The original ‘Frierskerse’ was established as a friary back in the 13th century, close to today’s ‘Friars Carse’.
The property became home to the Riddell family and named ‘Glenriddell’, with Robert Burns, the celebrated Scottish poet, as a regular houseguest.
Burns was born in Ayrshire but died in Dumfries after only 37 years. He had an eventful lifetime and, visiting many places, he knew many people and committed many of his experiences to paper for posterity. Burns left a great impression on the nation and its people with his songs and poems.
Friars Carse has close associations with Burns too as it was here, in the Whistle Restaurant, where the famous drinking competition was held with Fergusson of Craigdarroch, the outright winner, and put into verse by Rabbie. He would sometimes sleep at the Burns Hermitage, located in the grounds of Friars Carse, and wrote his inscription to the then owner of the estate “To the Memory of Robert Riddell” on the hermitage window with his diamond stencil.
The stencil is now on display at Ellisland Farm Museum which is just a short walk from the hermitage along the River Nith. It is here that he wrote many of his most famous poems and songs including Auld Lang Syne and Tam o’Shanter. Ellisland Farm provides a wonderful insight into Robert Burn’s life on a farm two hundred years ago. Guided tours of the farmhouse and museum are available. You can see Rabbie’s original writings and his possessions and stroll along Burns’ walk beside the river.
The property passed through many hands before becoming home to Dr James Crichton (better known as the Admirable Crichton) in 1809. Remodelled in 1873, the house was renamed ‘Friars Carse’ in 1895 and established as a hotel in 1938.