Menstrie Castle is a three-storey manor house was built around 1560 by the Alexander family, a branch of the Clan MacAlister. Sir William Alexander was born here around 1577, and later became known as a poet. He gained a place in the Royal Household of James VI, eventually becoming a member of the Privy Council of Scotland in 1615, Principal Secretary of State in 1626, and Earl of Stirling in 1633.
In 1621, he was appointed governor of Nova Scotia, an area of North America including the modern Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and the Gaspé Peninsula. In order to populate his territory, the Baronetage of Nova Scotia was devised in 1624, whereby Baronetcies were sold to support colonists. The scheme was a financial failure, and in 1632 Nova Scotia was returned to the French, who had claimed the area originally. Alexander died bankrupt in London in 1644.
Menstrie Castle was burned by the Royalist James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose in 1645, during the English Civil War. It was sold to James Holborne of Menstrie in 1648. A major general in the Scottish army, Holborne had a chequered career during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. An additional property, named Windsor House, and now demolished, was once situated opposite Menstrie Castle, to serve as a second laird's house. In 1719, most of the Menstrie estate was sold on, but the Holborne family kept the smaller house, probably as a dower house. A stone heraldic panel, from over the door of the demolished house, was preserved, and later built into the gable-end of the residential home now standing on the site. The motto DECUS MEUM VIRTUS is still legible, but differs from the motto on the Holborne family crest (Decus Summum Virtus, roughly translated as 'Virtue, the Chief Ornament'). The last surviving heir of the Holborne family of Menstrie was a Miss Mary Anne Holborne of Bath, daughter of the 5th Baronet, who left an endowment of £8000 in 1882, for the church of Menstrie.
The castle was purchased by George Abercromby of Tullibody in 1719, and his family held the estate until 1924, although the buildings had begun to deteriorate from around 1750. George's son, Ralph Abercromby, who became a major British military hero, was born here in 1734. The family moved from the castle around 1740 to Tullibody House, and the castle was left empty.
By the end of the Second World War, the castle was in such disrepair that the Scottish actor and conservationist, Moultrie Kelsall, led a campaign to secure funding and protection to aid its restoration.
The building was restored by Clackmannanshire County Council, under the guidance of county architect William Higgins Henry (1905-1984), winning a Scottish Civic Trust award for restoration in 1962 (plaqued). The building was converted into four flats and a courtyard of new houses created to the east side. By 1964 the restoration was completed.
Originally a small, L-plan tower house, the castle was extended in the 17th century into a U-plan house. A section of curtain wall closes the U, forming a courtyard. Two rooms within the castle are occupied by an exhibition commemorating the link between Menstrie, William Alexander, and Nova Scotia. One of the rooms is decorated with the arms of all the Baronets of Nova Scotia. These rooms are managed by the National Trust for Scotland.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.