Rozelle House museum and galleries
Find out what Rozelle House has to offer.
Good news! Our museums and galleries are open! Rozelle House, the Maclaurin Art Gallery and the McKechnie Institute will offer their normal opening hours and entry will remain free of charge. Visitor numbers will still be limited due to Covid restrictions so advance booking is recommended, but we can book you in on arrival if there is space in the gallery.
|Monday||10am - 5pm|
|Tuesday||10am - 5pm|
|Wednesday||10am - 5pm|
|Thursday||10am - 5pm|
|Friday||10am - 5pm|
|Saturday||10am - 5pm|
|Sunday||12noon - 5pm|
Located in picturesque Rozelle Park, Ayr, Rozelle House Museum and Galleries displays objects, artefacts and works of art from the South Ayrshire Council collections, as well as offering a changing programme of exhibitions, events and activities.
Rozelle House has been an Accredited Museum - the UK industry standard for museums and galleries - since 2003. This means we can display and exhibit South Ayrshire Council collections, as well as host exhibitions and objects on loan from other places.
Rozelle House is home to Scottish Artist Alexander Goudie's magnificent series of paintings inspired by Robert Burns' famous poem 'Tam o' Shanter'. This narrative cycle of 54 paintings was purchased by South Ayrshire Council with funding provided by the T.B. Hunter Charitable Trust, The Fraser Foundation and the Souter Foundation, and they are now part of our permanent collection. A selection of these works is on display all year; you can see all 54 works online on our Museums at home page.
Rozelle House also hosts the Ayrshire Yeomanry Museum, a small exhibition that tells the story of their history through a display of their archives, artefacts and original costume. View their history.
If you have any enquiries about Rozelle House, South Ayrshire Council's museum collections, our exhibitions and events, or if you are interested in exhibiting with us, please contact us using the telephone number or email below.
History of Rozelle
Originally, the Royal Burgh of Ayr held the land as part of the Barony of Alloway. In 1754, to reduce the Burgh debt, the Barony lands were sold for £2000, and a large part of them was purchased for £535 by Robert Hamilton of Bourtreehill. Robert was the son of Hugh Hamilton of Clongall, a merchant of Ayr. He married Jean Mitchell, a planter's widow, soon after arriving in Jamaica in 1734, and through this marriage, became co-owner of two Jamaican plantations, Pemberton Valley and La Rochelle - or Rozelle. Robert and his brother John (1702-39) lived in Jamaica as merchant-planters in Kingston. They participated in the slave trade; consigned sugar from their plantations to London and Glasgow; and conveyed provisions - Madeira wine, tallow candles, metalware and mosquito nets - by sloops from Kingston to their plantations.
In 1744, Robert Hamilton, his wife and their four daughters left Jamaica and returned to Bourtreehill, Ayrshire. In 1754, he bought the lands in Alloway, and sent his nephew John Hamilton (1739-1821) out to manage his Jamaican estates. In 1760 Robert, then a widower, married Anne Cunninghame, a widow with two sons. He had by then built his Adam style Mansion on the Alloway lands, and named it after the Rozelle plantation.
In 1763, Robert wished to retire, and Charles Montgomery, a neighbour in Ayrshire who had been a merchant in Kingston, bought the Rozelle Plantation in Jamaica for £6,000. Montgomery later sold a half share in the plantation to Hamilton's stepson, William Hunter of Mainholm, Ayrshire. When Robert Hamilton, with no male heir, died in June 1773, Rozelle plantation had 185 slaves. Another forty slaves were added by 1780.
After Robert Hamilton's death, his nephew Hugh Hamilton (1746-c.1816) took over the management of Pemberton Valley and the Rozelle Plantation. By 1776 he was established in Kingston as a Factor. He oversaw the shipment of sugar to Glasgow, Leith and London. His work in Kingston was assisted by his brother Peter. During the American War of Independence, Hugh Hamilton arranged for shipments from Jamaica to Scotland to be handled by the prominent Glasgow firm of Alexander Houstoun & Co., which had armed vessels to ward off enemy depredations. At the end of the American revolutionary war, in 1784, Hugh returned permanently to Scotland and bought Pinmore House, south of Girvan. Later he acquired the land near Rozelle which became the Belleisle Estate. Hugh's replacement in Jamaica was his second cousin, Alexander West Hamilton, the son of John Hamilton, who arrived in Jamaica in 1783 and stayed there for over thirty years. Alexander oversaw the operation of Pemberton Valley plantation, as well as acting proprietor of five other Jamaican estates. He returned to Ayrshire around 1816 and inherited Pinmore and other Ayrshire land from his second cousin Hugh, who had died without issue. In 1817 Robert Hamilton's half share in Pemberton Valley passed to his youngest daughter Eleonor (d. 1819) and her husband Hugh Montgomerie, the 12th Earl of Eglinton. The Earl succeeded to the Ayrshire estates of Bourtreehill and Rozelle when his wife died. Alexander West Hamilton still held his interest in Pemberton Valley when slaves were emancipated in the British West Indies in 1834. The plantation then had 305 slaves
Archibald Hamilton rebuilt the house in the 1830s to designs by the architect David Bryce. In 1837 Hamilton purchased the surrounding land, and in the following year the farms of Carcluie, Barrhill and Skellydub, to form a property which now extended to over 1900 acres.
By the 1960s the Hamilton family's prosperity had waned, leading to the sale of much of the surrounding land. In 1968 Rozelle House - with little of its historic interior remaining - was gifted to the Royal Burgh of Ayr, becoming the Local Authority Museum and Art Gallery. In 1975-76 the servant's quarters and stable block were converted into The Maclaurin Art Gallery with funds from the bequest of Mrs Mary Ellen Maclaurin.
Visitor accessibility and facilities
- Accessible toilet
- Lift available from ground level to upper floors
- Parking bay for disabled visitors
- Visitor parking
- Wheelchair available upon request
- Bookable meeting spaces
Rozelle House Museum and Galleries