Our curiosity sparked by a lecture on David Livingstone, 25 guides visited the Centre on Saturday 16th November. After admiring the Ray Harryhausen sculpture of Livingstone being attacked by a lion, we were taken round by extremely knowledgeable Centre guides.
Did you know that Livingstone travelled over 30,000 miles in his African journeys? Or that he grew up speaking Gaelic as his grandmother didn’t speak English? Or that his father became a travelling tea salesman? Or that when his African friends brought his body back to the UK his identity was confirmed by comparing his arm with a cast taken of the poorly healed fracture to his arm when he was attacked by the lion? The visit was fascinating and we all felt we would have to return to take in more of Livingstone’s life both in Blantyre and Africa.
We then moved into Hamilton to visit the Old Parish Church, the only church ever built by William Adam, a beautiful building in the unusual form of a Greek cross dating from 1734. There the Session Clerk gave us a history of the building and its life, including a view from the vestry window where the minister would wait to see the Duke’s carriage leaving Hamilton Palace to know when to start the service!
Outside in the graveyard we viewed two memorials to Covenanters executed after the uprising of 1666, and after the battle at Bothwell Bridge in 1679, as well as an unusual early stone cross believed to date from the 900s AD with a range of strange designs and figural carvings.
In the afternoon we visited the Low Parks Museum, consisting of the oldest building in Hamilton designed by James Smith in 1693, the nineteenth century Assembly Room added behind it, and the Duke’s Riding School, all of which form a museum for the town and the Cameronians ( Scottish Rifles) Regiment which disbanded in 1968.
For a finale we were given an informative and entertaining tour by museum staff of the Hamilton Mausoleum, built for the 10th Duke Alexander ‘ El Magnifico’ in 1842 , where he and previous family members were entombed until the building and grounds were gifted to Hamilton Town Council in 1921.
As many of the group mentioned – so many interesting sights we had not known enough about until now!