A look at the historic village of Methven and its Castle

 Methven Castle

Methven Village

The village of Methven  lies some  10 miles  to the  east of Crieff and approximately 7 miles  west of the City of Perth . Like  so many  villages in the Strath that  sit  astride modern highways  it  suffers  from  its  somewhat  linear lay out which sees  heavy traffic  speed its  way  to places elsewhere ! Scratch the surface  of this wee place  and  you come  up with a plethora of  fascinating facts about its heritage and historical past. Just off Main Street lies the Methven and Logiealmond Parish Church built in the 1780s and so typical of the parish churches of this period  we  find  scattered about Strathearn .  Built  by local masons James Watt and John Taylor  and a wright called James Anderson , it was in its original state  somewhat devoid of the imagination of  design . The additions of the 1820s made up for this in no  uncertain way and the little kirk  with its  eye catching  bell  tower or bell cote is undoubtedly one of the most attractive church buildings in the area . The organ within the church  was originally installed  within near by Dupplin Castle .

Methven and Logiealmond Parish Church
Interestingly there till remains a little of  yester year that pre dates the present building To the west of it lies the Methven Aisle  - a surviving  part of the medieval kirk / church which was demolished in 1783. It dates  back to 1433 when Walter Stewart , Earl of Atholl , endowed an establishment consisting of a provost , 5  chaplains and 4 choir boys ! The importance of pre Reformation Methven was highlighted in the early 1500s  when 9 extra prebends ( similar to canons ) were  appointed  including  one under the auspices of the King , James lV .Although  badly weathered  , one  can still make out the King’s  Coat of Arms on the north gable .

Last  but not least , I must  draw attention to the Lynedoch Mausoleum  located  next to the  kirk in the adjoining churchyard , Constructed  to the design of the renowned Scottish architect James Playfair in 1792 , this neo classical structure was commissioned by General Thomas Graham , 1st Lord Lynedoch ( the “ Lion of Barossa “ ) in memory of his wife Caroline  who pre deceased him .

Methven Castle

Prior to 1323, the lands of Methven belonged to a family by the name of Mowbray.  Their ancestor, Roger Mowbray, a Norman, accompanied William the Conqueror to England. “A branch of this family, “ says the Old Statistical Account, “ afterwards established itself in Scotland, and became very flourishing.”

Sir Roger Mowbray held the baronies of Kelly, Eckford, Dalmeny, and Methven,  in the shires of Forfar, Roxburgh, Linlithgow, and Perth respectively. Politics  were a delicate  matter in those far off days . The Mowbrays  adhered to the Baliol and English interest, and after Bannockburn in 1314 their lands were confiscated by Robert I aka Robert the Bruce who bestowed Eckford, Kelly, and Methven on his son-in-law, Walter, the eighth hereditary lord-high-steward of Scotland. It was his son who succeeded to the crown in 1371, as Robert II. This was in right of his mother, Marjory Bruce who was the daughter of Robert I . The Lordship of Methven was granted by him to Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, his second son, by Euphemia Ross, his second wife. After his forfeiture  in 1437, it remained within the Crown’s  jurisdiction for  some considerable time. It became part of the dowry lands usually appropriated for the maintenance of the queen-dowager of Scotland, together with the lordship and castle of Stirling, and the lands of Balquhidder, etc-, all of which were settled on Margaret, queen-dowager of James IV . In the year 1525, having divorced her second husband, Archibald, Earl of Angus, she married Henry Stewart, second son of Andrew Lord Evandale ( afterward Ochiltree ) a descendant of Robert, Duke of Albany, son of King Robert II. Margaret was the eldest daughter of Henry VII- of England, in whose right James VI- of Scotland, her great-grandson, succeeded to that crown on the death of Queen Elizabeth .

She procured for her third husband a peerage from her son, James V, under the title of Lord Methven in  1528 . On this occasion, the barony of Methven was dissolved from the Crown, and erected into a lordship, in favour of Henry Stewart and his heirs male, on the Queen's resigning her jointure of the lordship of Stirling. By Lord Methven she had a daughter, who died in infancy, before herself. The queen died at the castle of Methven in 1540, and was buried at Perth, beside the body of James I. Lord Methven afterwards married Janet Stewart, daughter of the Earl of Atholl, by whom he had a son, Henry, who married Jean, daughter of Patrick, Lord Ruthven, and was killed at Broughton by a cannon-ball from the castle of Edinburgh in 1572. He  left a son, Henry, who die without issue and accordingly the lands reverted to the Crown. This third Lord Methven is mentioned on the authority of Stewart's Genealogical Account of the House of Stewart. In 1584 the lordship of Methven and Balquhidder was conferred on Ludovick, Duke of Lennox, in whose family it continued untill it was purchased from the last Duke, in 1664, by Patrick Smythe of Braco.

 His great-grandson, David Smythe  (1746-1806), assumed the title of Lord Methven on his elevation to the bench; and his son, William (b. 1803) inherited and lived in Methven Castle . Methven Castle lies to the west of Perth and stands on elevated ground to the east of the village of Methven. This historical castle is steeped in history.

Methven Castle is first mentioned as early as 976AD. The King of Scotland, King Culen, who was crowned in 972AD, was, as a consequence of his wayward lifestyle, summoned to attend a specially convened Parliament in Scone, where it was planned that he would be deposed. However, en-route to that meeting he was slain by Cadhard, Thane of Methven, whose daughter he had reputedly de-flowered.

The Castle is not ( comparitively speaking )  that old having  been built  for the Smythes in the 1680s.  It is now  occupied  by the talented and artistic Murdoch family whose web  site tells us this lovely tale :

The Murdoch Family first took an interest in Methven Castle when, in 1953, Ken Murdoch fell off his motorbike on the sharp bends below the castle en-route to see Anna his bride-to-be who was living in St Fillans and from that time, pursued a love affair with both. However, it wasn't until March 1984 that the Murdoch Family became owners of what had then become a ruinous building.

The family are still in residence and have breathed  fresh air into a formerly decrepit pile ! Have a look at their web site  for  more intriguing apects of this incredible resoration .


My next blog  will cover the Battle of Methven and its part in establishing our  Scottish Nation .


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