View of south frontage from west, probably
Originally erected in 1696 as the residence
of David Crawford, Secretary to Duchess Anne
(1632-1716) this handsome and substantial house was sited near
the foot of the 'Hietoun' close to the precincts of Hamilton Palace.
It was built to the designs of the architect, James Smith (c.1645-1731)
who was then working for the duchess on 'The Great Design' for the
This oblique view shows the building as it was,
probably in the 1950s, prior to its purchase in 1964 by Hamilton
Burgh Council and its subsequent conversion to a museum. It is surrounded
by smaller ancillary structures, and its masonry, now rendered and
painted, is here exposed, showing clearly the differences in masonry
treatment between different portions of the main block and of the
west wing (left). Also clearly visible are the block sundials tucked
into the upper front angles of the building, and the sprocketing
(splayed reinforcement) of the roof at the eaves which creates a
bell-cast profile typical of buildings of this period.
Purchased by the 8th Duke
of Hamilton (1756-99) in 1784, when an assembly room with a
musicians' gallery was added at the rear, the Crawford residence
became 'The Hamilton Arms', a busy social centre and coaching inn
on the London-Glasgow route patronised by a succession of distinguished
visitors, including Samuel Coleridge and William and Dorothy Wordsworth.
The changing pattern of urban development reduced the area to a
quiet backwater, and from 1835 the building became the office for
the duke's chamberlain, continuing to serve as the Hamilton Palace
Estates Office until 1964.