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The History of Tig Cottage

We proudly support the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.
Tig Cottage Heronsford in 1879 - an old photograph of Tig Cottage Heronsford
An old photograph of Heronsford South Ayrshire.

Tig Cottage was built in the 1840s, and is on land that was once part of the Laggan Estate in Ayrshire, like the rest of the hamlet of Heronsford.

The 1841 census describes Heronsford as having eight households, although the 1851 census lists only three (large) households. By 1855, Heronsford was described as a small hamlet consisting of five houses and a Smithy.


Whilst there are a few more than five houses now, Heronsford is still the peaceful hamlet that it has always been.

One resident of the cottage that we can identify is the painter and ceramicist, Robert Sinclair Thomson (ARSA, RSW). Robert lived at the cottage in the 1960s through till the 1980s. Robert only had one leg, following an injury in his youth, and it is difficult not to think of him when you climb the stairs with it’s slight change in height that can catch the unwary off-guard - considering Robert had been a dispatch rider during the Second World War (when he also only had one leg), it’s unlikely he had any problems.

Robert painted Tig Cottage, and the building opposite (The Smithy, known as “The Smiddy”) at least twice, and owned both building, with the Smiddy being used as a studio. The layout of the cottage’s garden is still similar to how Robert had it, complete with a paved area that gives the same view of the Smiddy that he captured in his painting. He invited his artist friends to visit him at the cottage, and appeared to gain both painting and ceramic inspiration from his time there


After Robert died in the 1980s, the property remained the home of his second wife, Barbara, who was a model for Dior, before changing hands a couple of times before it came to Vic and Greg, your hosts at Tig Cottage.

A self-portrait of Robert Sinclair Thomson
A painting of Tig Cottage and the Smiddy by Robert Sinclair Thomson

The history of the Laggan Estate, Ballantrae and this area of South West Scotland is complex. 

The Laggan estate changed changes several times due to marriage, but during the First World War, it was in the ownership of Denzil Hughes-Onslow. Hughes-Onslow became a major in the war, but was killed in action in France in 1916 at the Somme.


His widow, Marion Hughes-Onslow, turned the large house on the estate, Laggan House, over the Red Cross who used it as a hospital. She also erected a war memorial in Heronsford to Major Hughes-Onslow and five other men from the Laggan estate who died in the war. This memorial is a two minute walk from the door of Tig Cottage. 

The area was also involved in the Second World War. Laggan House became the base for the Second Light Car Unit, which was a secret unit involved in creating sonic deception technology. The families of the soldiers on the base were billeted in Heronsford and Colmonell. Churchill is believed to have visited the estate to see their work. 

Heronsford is situated between the villages of Colmonell and Ballantrae. There is evidence of people living in the area of Colmonell since the time of the Picts, and you can read more about it at it's website

Ballantrae has a rich history intertwined with royalty (Mary Queen of Scots), historical Scottish figures such as Hugh Kennedy (who fought alongside Joan of Arc) and famous figures including John Keats and Robert Louis Stevenson, both of whom visited Ballantrae. You can read more about Ballantrae at it's website

Ballantrae is the home of Ardstinchar Castle. Although it's now a ruin, you can see how it may have looked in its heyday, and read more about it, here

Outside - Side Garden - Orange flowers - River slope.jpg
Our Reviews

The most perfectly presented property property we have ever booked. It’s so lovely we have rebooked for later this year!

Andy, UK

A beautifully appointed semi detached cottage next to a babbling brook in quite countryside overlooking fields of sheep during our stay. 10 minutes drive from the beach at Ballantrae village. Would highly recommend this cottage for anyone wanting peace and quiet to recharge. Also wonderful for star gazing with no light pollution.

Christopher, UK

Brilliant place to stay enjoy unwind and relax .would defo recommend this place if anyone is looking for a quieter place to stay but with all the mod cons ..defo home from home ..loved it and will defo be back

Hayley, UK

The hosts had obviously gone to a lot of trouble to make Tig Cottage homely and welcoming. The information booklet was comprehensive and very useful. Lots of wee extras we did not necessarily expect but appreciated.

Colin, UK

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