Kilnside House
Blackhall Manor

Blackhall Manor today - click for larger version

Although one of the smallest houses, Blackhall Manor has the oldest and most illustrious history. It is situated back from the A726 Barrhead Road close to the junction with Marnock Terrace.

From the  Renfrewshire Council website.

The first house on this site was built in the 12th century by Walter Fitzalan, High Steward of Scotland and 1st Baron Renfrew, who also established Paisley Abbey. The house was originally used as a hunting lodge as it was then in the midst of the Forest of Paisley. The Steward's chief huntsman had his residence nearby on "Hunter's Hill". The name is still in use today for the second hill behind Chapelhill Road (the other one is Blackhall Hill). The housing estate is also called "Hunterhill".

Fitzalan's son
Alan FitzWalter accompanied Richard the Lionheart on the Third Crusade, from which he returned to Scotland in July 1191. Blackhall has even closer royal connections. It was inherited by Walter Fitzalan's direct descendent Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland and the 6th Baron Renfrew (1293–1326). He married Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert the Bruce. Their son became the first of the Stewart kings, King Robert II. He  was born on 2 March 1316 in Paisley . The legend is that she died near Gallowhill, after being thrown from her horse while heavily pregnant, but the child survived. Their is a cairn on Renfrew Road to commemorate the event. He succeeded David II and founded the Stewart dynasty. 

Blackhall continued to be passed down through the generations of the Stewart (later known as the Shaw-Stewart) family. The Stewart family lived at Blackhall until around 1700 when they moved to Ardgowan House near Inverkip, (presumably  Ardgowan Street close to the manor in Paisley is named after it). It is still owned by the Shaw-Stewart family today. 

Here is a little history .

The family of Stewart, now Shaw Stewart of Blackhall and Greenock, Renfrewshire, is descended from Sir John Stewart, one of the natural sons of Robert III. From his father Sir John received three charters of the lands of Ardgowan, Blackhall, and Auchingoun, all in Renfrewshire, dated 1390, 1396, and 1404. Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall, the fifth from Sir John, was one of the commissioners to parliament for the shire of Renfrew, in the reign of Charles I., by whom he was made one of his privy council, and knighted. He was also of the privy council of Charles II., when in Scotland in 1650. He died in 1658. His grandson, Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, 27th March 1667. He had three sons and a daughter. His youngest son, Walter Stewart of Stewarthill, which estate he purchased in 1719, was solicitor-general for Scotland.

The house then became a farmhouse, and was inhabited until around 1840. When the tenant farmer moved to a new farmhouse the roof was removed, probably to avoid tax, and the house was used as a cattle shed and store.  It continued to be used as a store for one hundred years, until the Shaw-Stewart family donated it to the Burgh of Paisley in 1940. By then the house was in a very poor condition. Vandalism and neglect led it to deteriorate further until in 1978 the local authority considered demolition. This proposal caused a public outcry, and the house was saved.

This is what it looked like

Blackhall Manor before rennovation - click for larger version

Finally by 1982, when the house went into private ownership, the new owner successfully renovated the house and created a home comprising a great hall, dining room, four bedrooms and a stone spiral staircase. The entrance now is guarded by stone lions salvaged from Ferguslie House in Paisley, and the dormer windows are surmounted by a stone thistle, also from Ferguslie House, and a stone rose from the Ferguslie Mill buildings The lions can be seen at the gatess and the roses above the top windows.

Modern interior

Blackhall Manor before rennovation - click for larger versionBlackhall Manor before rennovation - click for larger version

Below is an 1835 map of the area showing the chapel, Lady Burn and the Lady Kirk (which Ladykirk Crescent, close to Ardgowan Street is now named after). Calside is named Cauldside Street and Causeyside Street is called Causewayside.

1835 map- click for larger version

More here.

Across Barrhead Road, at the bottom of Ardgowan Street from Blackhall lies Chapel House.

Chapel House - click for larger version

Chapel House isn't very big but is interesting because of its connection to Blackhall and the Clark family who owned the Anchor Mills. It appears in the 1864 map below along with the site of a Chapel on the other side of Ardgowan Street almost certainly attached to Blackhall Manor. The shaded area on the right was a reservoir.

In the boundary wall at the entrance, there is a stone engraved 1666 which is from a previous building on the High Street owned by one of the Clark brothers.

Chapel House 1666 stone - click for larger version

This incredible picture is Provost James Clark, on 27th May 1882, the last day of the canal before work began to convert it into a railway. He is looking up toward his home, Chapel House. The path on the right is recognisable today, leading from Barrhead Road opposite the former Silver Thread Hotel up to the railway bridge at Patrick Street which replaced the one shown.

Provest James Clark - click for larger vesrion

Two generations of the Clark family are known to have lived in the house. James Clark was born on 27 February 1831.3 He was the son of James Clark and Agnes McFarlane. He married, firstly, Jane Smith, on 3 March 1858, secondly, Katherine King, d, on 1 June 1871.1 He died on 6 March 1910 at age 79. He held the office of Provost of Paisley between 1882 and 1885.

This is from a gravestone in Abbey Close.

Erected by James & Robert Clark, in memory of their father James Clark, Chapel House, who died 19th October 1865 aged 82 years, their mother Agnes McFarlane, who died 11th September 1836 aged 26 years and their sister Jane who died 10th April 1836 aged 19 months. Sacred to the memory of James Clark, thread manufacturer, Paisley, who died 6th October 1829 in the eighty-third year of his age and his spouse Margaret Campbell who died 6th November 1825 in the seventy-fifth year of her age.


James Clark was born on 27 February 1831 He was the son of James Clark and Agnes McFarlane. He married, firstly, Jane Smith, daughter of George Smith, on 3 March 1858. He married, secondly, Katherine King, daughter of Maj.-Gen. George King and Catherine Sheridan, on 1 June 1871. He died on 6 March 1910 at age 79. James Clark held the office of Provost of Paisley between 1882 and 1885. He lived at Chapel House, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

The house was renovated in 1912 by architect: Balfour Abercrombie who died in action during the first world war in 1916. It is now a children's home.

Millar A H (1889) The castles and mansions of Renfrewshire and Buteshire

The. old house of Blackhall is situated in the Abbey parish, a little to the south-east of Paisley, and near the left bank of the River Cart. It was at one time the principal seat of the family now represented by Sir Michael R. Shaw-Stewart, Bart., and from it they took their territorial title. The present building has long ceased to be the family mansion, and for a considerable time it was left untenanted, and suffered to fall into partial ruin. The existing house was probably built towards the close of the sixteenth century; and though there is no record of the fact extant, it seems likely that it was erected in 1574, about the time when James Stewart of Ardgowan obtained a Charter from James VI. uniting his lands of Ardgowan, Blackhall, and Auchingown into a Barony.*

In this Charter reference is made to "the place of Blackhall," shewing that a mansion of some kind was then in existence there. It continued to be the principal residence of the Stewarts until 1710, at which time Sir Archibald Stewart transferred his family to Ardgowan, and made the old mansion a farm-house. When Crawford wrote his " History of Renfrewshire " he described Blackhall as " well adorned with beautiful planting;" but few traces now remain of the trees and gardens which existed in his time.

It has been stated that Blackhall was a royal residence in 1294, though there is no appearance now of any building at all agreeing with this description. The lands of Blackhall were conferred by Robert III. upon his son, Sir John Stewart, in i396; and from him the present Baronet is directly descended. A sketch of the family history will be found in the article describing Ardgowan.

* Vide Reg. Nag. Sig. 2 q85, Jac. VI.