Mungal House

It was around the time that Alexander Sword built Mungalhead House in 1766 that Michael Ramsay built Mungal House.  It was located towards the south-west corner of Over Mungal on rising ground that gave it an excellent view to the north and west.  Curiously the house faced west.  The reason for this may have been to hide views of the hamlet of Mungal that lay immediately to the north.  It was a relatively simple rectangular building with three symmetrical bays.  The central doorway had a pediment set on pilasters.  The lintel of the pediment was on the same level as a plain string course which incorporated the lintels of the ground-floor windows.  The two small dormer windows were set slightly off from those below and sat on the plain eaves course – the height of the wall between the first-floor windows and the eaves course reflecting the presence of the attic rooms.  The skews at either end of the slated roof were also plain.

To the south of the house a capacious walled garden was laid out on the slightly south-facing slope.  Moves were now begun to buy up the feus of the hamlet so that that area could be incorporated into the designed landscape.

Illus 2: Extract from the Ordnance Survey Map of 1861 (National Library of Scotland).

Shortly thereafter news of a much greater disruption to the landscape appeared.  Construction of an inland navigation from the Forth to the Clyde had been much debated but now surveyors appeared on the ground and the route favoured took it in close proximity to the new house.  Construction work began in 1768 and water was let into this stretch in 1772.  At a meeting of the Commissioners of Supply of the county of Stirling held on the 21 January 1772 at Falkirk, they, upon the application of Michael Ramsay of Mungal and John Henderson of Burnhouse, appointed a general meeting of the Commissioners upon the grounds of the lands belonging to those two gentlemen for ascertaining the value of those lands occupied by the Forth and Clyde Navigation.  They also considered the damages and inconveniences incurred by the proprietors and tenants (Caledonian Mercury 1 February 1772).  At the insistence of Michael Ramsay a tall stone boundary wall had to be erected by the Canal Company along the section of the towpath that passed the walled garden. 

Michael Ramsay died c1775 and the Mungal estate was run by his trustees who included John Monro of Auchenbowie and David Paterson of Bannockburn.  His nephew, Michael Ramsay, was named as heir to the estate.  This Michael Ramsay was the son of Alexander Ramsay, postmaster in Falkirk.

Illus 3: Map showing the impact of feuing on to development of Bainsford.

Writing in 1777 Nimmo was able to say:

The canal hath already made a visible alteration upon the face of the country through which it passeth.  Dwelling houses and granaries are erected in sundry places upon its banks; as also brick-works, and yards for the sale of foreign timber; boats for the navigation have been built upon the brink of it; the adjacent fields begin to be enclosed and better cultivated, and the bustle of trade gives an enlivening aspect to several places which were formerly quite desert and lonely.”   

Michael Ramsay took the opportunity to make investments in canal-side activities.  These included a large granary which was built at Bankside, part of his lands at Mungalend, and a ropeworks near Bainsford Bridge.  To this end the lands at Longdales, Lethandy, Broomyknow and Mungal Mill was used as security to obtain loans.


More cash was raised by the sale of other parts of the Lands of Mungal:

“The Lands of GUILDY BUTTS, consisting of 27 acres or thereby; and also, part of the Lands of OLD MUNGALHEAD, consisting of about 11 acres; and likewise about an acre and a half opposite to Mungal House, lying along the south side of the Canal.  These lands lie between the great Canal and Carron Works, are of an exceeding fine soil, and from their situation may be turned to various advantageous purposes.  They will be sold separately, or each of them in different lots, as purchasers shall incline.  And as the Lands are out of lease, the purchasers may enter to the natural possession at the term of Martinmas next.

The articles of roup and plans of the grounds, and of the different lots into which they may be divided, to be seen in the hands of Michael and Alexander Ramsay merchants at Carronshore; to either of whom any person inclining to make a private bargain before the sale, for all or any part of the lands, may apply.”

(Caledonian Mercury 30 May 1774).

The sum realised was not sufficient and so the following year Mungal House was also put up for sale:

“To be sold together, or in separate parcels, The Lands and estate of Mungal, held of a subject superior, lying on the north side of the Great Canal, and within half a mile of the town of Falkirk, inclosed, and mostly subdivided with ditch and hedge; the hedges in a thriving condition – the free rent, after all deductions, is L.355:14:4 Sterling.  There is a genteel new house on the estate, with convenient offices, and an excellent kitchen garden adjoining to them.

The situation of this estate is most favourable, upon a rising ground along the side of the Carse, and is a dry fertile soil.  The house commands an extensive prospect of the whole Carses and country to the east and west, and has always been accounted one of the most beautiful as well as healthful situations in that fine country.

The rental, tacks, title-deeds, and plan of the estate, to be seen in the hands of Alexander Cunnynghame one of the clerks to the signet, who has powers to sell.

Michael and Alexander Ramsays merchants in Falkirk, will show the estate, and explain all particulars relative to it.”

(Caledonian Mercury 16 January 1775, 4).

The gardens included the pigeon house. 

G.B. Bailey, 2023