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Menstrie
Menstrie is a village in the county of Clackmannanshire, Scotland. It is about 5 miles east of Stirling and is one of several villages at the base of the Ochil Hills which are collectively referred to as the Hillfoots Villages.

It is overlooked by Dumyat and Myreton Hill, two of the most westerly summits of the Ochil Hills, which rise steeply on the north side of the village. These two hills are divided by Menstrie Glen. Menstrie itself lies on almost flat ground, roughly astride the Ochil Fault.

A small watercourse, Menstrie burn, runs through the village to the south where it joins the River Devon, which in turn joins the River Forth.

The village has 2 general stores one of which houses a Post Office. There is a pharmacy, one pub, a petrol station and a couple of eating places. It also has a community centre housing a library and small sports centre, public park, primary school, nursing home, and two churches, one being the Menstrie Parish Church (Church of Scotland) and the other, The United Free Church of Scotland. Unusually for a place of this size (around 2630 people) it has 2 castles, however, while they are called castles they are more like baronial mansion houses.

Menstrie was known in the 1800s as a producer of woollen blankets and tartans. However, the most significant industrial development in Menstrie was the Glenochil Distillery which started in 1746 under the name of The Dolls Distillery. By the 1880s the distillery production had grown, producing around a million gallons per year, making it one of the most productive distilleries in Scotland at the time. It even had its own railway sidings.

Menstrie is divided by the A91 road which runs from the junctions of the M80 and M9 motorways to St Andrews on the east coast. The newer part of the village lies south of this road. The original road through the village is at the northern side of the village green where the 'Auld Brig' which was built around 1665 crosses over the burn.

The village is popular with hill-walkers; as it is situated at the foot of Dumyat, (one of the most popular peaks in the Ochil Hills) and Myreton Hill which is frequently used by paragliders.

Menstrie Castle
Menstrie Castle was the birthplace of Sir William Alexander, James VI’s Chartered Lieutenant for the Plantation of Nova Scotia. Despite its grand sounding name, it is architecturally described as a "three-storey castellated house" lacking fortified features. The building is now residential.

Sir William advised King James VI to found the Order of Baronets of Nova Scotia as a money making scheme. For the payment of 1,000 merks, new baronets were granted a 16,000 acre estate in the developing colony.

The scheme failed and in 1631, Charles I ceded the lands to Louis XIII of France and ordered the settlers to burn their buildings. After the failure of the scheme, Sir William died a bankrupt in London in 1644.

There are still about 100 Baronets of Nova Scotia in existence. Many of them are descended from ancestors who once nominally owned territory which they would never see.

Probably the biggest surprise of all about the castle is that it is located in the middle of a 1950’s housing estate! The building became derelict in the 1800’s and remained so until 1951 when the castle was listed as a building of national importance. In 1961, after a period of refurbishment it eventually became accommodation. More about the history of Menstrie Castle and some of its former residents can be found on the menstrie.org and Menstrie Castle websites.

Broomhall Castle
The other castle is Broomhall which was built on the southern slopes of Myreton Hill overlooking the village. It was built around 1874 and has had a number of uses over the years; home, Italian riding school, boys prep school, nursing home and now a hotel and restaurant. It has a Civil Ceremony Licence and is popular as a wedding venue.

A very short but interesting history of Broomhall can be found on the Broomhall Castle website.

To see a photo gallery of Menstrie and surrounding area click here


External links (all open in a separate window):

Broomhall Castle

Menstrie Primary School

menstrie.org

Menstrie Parish Church

 

Any errors, comments or ideas for inclusion can be e-mailed to Peter

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