Bonnie Prince Charlie's HQ secured in cut-price deal
Plans to turn the Scottish headquarters of Bonnie Prince Charlie into a major new visitor attraction have reached a major milestone after the 17th Century mansion was secured in a community buyout at a knock down price.
Bannockburn House near Stirling has been removed from the market and offered for £800,000 to a community trust set up to preserve the historic property.
The house and 25 acres of ground had originally been for sale for £1.5m.
The Bannockburn House Trust is now forging ahead with its plans to turn the site into both a major new visitor attraction for Stirling and a valuable space for the community where events, including weddings, can be held.
Trustee Iain McMenemy said the deal was a “huge step forward” for those seeking to secure the future of the property with hopes the next fundraising push would be aided by the current “buzz” surrounding the Jacobites.
Bannockburn House became the headquarters for Bonnie Prince Charlie after his long return from Derby in December 1745.
Following a spell in Glasgow, he was invited to stay at Bannockburn by Sir High Paterson, a loyal supporter of the Stuart cause.
The Young Pretender recovered from a fever at the mansion following the Jacobite victory at Falkirk on January 17 1746 and spent time here with his mistress Clementina Wilkinshaw, a niece of Sir Hugh.
He was also to return here briefly after his defeat at Culloden in April that year.
Mr McMenemy said: “There are a lot of places in Scotland that claim to have a link to Bonnie Prince Charlie but there are not many places where you can tread on the same floorboards and walk where he walked.
“There is such a strong connection to him at the house, there is almost an eeriness to it.”
The Bannockburn House Trust is working with the Scottish Land Fund to secure a grant of £600,000 to help buy the building from the owner Peter Drake, who lives in England.
Mr McMenemy said Mr Drake had been “very good” to the trust and had approached the deal with a sense of “community spirit”.
A further £250,000 will be raised through a crowdfunding campaign and other fundraisers, with the trust looking to the Scots diaspora, particularly in the United States, to help support the project.
With anywhere between £4m and £10m required to repair and maintain the home, fundraising will be an ongoing mission.
Trust chairman Alan Marshall, said: “People should also remember that we were told that we wouldn’t even get this far in our bid to buy the house, but look at where we are now.
“We’ve come a long way, but we need help to complete the next steps.”
Bannockburn House has not been lived in for around 50 years with a fire damaging part of the building in the early 1960s.
The property was later owned by Alexander Wilson, whose family was to become Scotland’s largest producer of tartan.
The family are generally credited with the clan naming system for tartan weaves that is still in use today.
The last family to actively live in the house full time were the Mitchells who had businesses in gold, mining, and tobacco.
Dr David Mitchell, Director of Conservation at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “We have been pleased to collaborate with the community trust in developing their plans in relation to Bannockburn House – a remarkable property of national significance.
“I have been very impressed with the passion of the local community in raising the profile of the house to take this project forward, and we will continue to advise and support the community where we can.”