1641 with mid-18th century repairs; 1924-5 addition and interior remodelled. 2-storey (see Notes), 2-bay rectangular-plan former schoolhouse with crowstepped gables and 1925 addition to N. Sandstone and whinstone rubble with sandstone ashlar dressings. Eaves Course. Long and short sandstone quoins; raised ashlar window margins; relieving arches over some ground-floor windows. 2-leaf timber panelled door in roll-moulded ashlar architrave with tablet above inscribed MAIN BUILDING ERECTED 1641. EXTENSION 1925. NEC TAMEN CONSUMEBATUR to 1925 extension. Main building to left with central doorway (filled in) and windows to both floors in flanking bays. Window to right of 1st floor at S gable; evidence of 3 other windows, filled in. Regularly fenestrated rear elevation with Hans Hamilton's Tomb adjoining to right (see separate list description). Classical gravestone of Agnes Cochrane built into side of 1925 addition.
Small-pane glazing (probably 1924) in timber hopper windows. Coped stack with thake-stone to S gablehead. Finial to N gable (see Notes) and 1925 addition. Graded grey Scottish slate.
INTERIOR: remodelled 1924. Large 2-storey room, timber panelled to 1st-floor level; roll-moulded cornice; vaulted ceiling with Jacobean-style plasterwork. Red tiles to extension; 2-leaf, half glazed timber panelled door to main room.
Statement of Special Interest
A-Group with Hans Hamilton's Tomb and Dunlop Parish Church. Founded in 1641 by James Hamilton, Viscount Clandeboye. The present building is generally believed to date from 1641. If this is the case, it is one of the oldest surviving school buildings in Scotland, and, according to the author of 'The Development of School Buildings in Scotland', the outstanding pre-18th century example of its size, ranking in importance with George Heriot's School in Edinburgh. However, JF Blayne notes from the Parish records that in 1747 'the schoolhouse at Dunlop continues yet in ruins', following a fire in about 1738, and that it was rebuilt some time after 1750. It is unknown how much of the original 17th century fabric survives. The building has been much-altered, and a number of doors and windows have been filled in. Judging from the stonework, it seems likely that the raised window margins probably date from the mid-18th restoration: the original windows probably had long and short quoins, like the filled-in doorway, and the 1st-floor window at the rear. The authors of the 'Statistical Account', and 'New Statistical Account' date the school to 1641 on the basis of an inscription over the door, which read: '1641 This school is erected and endowed by James, Viscount Clandeboyes, in love to his Parish, in which his father, Hans Hamilton, was pastor 45 years in King James the Sixt his raigne'. The original inscription no longer survives, but a copy of it, on a brass plaque, hangs inside the building. The author of the Statistical Account describes the school as a 'good substantial building' one of the best houses of the kind', while in the New Statistical Account, it is described as 'still in pretty good repair', although the teacher's accommodation is considered to be rather meagre. In 1837 a new school was built at 33 Main Street, and this building was sold. It was then used successively as a house, shoe-maker's shop and lodging house. In the late nineteenth century the upper flat was rented by the Kirk Session for use as a church hall, and they purchased the whole building in 1919. In 1924 it was renovated at a cost of £800. The interior was gutted to form a single room, and the extension was built. This replaced a very clumsy stone and brick addition that gave access to the upper flat.
James, Viscount Clandeboye was the eldest son of Hans Hamilton, who was the first protestant minister of Dunlop. He worked as a spy in Ireland for King James VI, and opened a protestant school in Dublin to cover his activities. He was elevated to the peerage in 1622.