Hamilton Palace 1916

History of Hamilton

History of Hamilton is closely connected to the Hamilton family. The later played an important role in its creation, gave it its name and built the most famous landmarks in the town although not all of them survived until the present-day. Nevertheless, monuments that did survive testify about the historic connection of the town with the Hamilton family.

What is today the town of Hamilton was originally called Cadzow which became closely connected with the House of Hamilton in the 14th century. Sir Water fitz Gilbert of Cadzow held the Bothwell Castle for the English and was initially on the English side during the Wars of Scottish Independence. However, he later changed sides and in return for his support to Robert the Bruce, he was given the lands of Dalserf and Cadzow which would become the town of Hamilton in the mid-15th century when James, 1st Lord of Hamilton received a burgh charter. The Hamilton family then moved closer to the town from the Cadzow Castle but it was not until the late 17th century when the family built the impressive Hamilton Palace that served as the family’s residence until the early 20th century.

The Hamilton Palace became one of the most splendid non-royal residences in Scotland after Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton built the monumental North Front in the mid-19th century. The 10th Duke of Hamilton also built the monumental Hamilton Mausoleum to serve as the final resting place for his family members. The duke passed away before the mausoleum was completed but his remains along with the remains of 17 of his ancestors were interred in the mausoleum after its completion in 1858. However, all the coffins were removed from the mausoleum after a flooding and problems with subsidence of the structure. The 10th Duke of Hamilton and his ancestors were buried in the Hamilton’s Bent Cemetery.

In contrary to the Hamilton Mausoleum which has become one of the symbols of the town of Hamilton, the Hamilton Palace is completely gone. The Hamilton family decided to demolish it in 1921 due to subsidence that was caused by mining beneath the palace. The site of the former palace is today the Hamilton Palace Sports Grounds, while the palace’s grounds were mostly incorporated into the Strathclyde Country Park. Thus the Hamilton Mausoleum remains the only structure that testifies about the role the Hamilton family played in the town’s history. The Cadzow Castle, the original residence of the Hamilton family is in ruins as well. It was destroyed in the late 16th century in retaliation to the family for providing a retreat to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Several notable historic buildings remained beautifully preserved besides the famous mausoleum. The greatest architectural treasures of the town are the early 20th century Hamilton Town House, the building of the Low Parks Museum which dates to the 16th century and the Hamilton Old Parish Church which was built in the 1730s by the celebrated Scottish architect William Adam.