Take a look around Pollok Park | Burrell Collection
Pollok House Glasgow is one of the City's most visited attractions.
Now, whilst you may well be thinking, what's so good about a house, most of us have a house, that's fair enough, but has your house been standing since the middle of the 18th century and looks just as stunning as it did when it was constructed? Does yours connect a family history that stems back to the 13th century? Does it contain one of the most sought-after art collections in the world and what was thought to have been Scotland's finest library in the 20th century?
If not therefore, and you find yourself wandering about in Glasgow at some point in the future in a tizzy about what to do with your time, take a while to head over here and walk the ancient halls & corners of Pollok House, and join the hundreds of thousands of other folks who do the same each year to appreciate & marvel in its influential place in the history of Scotland.
Aside from being an absolutely exquisite piece of architecture in itself, the house sits within the breathtaking confines of Pollok Country Park, which has been voted the best park in Europe, and is a few minutes walk away from the world famous Burrell Collection (take a peek at both using the links from this page).
So given that I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be completely captivated by each of these attractions if you visit, I'd suggest that you clear an entire day for all three.
The architect of Pollok House is unknown unfortunately, and although a chap called William Adam is commonly understood to have drawn up plans for a similar house in 1737, the style of what was eventually constructed appears to suggest that his plans weren't followed at all.
What you see today is an extension of what was built originally under the watchful eye of Sir John Maxwell, 3rd Baronet. I go into this in more detail on my page about Pollok Country Park. What I'll add to that however, is that it's believed that the stone used to construct the house was the same stone which formed the castles the Maxwells had lived in previously, and that the extension to the original house was designed by Robert Rowand Anderson (whose visionary work you'll also see at Glasgow Central Station Hotel).
The house was adopted as a hospital temporarily in the First World War, and stands within the grounds of the ancient barony of Mearns and Pollok. The earliest known possessor of the barony is thought to have been Roland de Mearns in the 13th century, and the Maxwells came into possession when his heiress, Mary, married Sir Aymer Maxwell of Caerlaverock.
So its ancestry & memory have been coloured magnificently as Scotland has evolved down the centuries, and when you walk through the doors and see the mind-bending astronomical clock from 1764 shine back at you in the corridor stairwell, then breathe silently in the cigar room where in 1931 Sir John Stirling-Maxwell convened the meeting to create the National Trust for Scotland, like me you'll begin to feel a little humbled in your surroundings.
The house was gifted to the City of Glasgow in 1966 by Anne Maxwell Macdonald, the daughter of Sir John, and it was then passed to the National Trust for Scotland in 1998.
The aim of the Trust in presenting Pollok House for your enjoyment, is to present it as a living house & home. So what you'll see is pretty much what it would have been like in the 1930s, and that's probably a good thing for the Maxwells, because I learned recently that whilst most of the house is open to the public, when they're in Glasgow the Maxwells actually still use the house for accomodation (I can't help having images of touring around the house as a visitor and bumping into one of them as they head to the bathroom to brush their teeth!).
A word of warning therefore, when you're visiting make sure you keep behind the ropes - it'd be pretty embarrassing if you walked in on a family get-together!
Pollok House is a pretty remarkable CountryHouse given that even though when you spend some time there you think you're nowhere near a City, in fact Scotland's busiest motorway is just along the road and it'll take you only two minutes to get to the light-absorbing beast of Silverburn Shopping Centre!
It's open every day apart from Christmas & Boxing Day and the first two days of the year, and entry's free to the downstairs Servants' Quarters and only few pounds will get you upstairs in the summer.
All year round though there's a huge number of outstanding events laid on at Pollok House. My personal favourite's in December, when they deck each room in fabulous Christmas trimmings from different eras, making it look wonderfully like the massive log-fired house at the end of Miracle on 34th Street, and Mrs. Claus herself is invited to spend some time with the kids, which I can guarantee comes across as completely unlike the cheap commercialism you'll witness in most of the Santa's Grottos thrown up everywhere at this time. They also pack the house with traditional gifts & antiques, a fantastic seasonal menu in the restaurant, and dotted about all over the place you'll catch the Pollok Teddy Bears playing games of hide & seek with you!
What can I say, for a big kid like me it's one of the best things about Christmas in Glasgow. So if you're looking to get into the true seasonal spirit in a Country House which seems hundreds of miles from the pushy shops, and which stands perfectly frozen in a time when Christmas was more about family values, here's the place to be.
During the rest of the year though, you'll see special events days to introduce you to the Georgians & Victorians who lived in Pollok House, the Antiques Fairs when all the rooms are emptied and filled with curious stalls, the energetic Easter egg hunts, Outside Inside events when the countryside barges its way into the house with the Highland Cow Hunt & Mrs. Cotton Tail, and also some creepy Murder Mystery nights.
That having been said, no matter whether an event is being held when you're at Pollok House, you'll have more than enough to keep you entertained.
By far the busiest part of the house is the wonderful Servants’ Quarters situated in the basement. This was where around 48 indoor members of staff would have busied about tending to only a very small family. You'll be able to experience the brilliant menu of the award-winning Edwardian Kitchen Restaurant & courtyard (where you'll sample age-old techniques of homebaking at their finest), and of course the packed souvenir shops, but the main thought you'll get as you explore the basement is that to run a house this big it's obvious why it needed 48 staff.
Things just aren't done the same way these days as they were back then. You won't see dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves & breadmakers. Take one look at the Still Room where cordials, jams & jellies were made and the baking was done, and you'll understand that the cooks & maids of the old days couldn't just pop to the supermarket for everything they needed!
However, Pollok House is more famous for its collection of art. Sir John Stirling-Maxwell became an expert in Spanish works of art, having written in 1848 his Annals of the Artists of Spain, and most of his collection can be viewed in the house including extremely valuable and important works by William Blake, El Greco, & Murillo. The great thing about this however, is that it's all set out unlike the usual stuffy art gallery where you'd expect such paintings to be hanging. You'll find yourself walking about, taking in all the information on display which helps you understand the history of the collection, and feeling as if you're just admiring some pictures your neighbour's collected. The setting really does put you at ease, and for me at least, completely sweeps away the unspoken pressure you might feel in a normal gallery to look as though you understand absolutely what you're looking at!
Apart from that, just take a gander around all the wonderfully decorated rooms, watch the DVD on the big screen at the top of the house, peek at some of the fascinating clothes hanging up in the bedrooms and the ancient scrapbook with its stories of the day, and all in all, come away with a great appreciation of what it really would have been like to have lived there.
Every time I head to Pollok House though, I also find myself gazing out the windows in complete awe of the scenery the Maxwells would've had the pleasure in experiencing. As I said before, if you're stumped for what to do in Glasgow no matter the weather, and feel like tasting a bit of culture, clear a day for Pollok House and you won't be disappointed.
The directions to Pollok Country Park & the Burrell Collection are on those pages linked from here, but briefly, by bus from the City Centre you can get the First Bus numbers 45 & 57 to the Pollokshaws Road entrance (I find they're the most regular, but please check out my bus guide in the Getting Around Glasgow section). Once you're there just follow the signs for Pollok House, and there's also a shuttle bus if you need it.
If you're going by train, go to Central Station and jump the one to Pollokshaws West Train Station which is just round the corner from the park. By bike you can use National Cycle Route 7 and the 'Fit for Life around Glasgow' Route, and by car just head along the M77 until Junction 1 or 2 and follow the signs.
Any other directions etc. please let me know.
Yes, the gallery below may look eerily similar to the one on the Pollok Country Park page, but hey, whatchagonnado?!!
If you visit and take some (no doubt more professional) photos, please send them my way in the Photo Box and I'll show them off to the world!
To view the gallery below, click on any image on this page. The light box containing the pictures will open shortly, then 'click right' or 'left arrow' [ > or < ] or 'play' button to view the gallery.