Legends at Cowane's Café now open 10am-4pm daily along with the free John Cowane Exhibition and Guild Hall

Queen Mary’s Palace Appeal

Queen Mary’s Palace Appeal


John Cowane’s House is a category A listed building, and one of the last remaining significant historic structures within Stirling Old Town for which no ‘new’ life and purpose has yet been identified.

Fondly known and referred to by locals in Stirling as ‘Queen Mary’s Palace’, the project forms part of Stirling Council’s Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS), which is funded by Historic Scotland and Stirling Council.

The building is of significant historic and architectural interest and offers great potential. Situated on an important route between Stirling Castle and Stirling Old Bridge, it is a building which ought to be an asset to Stirling’s heritage offering for visitors and locals, but which has been locked up and unused for many decades.

The building represents an opportunity to interpret the story of Stirling’s history of trade, the merchant’s classes, and their way of life. Its restoration as a ruin, with effective interpretation and development of the garden as a feature would add a new dimension to the visitor offering in Stirling by providing a free-entry attraction managed and guided by community volunteers.

The Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) project proposes contributing funding for structural and repair works to stabilise the ruin and allow works to improve access and safe circulation within the building.

In addition, the insertion of an elevated multi-purpose mezzanine level will allow the creation of two new ‘spaces’ within the building and facilitate improved access and use of the garden. The garden at the rear will function as a community garden and a cohort of local volunteers will be trained to act as guides to visitors. A programme of garden maintenance will also be undertaken by volunteers.

The project will develop as a community led heritage regeneration project focused on the house and its garden. Creative lighting of the building’s interior elevations using projection lighting and audio will recreate the historic character of a sixteenth century merchant’s house.

 Our Aim

Our project will involve the repair and restoration of the house as a ruin, re-open the house to the public, involve our community, create fresh interpretation, support traditional skills training and education.

Through our 3-phase project journey we will conserve and enhance the fabric of the building to ensure that our Grade A listing building is protected and preserved. Provide opportunities and develop resources to bring to life the stories and historic importance of John Cowane’s House and its residents.

Phase 1 will stabilise the wall structures to ensure longevity and provide safe access of the ruin to the public. This phase will provide the foundation to creating interpretation boards with lighting and deliver an immersive open air historic visitor experience.

Through collaboration and partnership, we will provide skill-based experiences through apprenticeships to maximise the learning opportunities of traditional masonry skills whilst supporting both training and education.

Phase 2 – will focus on the reinstatement of the ornamental historic garden which will include a network of accessible paths, planting of soft landscaping and the reintroduction of historic plants and hedgerows.

By developing a volunteer program, we will create volunteer opportunities to engage our local community groups and schools to grow vegetables and plants whilst also maintaining the garden landscape, with our aim to create a safe space for all to enjoy by partnering with horticultural therapy programs who use plant- based activities to help promote mental and physical well-being.

Phase 3 is our final phase with our wider aim to create and install a unique wire mesh walkway connecting the visitors with the historic fabric of the ruin, complemented by a lift which will provide a unique experience accessible to all visitors to enjoy.

We believe that the walkway will be the first of its kind, in Scotland, offering access for everyone within an historic ruin setting.

Through our exciting and ambitious volunteering opportunities – the Queen Mary’s Palace Project will re-engage our previous volunteers to develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities through volunteering in a different way than has been possible before. We will widen the range of volunteering opportunities on offer at John Cowane’s House to attract new volunteers to join our community and ensure as many people as possible will benefit from the unique heritage experience being offered.