GLASGOW’S famous Hutcheson brothers, Thomas and George, were philanthropic lawyers in the 17th century.

When Thomas was only five years old, his father died, and George became his guardian.

Thomas received a good education and later said this one of “the blessings, and the pious and memorable exampell for which, under God, I am indebted to my brother George.”

Glasgow Times:

The two men bequeathed land and funds for the construction and endowment of a hospital for old Glasgow men and a free school for underprivileged boys.

George was highly successful, with an aristocratic clientele and he acquired substantial property both in Glasgow and areas outside the city. These included Barrowfield, Provanside, Meadowflat, Ramshorn, Gairbraid, Lambhill and Partick. His brother Thomas inherited his estate but died shortly afterwards.

It was in Partick that George built his house - sometimes mistakenly called the Bishop’s Castle.  His Partick lands were later incorporated in the Meadowside shipbuilding yard.

Glasgow Times:

In 1639, George Hutcheson died, bequeathing a tenement and £1111 for an alms house in Trongate. Hutcheson Hospital was to cater for 12 “aged, decrepit, destitute men of good character.” His brother George added another tenement and £583 for hospital purposes.

Among George’s papers there was a draft settlement for the endowment of a school, which had not been completed.

Thomas added an endowment for a school for orphaned and under-privileged boys; sons of burgesses, to be housed in an adjoining hospital building. He also added to the funds available for the hospital. 

In all, the bequests from the brothers for Hutcheson Hospital and School totalled £4017, a value of about £500,000 today.

The hospital was built between 1641 and 1660 but only two of the four sides of the compound were completed. The main hall originally accommodated 12 men and the school a dozen boys.

Glasgow Times:

The front of the building on Trongate was adorned with a 100-feet high steeple complete with a clock and bell. To the north of the main complex was an extensive garden open to the public as well as to inmates.

Statues of the Hutcheson brothers stood on either side of the entrance at the foot of the steeple.

In the original school, the scholars were kept apart from the men.  No house duties were to be imposed on the lads so that they might get the full benefit of their education. They were kept for four or five years, and the abler of them sent to the Grammar School.

The hospital was originally maintained by revenue from the rentals of land in Gorbals, Ramshorn and Meadowflat. However, funds became scarce soon after the building was completed. 

Later, parts of the hospital were acquired by businessmen and shopkeepers and the close was used for the grim bloodsport of bullbaiting. In 1795 the site was sold to make way for the creation of Hutcheson Street.

The hospital patrons invested the money raised from the sale in the erection of a new hospital in Ingram Street, now known as Hutchesons Hall. 

Designed by David Hamilton, the new building was completed in 1805.  It has a distinctive octagonal spire, with clock and dial plate, and it is 150 feet tall. It incorporated the 1649 carved statues of George and Thomas Hutcheson from the earlier hospital.

The new building continued to be used as a hospital, but the Great Hall housed Stirling's Library until 1844, before becoming the clearing room of the Glasgow banks.

The school room was found increasingly inadequate  and in 1852, new buildings were erected in Crown Street in the Gorbals.

Patrons had continued to administer the hospital and school under the original wills and bequests.

This changed with the Hutcheson School Act, 1872, which allowed the charging of fees for the schools.  It also gave them powers to establish a similar school for the education and training of girls.  A girl’s school was established in 1876 in Elgin Street.

Hutchesons Hall fell into disrepair and in 1984 the National Trust for Scotland launched an appeal for funds to purchase the building which accommodated its regional office.

The building lay empty from 2008 but after a £1.4m refurbishment, it opened as a restaurant. Operating as Hutchesons City Grill until 2020, when Covid forced it to close, it remained shut until last year when it re-opened as restaurant and cocktail bar, 1802 Hutchesons Hall.

In addition to being used as a school, library, bank and restaurant, the building was also a Hollywood filming location, featuring in the Oscar-nominated movie, The Wife.