The Hall of Mirrors, also known as the Bonnington Pavilion, the Corra Linn Pavilion, or the Falls of Clyde summerhouse, is just one of the many sights along the Clyde Walkway. This trail extends for 65km and connects New Lanark, Scotland and Glasgow.
It’s now in ruins, but the Hall of Mirrors overlooks the Corra Linn Falls on the River Clyde. Built in 1708 by Sir James Carmichael of Bonnington House, the building was constructed for entertaining his guests.
The two-story building wasn’t a large building, but more of a stone gazebo, offering a large window overlooking the falls. (The Corra Linn Falls are actually part of a collection of four falls, called the Falls of Clyde. The other falls, or linn, include the upper falls of Bonnington Linn, Dundaff Linn, and the lower falls of Stonebyres Linn).
Why was the building dubbed the Hall of Mirrors? Well, because it had mirrors placed on the ceiling at an angle to reflect the image of the falls. Allegedly, this gave the impression that the waters were falling on the viewer. It’s thought to have been the first Camera obscura built in Scotland.
But there may have been another reason for the mirrors. Back in the day, it was believed that nature was too harsh, brutal and ugly for women of good breeding to look upon it directly. (No, seriously. That’s what they thought.) But looking upon nature through the reflection of a mirror elevated the image to high art, making it okay. As long as they kept their back to the falls and didn’t look directly at them.
I’m not sure how women got to the pavilion in the first place then, were they blindfolded?
What else makes this building special? It had some famous visitors, such as Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to name a few. Several alterations were made to the building over the years, and it’s not clear exactly when it was abandoned. But one thing is clear: the remaining ruins of this amazing little building need to be preserved.
The building is on the “Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland” website, and is listed as being in “moderate risk.” http://www.buildingsatrisk.org.uk/details/910494 It seems they have been monitoring its state periodically, but no steps have been made to preserve or conserve the building. (Yet.)
The nature around the Hall of Mirrors site is really beautiful and calming:
If you continue walking past the Hall of Mirrors, you’ll eventually come to an iron bridge. It’s only to look at though, not to cross:
It’s thought that the footbridge was built for Lady Mary Ross. The bridge is also on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland.
As we backtracked to the New Lanark woolen mill where we were parked, we came across this little guy on the trail. So watch where you step!