For some time now, we have been toying with adding “William Wallace” into the final name for our buildings. Originally, I thought of calling the finished project, “The William Wallace Community & Events Centre” – but the locals like the Barony St. John name and it is after all a historical name so perhaps we could name a part of the building “The William Wallace Visitor Centre”.
The idea of adding William Wallace was because I wanted to bring public awareness to the history of Ardrossan;
In 1292, Ardrossan Castle, just behind our Barony St John buildings, fell to the invading English army of Edward I.
In 1296, legend has it that Wallace and his men set fire to some buildings near the Castle and a small party of English soldiers left the Castle to investigate. They were immediately set upon by Wallace’s men who dressed in their uniforms and armour and went back to the Castle. once there, they opened the Castle gates to let in the rest of Wallace’s men.
The entire English garrison were slaughtered and their bodies were thrown down into the castle’s keep which became known locally as “Wallace’s Larder”. So successful was this ruse and raid that the ghost of William Wallace is said to still wander through the Castle ruins.
The current courtyard between our two Barony St. John buildings (the church and the hall) is 1,122 sq ft and extends outwards to almost level with the church building. I’m hoping this area will become the main entrance to both buildings and incorporate The William Wallace Visitor Centre.
The current breezeblock storeroom, crèche building and wall (photographed opposite) will be removed opening up this courtyard area and allowing it to be glazed and extended to 20m x 5m coming level with the church building.
This area will then form the reception area and main entrance to the Centre as well as being the site for our cafe (which we intend to name after the Keep at Ardrossan Castle – “Wallace’s Larder”).
When Wallace was captured at Robroyston on 5th August 1305, he had on his person letters of provenance and safe conduct.
One letter is known as the ‘Safe Conduct’ or ‘Wallace Letter’ and was from the King of France, Philip IV (this letter included an introduction of Wallace to Pope Boniface VIII).
Another letter is known as ‘The Lubeck Letter’ (named after the German museum where it was stored) and is the only surviving document believed to be written by Wallace himself. Attached to this letter is Wallace’s personal seal which shows a lion rampant on the front and s strung bow with arrow on the reverse, suggesting that Wallace may have been an archer. The seal also has the words “Filius Alani Walais Willelmus” which is Latin for “William, son of Alan Wallace” around it and as Alan Wallace was registered as a Crown tenant in Ellerslie, Ayrshire in 1296, this seal throws doubt on William’s traditional birthplace of Elderslie in Renfrewshire.
Perhaps it was just a spelling mistake in Blind Harry’s famous 15th Century poem about Wallace?
The Society of William Wallace are offering to give us the only two copies of these documents for display in our Visitor Centre / reception area (permission has to be obtained from Fiona Hyslop, The Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs however The Society of William Wallace will do this for us).
We also plan to get a replica of the sword which was said to be taken from him at the time of his capture (the original is displayed in The Wallace Monument) and we feel that the three of these items along with historical story boards detailing Wallace’s connection with the Castle will provide an excellent additional tourist attraction to the Centre and help drive additional secondary spend via our cafe.
What do you think of our plans?