Burns House Museum, Mauchline
Burns House Museum (Burns' room is upper left in this photo)

Robert Burns lived in Mauchline from 1784 to 1788, and it was here that he met and married Jean Armour, and here that he wrote many of his most enduring poems and songs. This small museum is set in an attractive red brick cottage where Burns and his wife Jean Armour lived, in an area of historic buildings in the core of old Mauchline.

Burns in Mauchline

Robert Burns came to Mauchline on the death of his father, William, and set up a farm at Mossgiel, on the edge of town. Here in Mauchline, he became a father for the first time, by a farm servant named Elizabeth Paton.

Here also he met and married Jean Armour, only to have her father tear up the marriage contract. Jean gave birth to twins, one of whom died young and is buried in Mauchline churchyard. Burns then met and made plans to run away with Mary Campbell (Highland Mary) but this plan came to nothing when Campbell tragically died.

Burns' children's grave in Mauchline churchyard
Burns' children's grave in Mauchline churchyard

In the meantime, Burns published the first edition of his works (The Kilmarnock Edition). Jean Armour then became pregnant by Burns again, and he set up house with her in a room in Castle Street, in a house owned by Dr John Mackenzie, a close friend who encouraged Burns to pursue his talent for poetry. Jean gave birth to twins, but both died within 10 days and were also buried in the churchyard.

The marriage of Robert and Jean was officially recognised in August 1588, but by this time Burns was already making plans to move his family to Ellisland Farm, near Dumfries, where he had the opportunity for regular employment as an excise man. Jean moved from Mauchline to join him at Ellisland in December 1588.

The house where the young couple made their first home has been restored as a fascinating museum dedicated to Burns and his time in Mauchline.

The small room where Robert and Jean lived after their marriage, and where Jean gave birth to twins, is on the first floor, and this has been very simply furnished to reflect how it would have looked at the time the Burns family lived here.

The rest of the first floor is given over to linked exhibitions about Burns' life and work. You can trace the rocky courtship of Robert Burns and Jean Armour, whose father vehemently opposed their marriage until the young suitor's literary success made him an acceptable son-in-law.

Poosie Nanie's Inn
Poosie Nanie's Inn

This small museum exhibits Burns memorabilia and rare manuscripts and shows what life was like for Burns in late 18th century Mauchline. The prize exhibit is an original 'Kilmarnock Edition' of Burns' 'Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect', but there is a very interesting collection of personal letters and a look at the patrons who encouraged Burns to publish his artistic efforts.

One manuscript is the original of 'Holy Willies Prayer', a biting satire of a sanctimonious Mauchline church elder. Within the museum are items of local interest including examples of 'Mauchline Ware' boxes and granite curling stones, for Mauchline was - and still is - a centre of production for curling stones.

On the ground floor of the museum is an audio-visual introduction to Robert Burns.

Across the road is the Old Graveyard, where four of Burns' young children are buried, along with his brother John. Also buried, and very well signposted, are a number of the poet's contemporaries including his father-in-law, James Armour, as well as characters immortalised in his poems.

Across the road from the churchyard is Poosie Nansies Inn, which takes its odd name from the landlord's wife in Burns' day, when the inn had a less than sterling reputation. Immediately opposite the museum is Nanse Tinnock's, an alehouse in Burns' day, and now a space for special exhibits.

About Burns House Museum
Address: Castle Street, Mauchline, Ayrshire, Scotland, KA5 5BZ
Attraction Type: Museum
Location: Well signposted from the centre of Mauchline, free parking area.
Website: Burns House Museum
Email: BurnsHouse.MuseumandLibrary@east-ayrshire.gov.uk
Location map
OS: NS498272
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

Mauchline Old Graveyard - 0 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Highland Mary's Monument - 2.6 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Ayr Woodland Gorge - 2.9 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Sorn Castle - 3.1 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Barony A-Frame - 3.8 miles (Museum) Heritage Rating

Bachelors' Club - 4.1 miles (Museum) Heritage Rating

Dumfries House - 5 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Symington Parish Church - 7.5 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

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