Our History

Ernespie House Hotel, Castle Douglas

The hotel was called the Emespie House Hotel until 1990 when it was changed to The Urr Valley. We have changed the name back to the Ernespie house hotel as we felt that it was important to reflect the history of a house that has been an integral part of the history of Stewartry. It was converted into a hotel around1947 from a private residence. The surrounding lands, farm and cottages originally were one estate with the house (now the Hotel) being the main residence.

Over the years property and land was disposed of leaving mainly the farm (situated along the side of the hotel) and the house.
Other cottages such as the lodge at the bottom of the drive were purchased privately. It is interesting to see how many properties in proximity to the house carry the same name Ernespie or something similar which would have formed part of the original estate.

We believe the house would have been built around 1700 and records show that the land previously formed part of confiscated church property. Afterwards it was part of the barony of Cross Michael created by King James VIth and granted to the Gordons of Lochinvarin1621. Until l799 the history is a little unclear when we find Peter Lawrie as the owner. There is no mention of his wife but of his daughter who in 1817 married John Mackie of Bargally, MP for the Stewartry. His son, James succeeded to Emespie and died here suddenly in 1867. He was then succeeded by his eldest son John. We have at present no information between 1867 and 1947. We have no means of tracing the name of this property prior to 1600. It was then spelled 'Erinsbie' and is not shown as Ernespie until 1733. The name in either form seems to be Norse and we believe the standing stones in the field opposite has some relevance to this. They are either the original entrance stones to a settlement 'or burial stones.

Another interesting feature is a very large burial stone beneath the beech tree on the top lawn, it is dedicated to 'Oscar' a faithful dog dated 1809.

The round tower at the rear of the hotel is a Dovecot. Used to rear doves for food and for egg. Some large houses in the area that began to produce their own gas for the house would use the dovecot to store the boiler, however, this is not the case here. Above the Dovecot is another tower, this being the water tower for the house and still is for the hotel today although the water is now mains fed into a large tank within the tower. The hotel or house has been changed on several occasions. In the foyer you will see a picture taken in 1906 of the front of the house. Several steps up to the front door prove the reason for the half covered windows seen today. The front has obviously been raised at some point for whatever reason. Stables and coach house in the courtyard are now cottages. The small kitchen which is not being used currently was the original Chapel, the bar was the dining room and the dining room was a Sunday School. The east wing of the hotel was staff quarters and only a small part of the function room is original.

As per the Scottish Jewish Archives centre after the war broke out in 1939 many Glaswegian children were evacuated to the country areas because of the risk of German bombing raids in the cities. Jewish children, including refugees were evacuated to Skelmorlie in Ayrshire or Ernes pie house at Castle Douglas.


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