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  • David Leavitt

History from Jane Templeton Young & Sir Stephen Templeton Young

Knockderry Castle, date still to be determined.

Very soon after we published this blog, Jane Templeton Young reached out us. Jane is the great, great, granddaughter of John Templeton. Jane provided me with several photos, two of which are in this post. The first is a stunning photograph of Knockderry Castle an earlier day. The second is a wedding photo, which is explained below.

Jane put us in touch with her cousin Sir Stephen Templeton Young, 3rd Baronet. Sir Stephen was kind enough to provide the following history:

"It is not correct that the castle was built by James Templeton (who founded the Templeton carpet manufacturing business in Glasgow). He never owned it. His country house was across the water at Dunoon. I don't know when the original castle as you see it today was built, or by whom. It was bought by JT's oldest son John Stewart Templeton (Jane's and my great great grandfather) in 1883. He then had it extended in 1896. You will see JST's initials above the door at the east end of the castle. The architect was William Leiper who was a very well-known architect in Scotland in those days. He also designed the Templeton carpet factory on Glasgow Green which is modelled on the Doges Palace in Venice and was built when JST was the senior partner of the business.

JST had the castle until his death in 1918. He bequeathed it to his younger daughter Marie who married William Sloan (who was a member of a well-known Glasgow ship owning family). As far as I know, they lived at Knockderry with their two sons until the outbreak of World War II when it was requisitioned and became a military hospital. I think I am right in saying that it was used to care for injured French officers. I am not sure of the exact sequence of events after the war, but I know it became a hotel for some years and then was sold into private hands in about 1981.

I have had a look at JST's memoirs which I have been transcribing intermittently in recent years. Below is an excerpt which describes how Andrew Carnegie when a guest at Knockderry came to make a donation for the construction of some libraries in Glasgow, There are I think plenty of other libraries in Scotland which were built with money donated by Carnegie, but the link with Knockderry applies only to the Glasgow libraries to which JST refers in his account."

John Stewart Templeton and Andrew Carnigie at Knockderry Castle

Excerpt from JST’s memoirs:

“In April 1901 I received a letter from Mr. Carnegie dated from Aix-les-Bains in which he expressed a wish to see me in London on a matter of some importance. I replied that I was going there on my usual business and would call on him at the Langham Hotel where he said he would be lodging. He desired to know if the Glasgow Municipality had adopted the Libraries Act. I was able to inform him that it had done so quite recently and that I had taken a small share in securing this result in so far that I had been one of the three gentlemen of a deputation who had addressed the City Council in its favour. Parenthetically I may mention that the other two were Principal Story and Professor Jones, both of the University, and that my short speech took the line of urging that the planting of district reading rooms would be a counter attraction to the public house and a safe resort for young men and women who were often “lodgers” living away from their own homes. He then told me that he purposed to offer the people of Glasgow a large sum, it might be, he said, as much as £200,000, in order to provide a sufficient number of free libraries, but that, not knowing our Lord Provost or other prominent citizen, he wished me to arrange a meeting of a few gentlemen to whom he would submit the matter. All this was duly done. The Provost Sir Samuel Chisholm Bart invited about twenty of his friends to meet Mr. Carnegie at a private lunch in the City Chambers. The informal speeches on the occasion were all in good taste and chiefly notable by what Mr. Carnegie himself told us of his first visit to Glasgow, when exactly fifty two years previously he sailed from the Broomielaw in the bark “Wisconsett”, 900 tons, with his father, mother and younger brother as emigrants to New York with no more money in their possession than would suffice on their arrival for one week’s lodging and food. That evening Mr. Carnegie on finding that twelve libraries each costing about £8,000 would meet the wants of the community wrote out when he was with me here in Cove an order on his bankers for £100,000 to be drawn upon as the buildings were erected and equipped”.

Sir Stephen continues: "The wedding photograph which Jane has sent you is of the wedding at Knockderry in 1888 of JST's older daughter Elspeth Alice to Daniel H L Young (Jane's and my great grandparents). DHLY is on the bride's immediate left. JST is the tall gentleman fourth from the left in the front row.

(As an aside, I am fairly sure that the young man immediately to the left and behind DHLY is his younger brother Arthur who emigrated to the US and founded the well-known firm of accountants, Arthur Young & Co, now re-incarnated as Ernst and Young).

We're so grateful for Jane and Sir Stephen for reaching out to us and providing this fascinating and important piece of history! Thank you!!

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1 comentário

Barbara Wilke
Barbara Wilke
30 de out. de 2023

Hello from Kelowna, British Columbia. I am very interested in your castle and the work you are doing on it. The one thing I really like about your posts is no matter how bad something has aged or how long it takes to fix something you don't complain although I am sure some issues can feel overwhelming! Love seeing secret passageways and where they end.

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