The launch of the Trail

Glebe is land owned by a church for the minister to use to provide part of his income. Originally the minister of Killearn lived at the Kirkhouse, on Main Street. The glebe (Kirklands) then covered land between what is now Gartaneaglais and the Glen. A new manse was built behind the Buchanan Monument in 1825. It incorporated a smaller building from 1815. A red sandstone block, dated 1671, once most likely the keystone of an arch, has been built into the stables. The new manse was close to the new kirk (now the Village Hall) that was completed in 1826. Land for the manse, the new kirk and the Glebe were acquired from John Blackburn of Killearn House. Part of the land had been used as a quarry. The Glebe now covers two fields sloping down towards Station Road.

After the Second World War, the Killearn Trust considered the view from the top of the Glebe was such a feature of the village that it wished to ensure that it remained open space. Through the generosity of Gilbert Innes, the Chairman of the Trust and Mr Cormack of Dunkyan, one of the large houses on Station Road, the Trust completed the acquisition of the Glebe from the Church of Scotland for £2,250 in 1946. The Glebe continues to be used for sheep grazing and for special village events.

When Sir William Burrell donated his art collection to the City of Glasgow in 1944, he stipulated that it should be housed in a building no more than four miles for Killearn. He was particularly concerned that the polluted air of Glasgow would damage his collection. There were rumours that a possible site was the Glebe. However, the Burrell Trustees were only considering adapting a local house at that time, so there was no substance to the story. Many local houses were rejected, among them Carbeth, Balfunning, Balindalloch (Balfron), Finnich Malaise (near Drymen), Buchanan Castle, Duntreath Castle, and, closer to Glasgow, Mugdock Castle and Dougalston House.

After years of debate and a court ruling that removed the stipulation that the collection be housed within four miles of Killearn, it finally opened in a purpose-built gallery in Pollock Park on the south side of Glasgow in 1983, 25 years after the death of Sir William.

Burrell had no notable connection to Killearn, but he did know about the village. Alexander Reid was the Glasgow art dealer through whom Burrell bought many French impressionist paintings. Reid spent his last three years up to his death in 1928 at Lettre Cottage, on the road to Strathblane. Burrell visited him there. In 1886 Reid shared a studio in Paris with Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh’s portrait of Reid is one of the treasures of the Kelvingrove Museum.