General view from south, 1997
Standing uncomfortably close to the east
quarter of Hamilton Palace, the medieval collegiate church founded
by the 1st Lord Hamilton in 1451 continued in use after the Reformation
in 1560 as the local parish church and burial-ground. By 1672 Duchess
Anne (1632-1716) had secured the right of appointment to the
church, and planned to build a new church next to the new school
which she had had erected in the 'Hietoun'. However, it was not
until 1732 that the 5th Duke of Hamilton
(1703-43) actually had a new parish church built, up the slope
beyond the 'Hietoun' about 0.4km south-west of the palace. For its
design he commissioned the architect, William Adam (1689-1748),
who was also currently engaged on work for him at Ch‚telherault.
The only church known to have been designed by
William Adam, what is now known as Hamilton Old Parish Church is
laid out on a radial plan with four wings or aisles, in the overall
shape of a stub-armed cross. The south aisle, seen here (left),
originally contained the duke's loft and retiring room with its
own private entrance. The larger north wing, surmounted by the staged
tower and steeple, accommodates the session house and is entered
by a grand colonnaded portico. The layout and detailing clearly
owes much to the designs for circular churches produced by the architect
James Gibbs (c.1674-1754) in his then recent and hugely influential
Book of Architecture (1728).
This parish church occupied the site of a former
horse market, then well outside the area of the 'Hietoun' settlement.
Land on each side of the narrow path to it was developed from 1751
onwards, leading to the creation of Church Street and thereby further
encouraging urban settlement up the hill away from the immediate
vicinity of the palace. The medieval church was subsequently largely
demolished with the exception of the east end and the attached aisle
which served as the burial place of the ducal family.