Auchincruive Estate

(SRUC Auchincruive, West of Scotland College of Agriculture)

Oswald's Temple, Auchincruive
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Oswald's Temple, Auchincruive

An estate in South Ayrshire, Auchincruive lies on the River Ayr a half-mile (1 km) southeast of St. Quivox and 3 miles (5 km) east northeast of Ayr. Auchincruive represents the western campus of Scotland's Rural College, with teaching, research and demonstration facilities. In the 13th century, it was the property of the Wallaces and freedom-fighter William Wallace (1274 - 1305) took refuge here on several occasions. The estate later became home to the Cathcart family but, in 1764, it was purchased by Richard Oswald (1705-84), a London-based merchant and sugar-trader who helped negotiate a peace treaty following the American War of Independence. He commissioned Robert Adam (1728-92) to build Auchincruive House (later known as Oswald Hall). He died in 1784 and the estate was run by his widow until it passed to their son, Richard Alexander Oswald, in 1788. This younger Oswald married a noted beauty who was celebrated by the poet Robert Burns (1759-96).

The estate became the bequest of John Hannah of Girvan Mains and was presented to the Secretary of State for Scotland for use by the West of Scotland College of Agriculture in 1927. His name is remembered in the Hannah Research Institute, which was founded the following year to support the dairy industry. Ownership passed to the Scottish Agricultural College on the merger of the three centrally-funded agricultural colleges in 1990, and to Scotland's Rural College in 2012.

The estate includes a fine arboretum, ornamental gardens, an ice-house and a folly known as Oswald's Temple (or the Tea-House), which was also the work of Robert Adam in 1778. An attractive steading range, known as Gibbsyard, dates from c.1780 and features an unusual domed clock-tower. Auchincruive has regularly been the venue for the Ayr Agricultural Show.

With a surfeit of property, the Scottish Agricultural College has announced that the estate will be redeveloped 2009-2014 to include a hotel, golf course and business park, while retaining a smaller research and education campus.

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