THE aristocratic family behind the development of Bo’ness is showing off its treasures in an exhibition at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.
The Duke of Hamilton’s family collection includes the death mask of Mary, Queen of Scots and the ill-fated queen’s sapphire ring.
Also on show will be Sir Godfrey Kneller’s painting of the third Duchess of Hamilton (the ‘Good Duchess Anne’) who was responsible for the development of Kinneil Estate and its fledging neighbour, Borrowstounness (Bo’ness) in the 17th century.
The exhibition, ‘Treasures from Lennoxlove’, is named after the Duke of Hamilton’s current home in East Lothian, which is undergoing a two-year restoration.
The free display will be on show at Lyon and Turnbull, the fine art auctioneers, in Broughton Place, Edinburgh, from August 1 to 18. The exhibition will be open every day except Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thanks to the ‘Good Duchess Anne’, Bo’ness became a burgh of regality in 1668. This was the first, important step towards proper local government in the district. A year later the burgh gained the status of free port and harbour.
Historian TJ Salmon wrote in 1913: “To Duchess Anne and Duke William, her husband, much credit is due to the early development of the village of Borrowstounness. With them commenced a thoroughly practical interest in the struggling town and in their own House of Kinneil.
“On the latter they made very considerable alterations, greatly enlarging and embellishing it. And there is no doubt whatever that they made it a frequent place of residence.”
The Good Duchess was responsible for the creation of new workers cottages at Kinneil Estate – and a neighbouring stable block – now used as Kinneil Museum. The group Friends of Kinneil is campaigning to keep the historic building open to the public.
A Friends spokesman said: “The Hamilton family have been linked to the Bo’ness area for hundreds of years and have left us an impressive historical legacy. Kinneil Museum tells part of that story, but this exhibition provides an additional insight into this fascinating dynasty.”
The spokesman added: “The exhibition will give local people a great opportunity to see one of Scotland’s finest collections of family portraits – as well as examples of furniture and porcelain.”
You can find out more about the free exhibition and download the catalogue by visiting http://tinyurl.com/q7p8j