The Village of Chryston - North Lanarkshire - Scotland
Bedlay House The manor of Bedlay , locally known as Bedlay Castle because of its baronial style, is at the eastern end of Chryston, surrounded on three sides by trees. It towers above the Bothlin Burn and the Well Brae path, standing on the abrupt termination of a trap dyke and occupying the whole breadth of its summit. Before the existing terraces at the south and west ends were made, the ground on both these sides sloped up to its walls as steeply as it does on the north side. This steepness is clearly visible from the Well Brae path, which passes below to the east. The lower part of the south terrace wall is old but the buttress and balustrade are of more recent date, the stones having come from the former village of Grahamston, on the site of which Glasgow Central Station now stands. The house is of two periods. The eastern end with its square tower at the north- east corner is the oldest portion. Built in 1175 for the Bishop of Glasgow it contains the only entrance, a broad moulded doorway. An early well, chapel site and confessional were found in this section-such features are consistent with the transitional style of architecture of pre-1200. In the period 1572-81 the lands of Bedlay and the Mollins were feued out to Robert, Fourth Lord Boyd of Kilmarnock by his kinsman Archbishop Boyd of Glasgow. Lord Boyd is also credited with building the older section. The other part of the building was built during the ownership by the Roberton family and gradually modernised and improved by successive owners. The house contains a trip step on the stairs leading to the main living quarters, and a moveable panel at one of the windows allows access to a secret hiding place between floors. There was said to be a passage between the castle and Badenheath Tower at Mollinsburn (now demolished) and certain local gentlemen have claimed to have entered it. There is no evidence when and why it was constructed. The estate remained with the Boyd family until 1641 when the Eighth Lord Boyd, who was a steady supporter of Royalty in the Civil War, was fined £15,000 by Cromwell. This caused some financial difficulty and embarrassment, so he mortgaged various properties and sold the property of Bedlay House to James Roberton, an advocate, while retaining the superiority of the estate. James Roberton was raised to the Judicial Bench in 1661, adopting the name of Lord Bedlay. The superiority of the estate was acquired in 1740 from the Fourth and last Earl of Kilmarnock by James Roberton, a great grandson of Lord Bedlay, who possessed it for about 46 years. There are reasons to believe that it was he who built the more modern section bearing the turrets. It is recorded that when he died in 1770 the notice of his death appeared in the Scots Magazine, Vol. 32, p. 168: "Died 30th March 1770 at Bedlay, in advanced age, James Roberton Esq. of Bedlay. He is succeeded in his estate by his only son Archibald Roberton, Advocate." The house and the estate of Bedlay and the Mollins continued in the hands of the Robertons until 10th February 1786, a total of 144 years, and were then sold to James Dunlop, who owned the nearby Garnkirk House and estate. James Dunlop was the son of Colin Dunlop, Lord Provost of Glasgow in 1770. He was one of the "Virginia Lords", importers of tobacco. He owned other estates including Barrowfield, on which Bridgeton and Calton have since been built. He was also a leading partner in the "Old Greenock Bank". However in 1793 he was one of the many persons who were ruined when the tobacco trade collapsed, and in consequence sold the estates of Bedlay and Garnkirk for £50,000 to John McKenzie, who was originally one of his valets. McKenzie only retained these properties for 11 years before selling them to James Campbell, a tanner at Thornhill, Perthshire, and in the Glasgow Gallowgate at Dovehill. Among other properties he also owned Petershill House and the small estates of Shirva and St Flannan in the Parish of Kirkintilloch. Campbell Street in the Gallowgate was opened by him in 1784 and named after him. He moved eventually to Bedlay, residing there until he died, on 13th June 1829, aged 88. During his years at Bedlay he restored the interior of the mansion built by the Robertons but did not alter the exterior. The antiquated section built by the Lord Boyds had been dovetailed into the newer section, but it remained in a dilapidated state. James Campbell was succeeded by his second son Alexander, a lawyer, commonly known as "Sandy", a man of "fascinating manners and a great favourite". He removed the greater part of the antiquated section of the house and effected further improvements to the living quarters. He apparently took offence at the old mill and had it demolished together with an ancient tomb or mausoleum which stood in the field immediately behind the present lodge house and bordering the Cumbernauld Road. This tomb had been built by the Lord Boyds and was described as being of considerable size, with a steep pitched roof covered with massive flagstones. It had slits at each end for light and it had a massive door. The stones for this structure came from Lochwood, the seat of the Bishops of Glasgow, which was located near to the Bishop's Loch at Gartloch. It is said that the stones were transported over the loch, when it was completely frozen over, and brought to the site. Its position is marked by a round pillar, one of the gateposts of the tomb, and this is clearly visible from the Cumbernauld Road. The stones of the building were used to form the plinth of the present lodge house. The original lodge, dated 1763, stood in Avenuehead Road opposite the farm of that name. It was demolished in the 1960s, being then in ruins. The avenue was reduced in length when the turnpike road was built, around 1790, and Bedlay Cemetery stands on its line. Sandy Campbell also attempted in 1849, as his father had done before him in 1809, to close the Well Brae path and deprive the villagers of the use of Bedlay Well. This was successfully resisted, as had been the earlier attempt, by submission of a document to the Justices of the Peace for the County of Lanark by the feuers of Chryston and Moodiesburn, and farmers and residenters in the surrounding district. It refers in clear detail to the use of the path between the two villages, and also refers to the "excellent Spring Well which is daily almost hourly used by the inhabitants of Chryston . . . which forms the only constant supply of good water on which they can depend". Sandy Campbell, who was unmarried, died in 1852, aged 66. He was succeeded by his niece Catherine, who died two years later, when her husband Thomas Craig Christie became owner. He made further improvements to the house and also laid out an extensive walled garden. He granted the site for Bedlay Cemetery when it was found that the cemetery next to the Parish Church could not be extended. The dedication of the burial ground took place in July 1861 by the Rt. Rev. D. Wilson, Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, assisted by other Episcopal clergy. In this area was a large dovecot, which in those days was a sign of great prosperity. It stood on the site of the Christie tomb. Thomas Christie remarried and had issue of two sons and four daughters. He died in 1910, his elder son Bernard, a doctor, in 1911 and his wife the following year. His younger son Walter C. B. Christie then became owner and remained so until his own death in 1941, aged 78. None of his sisters married and they died between the years 1947-58 in the exact order of their birthKatherine, Eveline, Anna and Jean. The ladies were unobtrusive in their work in the district, but took a great interest in young ladies' organisations and several charities. Following the death of the Miss Jean Christie in 1958 the house became the property of Captain J. McAdam who carried out some modernisation, both inside the house and within the grounds. The former gardener's house, offices and gardens are now used by Bedlay Kennels.
The Story of Chryston
by Neil Kidd
Bedlay mansion