Laurelhill House and the West Indies

Demolished in in the 1950s, we examine the history of Laurelhill House as part of Black History Month.

In the 19th century, many large mansion houses were erected by Stirling’s prosperous inhabitants. Mount Pleasant, whose name was later changed to Laurelhill, sat within large partially wooded grounds and was situated near the King's Park at the junction of the roads to Torbrex and Cambusbarron. It was built in 1806 for James Duthie, a wealthy West India Merchant who named it Mount Pleasant. Mount Pleasant was a common name given to West Indian plantations by their owners. As a West Indian Merchant, Duthie would have been involved in the sale and transportation of goods like sugar, indigo, coffee and rice grown on plantations using slave labour.

Laurelhill was described in 1950 by the Royal Commission of Ancient and Historic Monuments as ‘typical of the Georgian period’, but the interior was apparently ‘of no special interest’, despite containing ‘fireplaces in the Adam manner, some of wood and others of marble’.

Duthie died in 1818 at Melville Terrace in Stirling, and although the house was inhabited by a succession of families, it was eventually demolished after 1950, and now Laurelhill Business Park sits where it stood. Some of the woodland which formed part of the grounds has survived and can be accessed through Laurelhill Gardens. 

Laurelhill House by Jane Anne Wright

Laurelhill House by Jane Anne Wright

Courtesy of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum

About the Artist

This watercolour of the house was painted between 1890-1900 by Jane Anne Wright. Wright painted a number of grand houses in Stirlingshire, you can view them online on the Art UK website. Wright was one of three sisters, born in to a wealthy family in Glasgow 1842, she grew up on St. Vincent Street in the city centre. Her family died in 1860 and the family moved to 7 Park Terrace in Stirling. In 1887 they moved again to 26 Victoria Place. Wright was disabled after a childhood accident which limited her mobility, but she was eventually given a pony and trap which allowed her to travel locally and create her paintings. She never married and died in 1922. She is buried in Stirling’s Valley cemetery alongside her mother and her sister Isabella.

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