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- Category: A
- Date Added: 05/02/1971
- Local Authority: South Ayrshire
- Planning Authority: South Ayrshire
- Burgh: Ayr
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NS 33239 17945
- Coordinates: 233239, 617945
Thomas Hamilton, 1818-22. Greek Revival monument; triangular-plan base with canted corners; open circular monument atop. Droved base course; channelled and vermiculated sandstone base; ashlar dressings and monument.
SW (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: steps to central entrance; splayed doorpiece; recessed timber door within (wreaths to sunken panels, star detailing surrounding). Greek key panel above breaks eaves and cornice to form semi-pediment with decorative scroll work. Polygonal-plan base atop supports circular-plan base supporting fluted Corinthian columns; wreath frieze; dentilled eaves; dentilled soffit (Greek key pattern and anthemion motifs to panels within; wreath to central circular panel); acroteriae; decorative stone foliate supports and urn detailing; gilded tripod finial surmounting (emblem of Apollo).
SE and NW ELEVATIONS: as for SW elevation; with blind niches replacing entrance doorpiece; additional small window to left of niche in SE elevation.
Roof unseen 1999.
INTERIOR: circular-plan stone floor; Doric order, with two columns in antis forming niche; bust within by Sir John Steell; plain metopes to Doric frieze; Greek key pattern ceiling panels above; garlanded bucranium frieze to glazed dome above. Shouldered, splayed doorpieces to entrance and left and right; timber doors, wreaths to sunken panels, star detailing surrounding; door to left leads to iron-railed stone staircase; rises to open columns; iron steps and railings.
LAMP STANDARDS, SUNDIAL, RAILINGS, GATES AND BOUNDARY WALL: decorative lamp standards to corner angles of monument; scrolled stone feet; circular-plan bases; painted circular-plan high upright; decorative iron, domed lamp standards surmounting. Sundial near entrance to Monument; elaborate baluster shaft (bulbous to centre, with figurative heads); table dial; metal gnomon. Ornate iron railings atop boundary wall to Alloway. Iron 2-leaf gate to Alloway entrance; modern 2-leaf gate to side entrance. Coped boundary wall encloses site.
Statement of Special Interest
The Burns Monument was Hamilton's first public project, won in competition. Hamilton declined the premium of 20 guineas stating that he was "proud to pay this small tribute of respect to the genius of Burns." The Burns Monument (costing ?2,085) was funded by public subscription raised by a committee chaired by Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, who inspired and directed the project. The builder was John Connell. The foundation stone was laid 25/07/1820 and the monument opened on the 4/7/1823. As Joe Rock notes, a set of drawings apparently by William Playfair show Hamilton's intention to use the more expensive, but more appropriate (according to Vitruvian principles) Ionic order (only one late presentation drawing used for fund-raising purposes survives). The circular temple has been associated in the romantic imagination with eternity, and after the publication of the Antiquities of Athens of 1762, showing the small Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, also associated with poetry. Unlike later users of the Lysicrates model, Hamilton did not just copy the original. He used the Corinthian order from the Temple of Castor and Pollux, removing the wall between the columns, to produce an open circular temple on a high triangular base.
Ordnance Survey map, 1858 (evident); THE NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND (1845), pp26-7; FH Groome ORDNANCE GAZETTEER OF SCOTLAND (1892), p44; THE THIRD STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND (1951), p534; Ian Fisher "Thomas Hamilton" in THE SCOTTISH GEORGIAN SOCIETY, No 11 (1984), p5; Joe Rock THOMAS HAMILTON, ARCHITECT 1784-1858 (1984) pp8-10; John Strawhorn THE HISTORY OF AYR (1989), p135; Michael C Davis THE CASTLES AND MANSIONS OF AYRSHIRE (1991), p48; Rob Close AYRSHIRE AND ARRAN (1992), p156; Howard Colvin A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS 1600-1840 (1995, 3rd edition), pp453, 455; Miles Glendinning, Ranald MacInnes and Aonghus MacKechnie A HISTORY OF SCOTTISH ARCHITECTURE (1996), pp202, 571.
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