle Grounds image

The image below is of Eglinton Castle. The Montgomerys' left the castle in 1925, with the building soon falling into a ruinous state. Some reports state the castle was used as target practice for tanks during World War Two.

The castle was made safe in 1973, leaving what can be seen today. The remains and foundations give a good sense of just how large the building was.

Eglinton Castle image

The image below is of Eglinton Castle in 1905. There used to be a folder containing old images of the castle in the visitor centre, not sure if it is still there.

Eglinton Castle Old image

The image below is of another old image of the interior. The interior images show the castle contained a vast amount of furniture and artifacts from the time, little room for anything else.

Eglinton Castle Interior image

The image below is of the Tournament Bridge built in the 1840s, and repaired in the 1930s.

The building in the distance is the old Estate Office and Stables.

Eglinton Tournament Bridge image

The image below is of the Stables and old Estate Office. This building has recently been converted to private living apartments, work is ongoing in 2015, with probably new buildings being erected to the right and rear as well.

There are a number of scenic walks around the park here, and out into the woodlands.

Eglinton Stables image

The Montgomerys' were a powerful Scottish clan with a 1300s castle at Polnoon in the parish of Eaglesham, by Glasgow.

Sir John Montgomery married the heiress of Sir Hugh Eglinton in the late 1300s, leading to him gaining the Barony of Eglinton and Ardrossan, an area just north of Irvine in Ayrshire, with the original Eglinton Castle from the 1300s.

The Montgomerys' were awarded more lands in Ayrshire for their support of Scottish kings, with Skelmorlie Castle completed on that land in 1502, Skelmorlie being situated about 23 miles north of the lands of Eglinton in Ayrshire.

Much of the land in Ayrshire the Montgomerys' were awarded, for their support of Scottish Kings, was from the Cunninghams', leading to a number of murders, on both sides, over the following centuries.

The title Earl of Eglinton was created in 1508 for Hugh Montgomerie, 2nd Lord Montgomerie. Hugh Montgomery was close to the leading nobles and kings of Scotland, playing a part in the many battles for power at the time.

Eglinton Castle became the main seat of the Montogomerys' around that time.

The Earl of Eglintons' mother was Catherine, daughter of the powerful Gilbert, lord Kennedy of Dunure.

In 1488, the Montgomerys' burned the Cunningham's Kerelaw Castle.

William Cunningham, 4th Earl of Glencairn, set fire to the original Eglinton Castle in 1528.

In 1586, the 4th Earl of Eglinton was killed by the Cunninghams' of Glencairn.

The Montgomerys' responded by murdering members of the Cunningham clan.

William Cunningham, 9th Earl of Glencairn, married Margaret Montgomery in the 1660s, daughter of Alexander, 6th Earl of Eglinton, ending the Cunningham-Montgomery feuds.

The Montgomerys' began building the new Castle of Eglinton in 1796, creating one of the top stately homes in Scotland, and packing it full of the finest furniture and artifacts.

The Montgomerys' held the Eglinton Tournament of 1839, a re-enactment of medieval jousting, with many distinguished guests from the UK and Europe attending.

The Montgomerys' also began the Eglinton Hunt in the late 1800s, attracting the richest people from around the country. They were rich, and liked to show it.

Much of these landowners wealth came from renting out many small farms on their vast estates. In the late 1800s, many landowners began selling off many of the farms so they could gain more wealth.

As the vast estates were soon reduced to a small amount of land around the castle or mansion, and the money for the sales had been used, many landowners realized they no longer had enough income from the farms left to maintain their buildings and lifestyle.

The Estate Duty for inheriting land was increased in 1894, also leading to a number of estates being forced to sell off land.

Archibald Seton Montgomerie, 16th Earl of Eglinton, was forced to abandon Eglinton Castle in 1925. He moved to Skelmorlie Castle.

The Montgomerys' were involved in coal mining in the Ayrshire area, and had built Ardrossan Harbour from where to transport coal.

A combination of businesses failing, the cost of building and maintaining Ardrossan Harbour, and having sold off most of their land, seems to have lead to the Montgomerys' no longer having enough income to maintain the castle, and what was left of the estate.

The Wilson's purchased the old offices and stables at Eglinton for a meat canning factory in 1958. That factory closed in the 1980s, the building was converted to accommodation apartments around 2014/2015.

James Wilson also bought Skelmorlie Castle in the 1970s for his family home from the 18th Earl of Eglinton. Wilson sold Skelmorlie Castle in 2007, to someone that wants to remain unknown.

Archibald George Montgomerie, 18th Earl of Eglinton, born on the 27th August 1939, has four sons and is said to now live in Perthshire /Scotland.

Montgomery Clan and Castles

Wiki Page for an In-depth History and more Old Images

Park Website Ayr Home Page