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Credit - Mark Leslie
Credit - Mark Leslie

Bannockburn House volunteers win the battle to keep community spirit alive!

14 February 2022

The Bannockburn House project currently has 200 active volunteers involved in several thematic groups, including construction, garden, retail, and events. Although the pandemic has brought uncertainty to the development, making it harder for volunteers to meet, the spirit and determination of the Bannockburn community never ceases – amid challenging times, Bannockburn House Trust (BHT) began interacting with volunteers and the public online, hosting seminars, quizzes, community support mornings, and screening videos and films to keep everyone connected and up to date with the project.


BHT and its volunteers also used their unwavering spirit to help those in need during the pandemic, distributing 1500kgs of food, grown by the Trust themselves, to vulnerable people in the local community.

More recently, the volunteers dressed up and were inserted into historical images within the house as digital paintings. These striking images, taken by Mark Leslie, display their enthusiasm and passion for the building’s heritage and its bright future, and are a unique way to celebrate and reward these dedicated supporters!

Bannockburn House is a Category A-listed mansion with a long and rich history, including in 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie briefly stayed and dined in the building, later using it as his headquarters during the siege of Stirling and the battle of Falkirk.

When the house was put up for sale in 2016, BHT was formed with an aim to purchase the building and its grounds for the local community - they feared that it would be demolished or left to ruin, thus losing its unique history. Having completed one of the biggest community buyouts in the UK, the Trust has since received support from the Architectural Heritage Fund to help restore the mansion and its estate into a community-run social enterprise and visitor attraction. 


The AHF has supported Bannockburn House Trust since 2017, with Historic Environment Scotland supported development grants helping the Trust to build its capacity to deliver a unique and complex project. A further grant in 2021 supports the professional fee costs involved in developing the coach house range as phase 1 of the larger project.

From organising the biggest community buyout in the UK, to keeping spirits alive amid uncertain times, BHT and its volunteers have built and maintained a strong sense of community, something that will be further emphasised when Bannockburn House and gardens is restored as an integrated and valuable community resource.

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Jim Bennett, Chief Executive Officer at Bannockburn House Trust, said:

“In 2017, after several hundred years of private ownership, the local community fought a fierce battle to take control of Bannockburn House. Local volunteers now provide direction, as well as maintain and care for the House and estate. On discovering Bannockburn House, Mark Leslie began to photograph the historic interior and developed a strong relationship with volunteers - his portraits show how the local people of Bannockburn are now key to the life of Bannockburn House. The images which he experimented with were very strongly influenced by both the personas of the volunteers and also the historic nature of Bannockburn House itself.”

Mark Leslie, Photographer, said:

“Sitting for a portrait is something we normally associate with royals or dignitaries, but for me the real VIPs are ordinary, hard-working people; the volunteers of Bannockburn House.”


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