A walk in the past: the works of Tobias Bauchop

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AU Kirkgate in Alloa stands the oldest townhouse in Clackmannanshire, dating from the late 17th century – it was the home of master mason Tobias Bauchop, or Baak.

Bauchop’s birth is unknown but he was the son of Alloa stonemason Thomas Bauchop and became his father’s apprentice.

Bauchop’s earliest stand-alone recording dates from 1680 when he participated in repairs to Alloa’s former parish church, St Mungo’s.

He is then recorded as working for Sir William Bruce, known as the country’s first architect, at Kinross House and his work here influenced his later designs.

Bruce was impressed with his work and employed it on several other occasions, but he also recommended it to William Douglas, also known as William Douglas-Hamilton, 3rd Duke of Hamilton.

The Duke intended to build a beautiful house for his wife from which he took her title, but in the end Hamilton Palace was designed by James Smith.

Bauchop’s work took him as far south as Dumfries-shire and into Perthshire and Forfarshire, now Angus, while still staying put.

He helped build the old Logie Kirk in 1684 and five years later carried out work on the artillery battery and the James V Palace at Stirling Castle.

It is reported that in 1690 he was back in Alloa to work on projects such as the Bank Street Market Cross, commissioned by John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, and in 1695 he completed his house at 25 Kirkgate , also known as the Star House.

His initials and those of his wife Margaret Lapsley, whom he had married on February 8, 1684, appear, as was customary at the time, above the door in a garlanded shield.

Originally a symmetrical two-story L-shaped building, at first glance it looks simple but on closer inspection it has many classic details, showing the fine work done by its master mason.

Its most striking feature is its protruding sundial. The sundial stand has been said to represent the devil because Bauchop chose to leave the established church, but is in fact a mere grotesque human head, common in many buildings.

Built in finely pointed ashlar with traditional toothed gables, it has stood the test of time and bears witness to the mason of Alloa.

A year later he made modifications for James Ogilvy, 2nd Earl of Airlie, at Cortachy Castle near Kirriemuir, and enlarged the Kinloch house in Meigle in 1697. The contract for Kinloch was attested to by his senior assistant and architect Alexander Edward.

Tobias Bauchop’s house in Alloa

IN 1705, the works of Bauchop take him to Dumfries where he works at the town hall and at the bell tower.

It was not his project, but that of the architect and builder John Moffat of Liverpool who had retired. At this time, Bauchop’s reputation for “good skill” was growing.

The town committee “resolved to send for a certain Tobias Bachup, a builder now in Abercorn … who would be of good skill”.

Abercorn was where he helped build Hopetoun House for Charles Hope, as Hope was a client of William Bruce.

As such, Bauchop was credited as being the architect of the town hall and bell tower, and although he claimed to have spent six weeks working there, he simply executed Moffat’s design.

His last recorded work was for James Graham, the 1st Duke of Montrose when, in 1708, he “gave advice” regarding his house in the Drygate in Glasgow.

Bauchop died on April 26, 1710. At the time, he was working again at Stirling Castle, inserting an upper story into the Great Hall which was to be used as barracks accommodation.

He was also in the process of building a new staircase at the northwest corner of the palace, but this was never completed after his death.

Eight years earlier he had made plans for the rebuilding of a mansion for Sir John Shaw of Greenock, but, again, he was dead before the plans could be executed.

The house he built in Alloa remained with his family until it was sold to a captain in the mid-18th century.

Between 1762 and 1786 it was used as a parish hall for the Church of the Seceders. Over a century later, the house has been remodeled to accommodate a boutique with a modification of the L-shaped layout somewhere between the 19th and 20th centuries.

The easternmost ground floor window was altered and additions were made to the rear of the building which led to a courtyard and there remained remains of a walkway.

The house fell into disrepair to such an extent that it was almost in ruins, but was restored at the end of the 20th century with help from the National Trust for Scotland and the Clackmannan District Council.

It was Category A listed by what is now Historic Environment Scotland on June 9, 1960.

Bauchop will be best remembered for his work at Kinross House, Hopetoun House and Craigiehall, a large villa in Crammond near Edinburgh, which was further designed by Bauchop’s friend William Bruce for William Johnstone, 2nd Earl of ‘Annandale.


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