For decades Pollok House and the surrounding gardens and country park has been a hideaway in the heart of Glasgow’s south side. An island of calm between the nearby M77 and Shawlands, this dear green place makes you feel a million miles removed from the bustle and noise of the city.

It is fitting that this stately home was the place where plans were put in place to form Scotland’s national conservation charity, one which protects and cares for Pollok today as well as a host of other castles, houses and locations across the country.

It was here, in the cedar panelled smoking room, that Sir John Maxwell convened a meeting which ultimately led to the creation of the National Trust for Scotland.

And while the Trust was one of his greatest legacies, his influence is evident across Glasgow’s south side, in the playing fields and public parks he gifted to the city – with the guarantee that they would be open to visitors in perpetuity.

“This was Sir John’s intention when he gave it to the city,” explained Alexis McCluskey, visitor services manager at Pollok House. “He had so many stipulations written in, protecting the house and surrounding area, ensuring it stayed like this. It is something unique, this sprawling country house and its surrounding gardens all in the heart of a city. You can walk in here and forget that it is out there.”

Remarkably the Maxwell family called this area home for 700 years, and before the house was built in 1752 and began to take its current shape in 1890, when Sir John employed Robert Rowan Anderson for a grand re-design, there had been no fewer than three castles built at different locations within the grounds.

The house today is a treasure trove, one of the National Trust for Scotland’s grandest properties, boasting an impressive collection of Spanish art and works by Henry Raeburn, one of the first and great Scottish portrait painters and Glasgow Boy and realist, James Guthrie.

More than that, Pollok is a snapshot of the Maxwell family. The house and that story changes with the season, bringing new and unmissable highlights for every visitor.

A country garden

“People should come here four times a year and see the changing of the seasons,” said Alexis. “It’s incredible to see how different the gardens are at different times of the year. We are coming into autumn now and when you are here in late September the trees are this beautiful golden colour and the house has this scarlet ivy. It looks incredible. We also have the fairy garden – there is so much for people to see and do here.”

Step back in time

If you would really like to experience what Pollok was like through the ages, the guided tours at 11am and 3pm – which are included in the entry price – are unmissable. Delivered with wit and passion by expert staff, they tell the stories of rooms, objects and, most importantly, the people who called Pollok home.

Doors Open Day

One of the biggest weekends on the Glasgow calendar, and on September 21 and 22 Pollok is one of the properties which throws its doors open and invites everyone in, free of charge. And this year they are also offering a guided walking tour of the park. Book through the Doors Open Day website as soon as possible – it will be a sell-out.

Costume Sunday

September 29 is another big day at Pollok, where the staff will be in their element, wearing clothes from the Victorian and Edwardian eras and the 1930s. Costume Sunday helps bring history and the house to life. Expect a theatrical touch to the tours.

Christmas Ghost Stories

There could hardly be a better setting for this Victorian Christmas tradition. Wrapped up cosy in the dining room for readings of classic ghost stories, one visit and it will soon be a fixture on your festive calendar.


Who doesn’t love a Christmas panto? Well, this is a show with a difference, with the entire show going on in the servant’s hall. The room only holds 40 people, so it is a completely different experience from panto in the theatre. Shows, brought to you by Fizzgig Theatre, are Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 December at 11am and 2.30pm each day.

Mrs Claus

Some venues have Santa, Pollok receives a different visitor at Christmas time. For decades now Mrs Claus has been visiting the south side of Glasgow throughout December and helping her husband and the elves, who are frantically trying to get everything ready for their Christmas Eve deadline. A smash hit amongst families, people go back year on year.

Pollok is cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, the conservation charity which cares for eight national nature reserves, 38 gardens and landscapes, 46 Munros, 400 islands and inlets, 26 castles and great houses and thousands of precious artefacts. You can support their work by visiting or by joining as a member at