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Temple on Kenmuir Hill, by Castle Semple

A Category B Listed Building in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.8099 / 55°48'35"N

Longitude: -4.5782 / 4°34'41"W

OS Eastings: 238527

OS Northings: 660413

OS Grid: NS385604

Mapcode National: GBR 3C.6Y2H

Mapcode Global: WH3P9.N73C

Entry Name: Temple on Kenmuir Hill, by Castle Semple

Location: Kilbarchan

County: Renfrewshire

Parish: Kilbarchan

Locality: Johnstone North, Kilbarchan & Lochwinnoch

Traditional County: Renfrewshire

Listing Date: 10 June 1971

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Building Class: Cultural

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB12739

Source ID: 345637

Description

Circa 1776. 2-storey, roofless, octagonal Classical look-out tower, prominently situated at summit of Kenmuir Hill. Coursed, stugged and pinned stone with polished ashlar margins. Raised base course, band courses, cornice; raised margins. Rectangular, blocked window openings to ground with entrance door to S. Sloping cornice to entrance door. Key-stoned, around-arched window openings to each face, with taller opening above entrance door. Single wallhead stack.

INTERIOR (seen, 2011). Rubble. Fireplace opening to upper storey wall.

Statement of Interest

This roofless temple structure is a significant and highly prominent structure in the local landscape. It is finely detailed and looks out over the former Castle Semple Estate and surrounding landscape. Now roofless, the round-arched window openings are distinctive features and add to the Classical design of the structure.

The building is depicted on the 1785 Map of the Estate as being surrounded by trees with a number of radiating paths leading to it, which suggests that it was conceived as a landscape feature with fine views over the estate and surrounding countryside. It is possible that a deer park was established at Kenmuir Hill and the animals could be viewed from this look-out. Classical features in designed landscapes were popular in the 18th century estates, particularly, as here, when combined with aligned vistas. A smaller look-out structure was placed on Parkhill to the North West of this and it is likely that one could be viewed from the other.

Castle Semple Estate has a long history, originally associated with the Semple family who built the first Castle Semple and the collegiate church (scheduled monument, 2011) around 1504. In 1727, the Semples sold the estate to a sugar plantation owner, William McDowell. McDowell began a range of land improvements to the estate, which form the basis of the current estate, including building a new Castle Semple House and landscaping the grounds. The 2nd William MacDowell continued the improvements to the estate in the latter half of the 18th century, including erecting the Temple at the deer park in Kenmuir Hill. The Estate was sold in 1814 to a Major John Harvey who continued to improve the landscape. The family finances declined during the course of the 19th century and the estate was sold in 1908. After this, the house was converted to apartments and the land broken up into small holdings. The House was damaged by fire in 1924 and the central portion of it demolished in the 1960s. The central section of the estate is currently a Regional Park.

List description updated, 2012.

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