Open days could herald another bumper year for Friends

Kinneil House
Kinneil House

Historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness is set to stage eight free open days in 2015.

The mansion – which boasts some of the best Renaissance wall paintings in Scotland – dates back to the 15th century and was once home to the Dukes of Hamilton.

The first open day is on Saturday, March 21, to tie in with the town’s Festival of Silent Cinema.

The House will get into the movie mood by hosting Now Showing, a free exhibition on local cinema-going.

There will also be a chance for visitors to create their own movie memories with a pop-up photo booth. Kinneil Museum will also re-open after a two-month revamp and will be showing movies.

The full line-up of 2015 open days at Kinneil House are: Saturday, March 21, 10am-noon; Saturday, April 18, noon-3pm; Sunday, April 19, noon-3pm; Friday, May 15, 6-7pm; Saturday, June 27, noon-3pm; Saturday, August 29, noon-3pm; Saturday, September 19, noon-3pm and Saturday, October 31, noon-3pm.

They have been organised by The Friends of Kinneil and Falkirk Community Trust, in association with Historic Scotland, which cares for Kinneil House.

Maria Ford, of the Friends group, said: “Last year was a bumper year at Kinneil with a big growth in visitors and some great responses to our open days. We’re hoping for similar success in 2015.

“All of the open events are free of charge and allow people to see inside this wonderful building. Kinneil is also packed with history, boasting links to Mary, Queen of Scots, the inventor James Watt and, of course, the Romans who built the Antonine Wall right through the grounds.

“Our guides will be on hand to tell visitors about Kinneil’s story. We’re also planning surprises and activities to make Kinneil a place you’ll want to come back to.”

The March 21 open day has been organised to tie in with the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema running at the nearby Hippodrome.

Said Maria: “We thought it was a good idea to open Kinneil House at the same time. It will allow festival-goers the chance to have a quick tour and then go to the movies. Like the Hippodrome, Kinneil House is A-listed.”

Other events have been programmed to tie in with national and local events.

The weekend openings on April 18 and 19 will see the first anniversary of the opening of the John Muir Way, the long-distance walking route which runs past the House.

April 18 is also World Heritage Day (Kinneil is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site). Visitors can expect a costumed interpreter and giveaways.

For the Scottish Festival of Museums and the UK’s Museums at Night celebrations in May, Kinneil House will be opening at night. There will also be an evening opening at Kinneil Museum and a bat-hunt.

Kinneil House – an early location for Bo’ness Children’s Fair – will open the day after the Fair, on Saturday, June 27. There will be an additional opening on August 29. And in September, the House will be the focus for Big Roman Week, celebrating Falkirk district’s Roman roots.

The 2015 programme will end with a Hallowe’en theme on October 31.