LOST MURALS IN THE RESIDENTIAL WING
The painted work at Kinneil was not confined to the two rooms at the east end of the first floor of the residential wing, now known as the Parable and Arbour Rooms. In the outer chamber (inner hall) there are indications of sixteenth century work underlying later coatings of wall plaster.
During the 1926 visit of the RCAHMS to Kinneil House a photograph was taken of excellent 16th century work in red distemper similar to that of the dado in the Arbour Room. It decorated the upper part of the west wall of the south room on the second floor, but was destroyed when the building was dismantled in 1936. This floor would have been occupied by the lady of the house, Margaret Douglas, and the arrangements would probably have mirrored those of the Duke of Chatelherault on the floor below. The photograph shows the squared and pegged roof timbers which are of small section but closely spaced, suggesting that they were probably used for fixing a painted timber ceiling. If so it was a high ceiling commensurate with the great status of the occupant.
A few fragments of sixteenth century ceiling boards were fortunately recovered from the “lumber” collected for burning by the contractor on that occasion, but others had already gone to the fire. These are now exhibited in the room above the Arbour Room. It is possible that some of the painted ceiling timbers came from the room to the east of the Arbour Room which has been identified as a chapel by Addyman on account of evidence for a vaulted wooden ceiling there. Such painted vaults are known elsewhere and can be seen at Culross Palace.
The similarity in style of the surviving pieces suggests that there was a unified design for Kinneil House when it was first built. This extended to the huge Armorial stone that fronted the building.
|RCAHMS||1929||Inventory of Monuments in West Lothian|