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13 Nov 2018

Pollok House – explore one of the hidden wonders of Scotland

Written by Lauren Miller
Pollok House is where discussions about the foundation of the Trust took place.
Pollok House is where discussions about the foundation of the Trust took place.
Braes High student Lauren Miller continues her tour of Trust properties – this time she pops into Pollok House and blogs about her visit there.

As one of the original and most elegant properties in the National Trust for Scotland’s care, Pollok House gives a great insight into the lives of upper class families throughout many generations. Hidden in the outskirts of Glasgow, Pollok housed the Maxwell family for six centuries leaving a real sense of character inside. This property was also the very place where Sir John Stirling-Maxwell and a group of his peers founded the National Trust for Scotland in 1931 with the aim to protect Scotland’s heritage.

The Cedar Room is the room where the Trust was founded
The Cedar Room is the room where the Trust was founded

The grandeur of the grounds is one of the first things I noticed as I began my visit with a lovely walk through Pollok Park. I passed fields filled with Scotland’s native Highland cows as well as other wildlife. There was a real sense of community; people walking hand in hand, parents fastening bike helmets onto their children’s heads and, for those who are lucky enough, you may see a wedding service taking place within the house. Pollok is perfect for any type of outing, whether that be a pleasant walk through the countryside, a tour of the house in all its glory or even just a bite to eat. The Edwardian Kitchen has been converted into a café and is now home to Pollok’s famous home-baked scones.

I was advised to start my visit on the top floor and work my way down. By using the map I was given, I headed straight up to the Harry Benson CBE exhibition. Harry Benson is a Glaswegian photographer who has photographed many US presidents and captured some of the most well- known world events, such as the assassination of Senator Robert F Kennedy and the schoolyard tear gassing in Mississippi in 1966. I found myself losing track of time, studying the pictures in complete awe. This unique and thought-provoking exhibition is currently available to observe in Pollok House for all members of the public until early 2019.

The map of the house came in handy while navigating the maze of rooms filled with ornaments and Spanish artwork. Pollok House is home to one of the most important collections of Spanish art anywhere in Europe outside of Spain. I found the history of the house to be just as fascinating. Many are not aware that during World War I, the Maxwells moved out and the house became a busy hospital for those in need. 

There is lots of artwork to explore at Pollok House
There is lots of artwork to explore at Pollok House.

One of the most memorable rooms was the library. Look out for the numbers at the top of the shelves that helped to organise the 7,000 books stacked within them. First built in 1752, the house is one of the grandest in the National Trust for Scotland’s protection with its intricately carved furniture and mirrors surrounded with magnificent golden frames. It’s hard to believe that at one time only 3 people lived in the house with 48 members of staff. In the corridor there are three hidden servants’ staircases so the staff could work out of sight of the family. It serves as a perfect visit for those who are inspired by both Georgian architecture and unique art.

The library is one of the most special rooms at Pollok House
The library is one of the most special rooms at Pollok House.

The elegance of the property seems to be popular with nature lovers and dog walkers, thanks to the view overlooking Pollok golf course and the stunning gardens surrounding the house. Pollok has also been used as one of the locations to film scenes for the popular TV show Outlander, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled as you may recognise some of the grounds.

Once my visit was over I wandered into the shop in the servants’ quarters. With all of its stock coming from local suppliers and most of it exclusive to the National Trust for Scotland, there is a little something for everyone –from jars of jam and tartan scarves to handmade ornaments as well as Harry Benson’s book, containing all of his best work.

Pollok House is a perfect trip for Christmas time, especially for families. On Saturday 1 December, Mrs Claus will be visiting to hand out special gifts to kids. As the Year of Young People continues, we must make sure to support the work that goes into protecting Scotland’s heritage and recognise the pride we have in our culture. For just £1, anyone with a Young Scot card can gain entry to any National Trust for Scotland property, so make sure to grab it while you can and explore some of the hidden wonders of Scotland.