Hamilton is a town with about 50,000 inhabitants who mostly work for the local government or service industry. The town is located 19 kilometres from Glasgow and 35 kilometres from Edinburgh in South Lanarkshire on the south bank of the River Clyde in the west-central Lowlands of Scotland. Hamilton is closely connected with the Hamilton family which was not named after the town but the other way around. The family, on the other hand, was named after their place of origin – Homeldone or Homildon which changed into Hamilton at the time of the 3rd Laird of Cadzow, David Hamilton of Cadzow (ca. 1333- ca. 1392) when the use of the family name Hamilton was recorded for the first time in history.
The Hamilton family rose to prominence during the Wars of Scottish Independence when Walter fitz Gilbert of Cadzow joined Robert the Bruce against the English. For his support to the Scots, he was rewarded with the lands in Cadzow that became the core of the future town of Hamilton. The town was formally established in the mid-15th century when it was also renamed Hamilton after its founders who moved closer to the town. At the end of the 17th century, the Hamilton family built a new residence in what is today the Strathclyde Park which became one of the finest country houses in Scotland. The so-called Hamilton Palace was modified and extended several times over the following centuries, while the most notable alteration was made in the mid-19th century when Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton finally built the North Front which was planned already by James, 5th Duke of Hamilton in the first half of the 17th century.
Unfortunately, the Hamilton Palace did not remain preserved. Not even a trace remains of the splendid residence of the Dukes of Hamilton as the family decided to demolish it in the early 1920s. Formally, they have decided for its demolition due to subsidence but there has been a lot of speculations about the real reasons for the family’s decision. The Hamilton family sold their art collection already in the late 19th century to improve their financial situation and by the early 20th century, the grand palace may have become too severe financial burden. In addition, the early 20th century was the time of large scale destructions of country houses throughout Britain. But despite the fact that the Hamilton Palace is gone, the legacy of the Hamilton family in the town of Hamilton did not vanish completely. On the contrary, the Hamilton Mausoleum that was built to be the final resting place of the family remains beautifully preserved and is the top attraction of the town.
In addition to being home to a number of exciting historic sites which are attracting more visitors each year, the town of Hamilton is also a home to a wealth of modern shops, restaurants and night clubs, while the Hamilton Park Racecourse is a popular house racing venue since 1926. Hamilton may be a small town but its attractions can easily compete with those of large Scotland’s cities.