AT THE Kirkgate in Alloa stands Clackmannanshire’s oldest surviving town house, dating from the late 17th century – this was the home of master mason Tobias Bauchop, or Baak.

Bauchop’s birth is unknown but he was the son of Alloa stonemason Thomas Bauchop and became apprenticed to his father.

The first standalone record of Bauchop is in 1680 when he was involved in repairs to the old Alloa Parish Church, St Mungo’s.

He is then recorded as working for Sir William Bruce, known as the country’s first architect, at Kinross House and his work here went on to influence his later designs.

Bruce was impressed by his work and employed him on several other occasions, but he also recommended him to William Douglas, also known as William Douglas-Hamilton, 3rd Duke of Hamilton.

The duke was intending to build a beautiful home for his wife from whom he took his title, but in the end, Hamilton Palace was designed by James Smith.

Bauchop’s work took him as far south as Dumfries-shire and to Perthshire and Forfarshire, now Angus, as well as staying locally.

He was involved in the construction of old Logie Kirk in 1684 and five years later carried out work at the gun battery and the James V Palace at Stirling Castle.

It is recorded that in 1690 he was back in Alloa working on projects including the market cross in Bank Street, commissioned by John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, and in 1695 he completed his house at 25 Kirkgate, also known as Star House.

His initials and those of his wife Margaret Lapsley, whom he had married on February 8, 1684, appear, as was common practice at the time, above the door in a garlanded shield.

Originally a symmetrical two-storey L-plan building, at first glance, it looks plain but on closer inspection, it has a lot of classical detailing, showing the fine work carried out by its master mason.

Its most prominent feature is its projecting sundial. It was said supporting bracket of the sundial depicted the Devil because Bauchop chose to leave the established church but is in fact simply a grotesque human head, common in many buildings.

Constructed of finely pointed ashlar with traditional crowstepped gables, it has stood the test of time and is testament to the Alloa mason.

A year later, he carried out alterations for James Ogilvy, 2nd Earl of Airlie, at Cortachy Castle near Kirriemuir, and enlarged Kinloch House at Meigle in 1697. The contract for Kinloch was witnessed by his senior assistant and architect Alexander Edward.

Tobias Bauchops house in Alloa

Tobias Bauchop's house in Alloa

IN 1705 Bauchop’s work took him to Dumfries where he worked on the town hall and the steeple.

It was not his design, but that of architect and builder John Moffat of Liverpool who had pulled out. By this time Bauchop’s reputation ‘of good skill’ was growing.

The town’s committee 'resolved to send for one Tobias Bachup, a master builder now at Abercorn...who is said to be of good skill'.

Abercorn was where he involved in the construction of Hopetoun House for Charles Hope as Hope was a client of William Bruce.

As such, Bauchop was credited as being the architect of the town hall and steeple, and although he claimed to have spent six weeks working on it, he simply executed Moffat’s design.

His last recorded work was for James Graham, the 1st Duke of Montrose when, in 1708, he ‘gave advice’ regarding his house in the Drygate in Glasgow.

Bauchop died on April 26, 1710. At the time he was working at Stirling Castle once more, inserting an upper floor in the Great Hall which was to be used as barrack accommodation.

He was also in the process of building a new staircase at the north-west corner of the palace but this was never completed following his death.

Eight years earlier he had drawn up plans for the rebuilding of a mansion for Sir John Shaw of Greenock, but, again, had died before the plans could be executed.

The house he had built in Alloa remained in his family until it was sold to a sea captain in the mid-18th century.

Between 1762 and 1786, it was used as a church hall of the Seceders church. More than a century later, the house was altered to accommodate a shop with a change to the L-plan layout occurring somewhere between the 19th and 20th centuries.

The most easterly ground floor window was altered, and additions were made to the back of the building which led to a yard and there were remains of a gateway.

The house fell into disrepair, so much so it was almost a ruin, but was restored in the late 20th century with the aid of the National Trust for Scotland and the then Clackmannan District Council.

It was Category A listed by what is now Historic Environment Scotland on June 9, 1960.

Bauchop will be best remembered for his work at Kinross House, Hopetoun House, and Craigiehall, a large villa at Crammond near Edinburgh, which again was designed by Bauchop’s friend William Bruce for William Johnstone, 2nd Earl of Annandale.