Seeing Old Glasgow at Provand’s Lordship

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Provand’s Lordship, Glasgow, Scotland

Standing on its own, with cars rushing incredibly close to the front door, Provand’s Lordship is the self-proclaimed oldest house in Glasgow.  All of its neighbours got swept away by the ruthless renovations of 19th century city planning, but somehow this little house survived.   Taking advantage of its uniqueness, the Provand’s Lordship Society set about saving the building from an uncertain fate in the early 20th century, and it has been restored to capture the spirit of 17th century Glasgow.

The house was built as a part of the local complex with the St Nicholas Chapel and Hospital in 1471 by Andrew Muirhead, the Bishop of Glasgow.  It’s unclear who it would have housed exactly, but it’s likely that local and visiting clergy stayed there.  The clergy at the Cathedral received their financial support (or prebend) from surrounding parishes.  This house was supported by the lands of Provan which lie to the East of Glasgow, so it ended up by getting the name Provand’s Lordship.

When the Reformation hit Glasgow in 1560, the buildings around the Cathedral passed into secular hands.  Or just fell into ruin.  Like the poor Hospital and Chapel of St Nicholas. Provand’s Lordship managed to continue standing because it passed through a succession of families who looked after it.  It was owned by a tailor, a maltman, a hangman (in an adjoining lean-to), and in the 19th century it was run as an alehouse.

It had sweet final occupants – the Mortons were confectioners, who moved out of the house after the First World War.  Some of their machines are still on the ground-floor of the museum.  The rest of the house is decorated in 17th century style, with a large amount of furniture donated by Sir William Burrell, a collector who has his own museum across town.

There are three floors, each consisting of three rooms.  These form the oldest part of the building – in 1642, the textile merchant William Bryson built more rooms at the back, connected by a staircase.

Let me leave you with some images of the house.

The Herb Garden

The St Nicholas Garden is a modern reconstruction of the medieval style herb garden commonly found in ecclesiastical complexes.  There are descriptions of the flowers and their medical uses, and there were some lovely poppies.  Ah poppies.

So In Summary

As one of only four medieval buildings to have survived in Glasgow, Provand’s Lordship fulfils an important role of being a reminder of a significant period of Scotland’s history. There is a clear attempt to try and make it vivid, and in many ways it succeeds.  I’m not sure if it was just me on the day, but I didn’t actually feel it.  Still, it is worth visiting, especially on a nice day, when you can enjoy the sun in the lovely garden.

Further Information

The museum is free and being situated by the Cathedral, forms part of the St Mungo’s Cathedral triangle, which is well worth visiting when on that side of town.

There isn’t a great deal of information about Provand’s Lordship, and currently the Glasgow Museum’s joint website is being updated, so maybe it will improve.  As it is, it gives all the necessary information needed to plan a trip:

How to Get There

Local transport information is available here: while information on how to get to Glasgow via train is available via: 






  • Helen LeVinus 12th July 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I was wondering about William Bryson who was the Provands Lordship in the sixteen hundreds. Can you tell me his wife name. He may be a ancestor of mine.

    • chickpea 13th July 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Hi – I’m afraid I didn’t come across the name of his wife during my research for this post. However, I’ve just seen that someone from the Bryson family has written about the Brysons of Provands Lordship on – I can’t access it myself, but maybe that will give you more information! Sorry I can’t be more helpful.


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