Before the Murray Earls of Dunmore built Dunmore Park House, the place was called Elphinstone, after the family that had lived there in the sixteenth century, and the residence was a substantial 57-foot-high tower, alternatively known as the Tower of Elphinstone or Elphinstone Tower.
A curious structure with enormously thick walls, and major rooms on the first, second and third floors, it seems to have been unoccupied after the 3rd Earl of Dunmore bought the Elphinstone property in 1754, until in 1836 the barrel-vaulted ground-floor room was converted into a mausoleum.
In 1840 the two-storey service wing was cleared away to give space for St Andrew’s Church, a modest Gothic building with a bell-turret.
By the time I visited the place in 1982 the Tower had collapsed, and St Andrew’s Church had been completely demolished, leaving free-standing wall monuments surrounded by thin air.
Since then, the Tower has been neglected and vandalised, and the Falkirk Local History Society’s website [http://www.falkirklocalhistorysociety.co.uk/home/index.php?id=126] indicates that it may not survive for many more winters.
The corpses that had been interred in the vault have apparently been removed, but not – so it seems – the coffins, which were left to tempt passing vandals. The 2009 state of the place, and also the ruins of Dunmore Park House, are illustrated at http://urbanglasgow.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=1532&start=0.
It’s not a pretty sight.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Victorian Cemeteries, please click here.