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Eaglesham Village, East Renfrewshire. - geograph.org.uk - 428062.jpg
Grid reference: NS573519
Location: 55°44’22"N, 4°16’24"W
Population: 3,127  (2001)
Post town: Glasgow
Postcode: G76
Dialling code: 01355
Local Government
Council: Renfrewshire
East Renfrewshire

Eaglesham is a village in Renfrewshire, a place with a population of 3,127 at the 2001 census, about ten miles south of Glasgow to the southeast of Newton Mearns, south of Busby and Clarkston, and southwest of East Kilbride. It is an accessible, rural village within half an hour's drive from Glasgow City Centre.

The village is distinctively built around a large triangular green.

This was anciently the seat of the Earls of Eglinton, who created the village as it is today. In the 17th century Eaglesham was a small market town. Today's village is an early example of a planned village. It was founded in 1769 by Alexander Montgomerie, 10th Earl of Eglinton. In its day the village was busy with handloom weaving and a cotton-mill. Many of its buildings are grade 'B' or 'C' listed but, as a whole, the village is 'A' listed.

Eaglesham was designated an outstanding conservation area in 1960.


There have been several suggestions as to the meaning of Eaglesham. One theory is that the whole name is Old English, from Ecgwulfes ham, meaning "Edgewulf's homestead"

Another explanation is that says that Eaglesham was a kirkton or church village and named Egwys (Old Welsh) or perhaps eaglais (Gaelic) each meaning 'church', to which the Old English ham has been attached: the latter explanation has been popularised by the churches of the village.


The Middle Ages

The parish of Egglisham formed part of the district of Mearns,[1] and together with other lands were bestowed to Walter FitzAlan, the first High Steward of Scotland and founder of the House of Stuart, by King David. It is possible that Walter granted Eaglesham to Robert de Montgomerie, who was likely the ancestor of the Montgomeries of Eaglesham.[2]

Situated in the Orry, is the motte or Motte Hill, a flat-topped mound likely to be a site of the first wooden castle of the Montgomeries in the 12th century.

Castle Hill, or Deil's Wood Cairn

In 1361, Sir John de Montgomerie of Eaglesham and Eastwood married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Hugh de Eglinton of that Ilk and niece of King Robert II. Sir John obtained the baronies of Eglinton and Ardrossan upon Sir Hugh's death in 1374. Afterwards the Montgomeries made Eglinton Estate their chief residence. In 1388, Sir John de Montgomerie captured Henry, Lord Percy at the Battle of Otterburn. It is traditionally believed that Sir John accepted a ransom for his prisoner who killed the 2nd Earl of Douglas and built Polnoon Castle[3][1] on a small hillock on what appears to be an earlier motte. Polnoon castle was refurbished for occupation in 1617 but was ruined by 1676.

17th century

Following a period of unaccustomed peace and relative stability in Scotland during the reign of King James VI, the direction of the Reformation caused an outbreak of rebellion. Alexander, 6th Earl of Eglinton was one of many who signed the Solemn League and Covenant, opposing an attempt by King Charles I and Archbishop Laud to impose a new prayer book on the Scottish Church, and the population of Renfrewshire was predominantly in favour of the Covenant. A memorial[4] to Covenanters Robert Lockhart and Gabriel Thomson who were shot by Highlandmen and Dragoons for their adherence to the Solemn League and Covenant as they returned from a conventicle in May 1685, stands in the kirkyard of Eaglesham Parish Church.

Alexander, 8th Earl of Eglinton obtained an Act of Parliament in 1672 for an annual fair and weekly market[1] in the "toun of Eagleshame".[5] By the time the New Statistical Account for Scotland[1] was published in 1845 the weekly market had long been discontinued and a flower show was held in place of fairs. The fair was revived in 1961 and in recent years is held every two years in May or in June and traditionally opens with a procession parading through the village.

18th and 19th centuries

Ruins of the Orry cotton mill

In 1769 Alexander, 10th Earl of Eglinton, began the work of developing Eaglesham into a planned village. However it was his successor, Archibald, 11th Earl of Eglinton, who largely saw Alexander's plans through to completion. The Earl planned his new village[3] with two ranges of houses built around the Orry, an area of common land, interspersed with trees and divided in the centre by the Eaglesham Burn. Tacks were offered on 900 year leases on condition that a house be built on a tack within five years. Tenants were allowed to use the Linn Burn for washing and the green for bleaching. As a result of agricultural improvements, displaced workers became tradesmen or weavers in the village.

Eaglesham flourished during the age of agricultural and industrial improvements.[6] Surgeons, shopkeepers and traders such as coopers; grocers; wrights; smiths; boot and shoe-makers; tailors and dressmakers, inn-keepers and vintners supplied the needs and demands of the increasing population. Churches met the religious needs of the inhabitants. Schools provided education and carriers transported goods to and from the markets at Glasgow and Paisley.

Handloom weaving became the main industry until the establishment of a water powered cotton spinning mill[1] in the village in 1791. The Orry mill at its peak employed around 200 people with the machinery at one time driven by a 45-foot diameter cast iron water wheel. The mill burned down and was rebuilt several times before being destroyed by fire in 1876 and was never rebuilt. Without work many of the mill workers drifted away and their homes lay empty. The population of the village dropped from 2,428 in the mid-19th century to 1,075 at the end of the century.

After seven centuries of ownership, the Montgomerie family's finances foundered and Eaglesham Estate was put on the market in 1835. The Estate was finally sold for £217,000 in 1844 to Allan Gilmour, Sr and James Gilmour. Shortly afterwards the estate was divided into two parts roughly by value, in proportion to the money each contributed. The larger part was Eaglesham Estate which was run by Allan and the smaller, Polnoon Estate, run by James.

20th century

By the early 20th century, The Eaglesham Estates were heavily burdened and together with the considerable debts left by Allan Gilmour were advertised for sale in the late 1920s. Angus Gilmour transferred the common area of the village of Eaglesham in 1929 to the parish council at his death. By the late 1930s many of the houses were in a state of disrepair. A letter-writing campaign was started and by the 1950s a world-wide appeal was launched for funds towards Eaglesham’s conservation. Such was the success of the campaign, that the village was designated an outstanding conservation area in 1960.

The wreckage of Rudolf Hess' aircraft on Bonnyton Moor, 1941

A remarkable event during Second World War was the landing of Rudolf Hess at Eaglesham on 10 May 1941. Shortly after 11 pm a Messerschmitt Bf 110 aircraft crashed at Bonnyton Farm with an airman bailing out and landing at Floors Farm. David McLean, a local ploughman, ran out of his cottage at the rear of Floors Farm after hearing an aeroplane crashing and saw a parachutist coming down. McLean assisted the slightly injured airman back to his cottage. The airman, a German officer, identified himself as Haupmann Albert Horn, with a message for the Duke of Hamilton. Horn was arrested and subsequently taken to the 3 Battalion Home Guard Headquarters at Busby then briefly Giffnock Police Station before being transferred to Maryhill Barracks. On the Duke's arrival, Horn revealed himself to be Deputy Reichsführer, Rudolph Hess and that he had flown to Britain with a message for the Duke of Hamilton in an attempt to persuade the British government to restore peace but in poor light mistook his intended destination of Dungavel House near Strathaven as Eaglesham House. Hess was imprisoned in the Tower of London (its last ever prisoner) until taken after the war to be tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg. He spent the rest of his life imprisoned in Spandau Prison, Berlin.


At 2.30 pm on Thursday 23 August 2012, an explosion during planned groundworks at the Mactaggart & Mickel Polnoon 'Eco town' development at Bonnyton Drive sent debris and rubble flying in a radius of about a quarter of a mile from the site, and damaged several houses and cars. No fatalities were reported. No locals had been alerted in advance by site owners Mactaggart & Mickel that drilling and blasting groundworks would be carried out.[7]

The village today

Eaglesham in the snow

Eaglesham Heritage Trail opened on 3 September 2011, a project of Eaglesham & Waterfoot Community Development Trust. The trail consists of ten interpretation panels located throughout the village, explaining the history of the area from the 11th century to the present day. The trail was opened by the Earl and Countess of Eglinton and Winton. The Earl is a descendant of Alexander Montgomerie, the founder of the planned village.

The village today is served by a primary school, churches and library and a number of local services such as garages, shops, gallery, restaurant and tearooms, B&Bs and the historic Eglinton Arms Hotel and Swan Inn. Linn Products operate a state-of-the-art Hi-Fi production plant on the site of the former Eaglesham House.[8]


Eaglesham Parish Church

Eaglesham Parish Church

The present church was designed by Robert McLachlane and completed in 1790. The church was originally a small octagonal building and later extended. A memorial to Covenanters Robert Lockhart and Gabriel Thomson who were shot by Highlandmen and Dragoons under the command of Archibald MacAulay, laird of Ardincaple for their adherence to the Solemn League and Covenant as they returned from a coventicle on 1 May 1685, stands in the kirkyard.

St Bridget's Church

St Bridget's was built in 1858 to make a local place of worship for Roman Catholics who had come to settle in the village, many fleeing the Irish potato famine. The church has a huge canvas of the Deposition of Christ from the Cross by de Surne.

Fingerpost in Eaglesham

Big Society

Clubs and societies include:

Polnoon Lodge, Gilmour Street

Sights about the village

Polnoon Lodge

Polnoon Lodge, a prominent building in Gilmour Street, was originally built as a hunting lodge in the early 18th century by Alexander, ninth Earl of Eglinton after Polnoon Castle was abandoned. The original house was built in 1733, the present B-Listed house however dates to the later 18th century.

Following the sale of the Eaglesham Estate in 1844 to Allan and James Gilmour, the lodge was used as the Polnoon Estate office for a short period of time before being let. By the 1920s the lodge operated as a temperance hotel and later on as a boarding house. An annexe was used as a meeting room for local groups and societies.

The lodge lay empty by the 1960s and was renovated by Renfrew County Council as housing for the elderly. The restoration work won a Civic Trust Award in 1971. One of the houses in Cheapside Street is a miniature of the lodge and was once occupied by the Eaglesham Estate factor.

The Orry

Ancient remains

A motte beside the Linn Burn in the Orry is likely to have been site of the first wooden castle of the Montgomeries in the 12th century and recorded as being in Eaglesham before the construction of Polnoon Castle nearby.

Moot or Motte Hill was a flat-topped mound with a probable broad defensive ditch situated on the north-west bank of the Linn Burn. The south-east side was truncated in the late 18th century by the building of the Orry Mill, resulting in the removal of at least a third of the site.[9] It was used by the local community as a site for meetings and festivals.[10]

The Deil's Wood cairn[11] stands on the summit of a low but prominent ridge 400 yards east of Bonnyton farmsteading.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Eaglesham)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Colville, William (1834–1854). New Statistical Account of Scotland, Parish of Eaglesham. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons. p. 391. 
  2. G. W. S. Barrow (1973), The Kingdom of the Scots: Government, Church and Society from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Century, St. Martin's Press, p. 344 .
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dobin, Alexander (1791–1799). The Statistical Account of Scotland, No. XI Parish of Eaglesham (County of Renfrew). Edinburgh: M. Creech. pp. 120–121. 
  4. The Reformed Presbyterian Magazine: 354–360. October 1864. 
  5. Brown, Christina Robertson (1966). Rural Eaglesham. Glasgow. 
  6. Pigot & Co., J. (1837). National Commercial Directory of the whole of Scotland and of The Isle of Man. London: J. Pigot & Co.. p. 697. 
  7. BBC News: 'Eaglesham explosion causes damage to homes and cars'
  8. CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Eaglesham
  9. Mallard, Kenneth. "Geograph Britain and Ireland". Eaglesham - The story of an 18th century planned village. http://www.geograph.org.uk/article/Eaglesham-The-Story-of-a-Planned-Village. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  10. CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Moat or Motte Hill
  11. "Deil's Wood". ScotlandsPlaces. http://www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/search_item/index.php?service=RCAHMS&id=43921&refer=L3NlYXJjaC9pbmRleC5waHA%2FJnBfbmFtZT1FQVNUV09PRCZwX3R5cGU9RElTVFJJQ1QmY2FjaGVfbmFtZT0xMTFkaXN0cmljdGVhc3R3b29kMTkxcmVuZnJld3NoaXJlJnBfY291bnR5MT1SZW5mcmV3c2hpcmUmcGVyX3BhZ2U9NTAmaWRbXT0xOTEmcF9maWx0ZXI9ZGVpbCUyN3Mrd29vZA%3D%3D. Retrieved 22 March 2011.