History & Heritageof The Stirling Highland Hotel
Occupying a site below Stirling Castle and the Church of Holy Rude, The Stirling Highland Hotel has once been a Franciscan (or Greyfriars) Convent, founded by King James IV in 1494. The King, who died heroically at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, often did penance for his wild ways at the Greyfriars.
The Convent was demolished in 1559 during the Reformation and its teaching function was taken over by a newly-instituted grammar school, soon to become The Stirling Highland Hotel.
In 1852, Colonel Hamilton Tovey-Tennent, son-in-law of the lieutenant-governor of Stirling Castle, offered the sum of £1,000 to Stirling if it would build “an improved school house” for the town. Stirling’s old Grammar School eagerly merged with the English and Mathematical Academy, and the foundation stone was laid in 1854. The new High School of Stirling moved into its premises on this site in 1856.
Between 1886 and 1890, a new wing tower was added on Spittal Street, incorporating a sixteenth-century gateway from the remains of Stirling’s royal mint, which was embellished by astrological signs that can still be seen today. The astronomical observatory built on top was paid for by local MP and later prime minister, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and is still in working order to this day.
A New Era
Guests today do not need much imagination to recognise that the bar, with its photographs of the eight high school rectors, was once two French classrooms. Or that the function room, now known as the Art Room with its curiously stepped bay window, was originally the rector’s office. The hotel has made excellent use of the graceful double height classrooms on the ground floor, which would have seemed revolutionary in 1856, and much of the original school panelling has also been retained.