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- Category: A
- Date Added: 04/11/1965
- Local Authority: Stirling
- Planning Authority: Stirling
- Burgh: Stirling
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NS 79173 93674
- Coordinates: 279173, 693674
1634-1661, James Rynd, master mason to a design by John Mylne, dated 1639; 2-storey and basement, E-plan, Scottish Renaissance former burgh hospital with crowstepped gables and Dutch-influenced detail. White-washed rubble with tooled dressings; moulded stringcourses and narrow quoins. Interior remodelled early 18th century and again in 1852, F & W Mackison, as Guildhall (see Notes).
NORTH (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 4-stage, ogee-roofed tower to centre; niche with painted statue of John Cowane. Arched and pedimented belfry windows; narrow aedicules and ball finials; crow-stepped gables to wings. Apex chimneys to outer bays. Inscribed panels and lintel stones with biblical quotations.
E ELEVATION: strapwork pediment over projecting tri-partite window with moulded mullions and cornice. Two corniced doorways below, also with strapwork detail and J C monogram.
S ELEVATION: three pedimented windows breaking eaves alternating with shouldered wallhead stacks.
Timber sash and case windows, predominantly 12-pane pattern. Grey slate. Coped end stacks with octagonal cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: pointed Gothic scheme to Guildhall; timber panelled to door height with guilded highlights. Arched open timber roof with stone corbels; large fireplace to E gable wall; stair to timber gallery at W end; separate small domed box balcony to N wall over coupled timber consoles. Set of large decoratively carved timber chairs with mark of the Guildry (reversed 4). Stained glass window commemorating Cowane, by James Ballantyne, also circa 1852. At first floor, arrangement of rooms to N evidence original hospital function and use. Turnpike stair down to cellar: chamfered dressings to doorways and stone corbels supporting floor above; an integrated fire place and wash tub arrangement.
LAMPSTANDS: mid 19th century, pair of decorative lampstands flanking main entrance to N. Glazed lantern cases with coloured glass insets; intricate filigree metalwork to caps with Guildry symbols (reversed 4).
TERRACES to SE: two-tier with coped balustrade and urn balusters; sandstone steps with recessed riser detail; flagstones to upper terrace. Two Crimean cannons placed on the lower terrace in 1858. The adjacent bowling green was laid down in 1712 (see Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes for full details).
BOUNDARY WALL TO SE: reworked rubble additions to foundation of earlier section of Town Wall. Extends from raised section of terrace at S corner angle to boundary wall of Old Town Jail (see separate listing).
Statement of Special Interest
Part of an A-Group with Cowane's Hospital Sundial (see separate listing - HBNUM 41102).
The former Cowane's Hospital is a rare survival of 17th century burgh architecture and one of the finest buildings of its kind in Scotland. Occupying a key site at the core of the old City of Stirling adjacent to the Church of the Holy Rude (see separate listing) its plan, form and detail exemplify institutional burgh building of the period.
The hospital was funded from a legacy from John Cowane, Dean of Guild and Member of Parliament for Stirling, as an almshouse for the support of twelve "decayed Gildbreithers" of the burgh. His architect was John Mylne IV, master mason to the Crown and major figure of the Scottish Renaissance and Mannerist tradition. Mylne began work on Edinburgh's Tron Kirk (see separate listing) at the same time as Cowane's Hospital, and both draw on Dutch architectural forms of the 16th and 17th centuries. At Cowane's, these include the central bell tower with ogival roof and niche statue. The building references important trade links through embellishment with inscribed panels of biblical quotations, representative of Scottish and Dutch custom. The statue of Cowane, by William Ayton and John Mylne, was sculpted from a preliminary draft by John Service, a local mason and contemporary of Cowane.
Changing use in the 18th century for civic purposes, the building was remodelled internally in the mid 19th century in the Gothic-Revival style by burgh surveyor and Stirling Town architect Francis Mackison, as a Guildhall. The remodelled interior scheme is clearly distinguishable from earlier work within the building with high quality woodwork including the roof structure, gallery, panelling, fireplaces and an impressive set of carved chairs designed for the building. The E-plan form and exterior profile remain largely unchanged as a result of the reworking.
The south wall of the building joins the earlier Town Wall fortification established in the 16th century, with the angled garden terrace section at the south corner angle providing a defensive position for small arm fire. It is understood that the hospital was conceived as an integral part of the existing defences, forming one a number of regular bastions within the Town Wall.
The ornate lampstands add considerable interest to the immediate setting of the building. A product of the Shotts Ironworks, founded in 1802, they are particularly fine and elaborate examples of the company's work.
The Cowane's Hospital Garden with parterre and bowling green is a rare example of a 17th century Dutch-influenced garden in Scotland. It was added to the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in 2012 (see Inventory entry for details).
De-sheduled 3 March 1999. List description revised, 2012.
John Laye, Plan of the Town and Castle of Stirling (1740). 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1858). RCAHMS, Inventory 231 (il). R G Cant & I G Lindsay, Old Stirling (1948) p13; MacGibbon and Ross, Castellated and Domestic Architecture, Vol IV (1887) pp76-7 (illustration and floor plan). Old Statistical Account of Scotland Vol VIII p285. New Statistical Account of Scotland Vol VIII p423. National Art Survey of Scotland (1921) Vol I Part III, Plates 50-53. John Gifford and Frank Arneil Walker, The Buildings of Scotland - Stirling And Central Scotland (2002) pp707-9. J G Harrison, Building Cowane's Hospital, Stirling 1636-50, Journal of the Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group, No 33 (2009-10). Benjamin Tindall Architects, Cowane's Hospital Stirling, Conservation Plan (2011); www.scottishironwork.org
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