With history dating back all the way to the 18th Century, the Kingsmills Hotel has a vivid and colourful history. Known across the ages for its warm open doors and hospitality, the Kingsmills has acted host to philanthropists, soldiers seeking refuge and even the great Rabbie Burns himself.
Taking a peek back to the latter half of the 18th century, the Kingsmills was home to William Inglis, Provost of Inverness and his family. The Inglis family consequently played a large part in the growth and development of the town itself, resulting in several monuments and dedications which can be found around Inverness.
However, it wasn’t until much later, 1946 to be precise – when the Kingsmills was converted into a small privately run hotel by the MacLeod family. The rest, as they say, is history.
Connected through the ties of marriage, the Inglis family came into possession of the Kingsmills building in late 1700s. As a family split between trading as merchants in the Savannah and staying in the town of Inverness, one brother, known as William chose to stay within the town of Inverness.
William, following in the steps of his father, joined the town council – with a focus on creating and developing new roads, which would prove essential to the growth of traders and town business. His time within the council also saw the construction of the ornate Steeple on Bridge Street, as well as creation of the Royal Northern Infirmary. Truly devoted to the needs of the people, William spent much time dedicated to develop schemes and relief for the poorer classes, as well and expanding trade services through sea travel.
Needless to say, William’s reputation preceded him and on the 4th of September, 1787, Robert Burns of notable fame arrived at the Kingsmills Hotel with colleague William Dunbar to supper with Inglis. Most unusually, there is no recollection of local press articles to the arrival of the celebrity, however, documentation has been found of correspondence between Burns and Inglis, expressing Burns’ compliments for the hospitality offered.
A philanthropist to the core, Inglis continued to work for the people until his retirement in 1800. Sadly, his well-earned break was to be abruptly cut short as he suddenly passed away four months later at the age of 54.
Numerous echoes of his much-adored presence remain to this day, including the now pedestrianized Inglis Street, dedicated in his honour in 1792, as well as the life-size portrait interpretation of William, currently on show in the town hall.
Hospitality at The Kingsmills Hotel
Regardless of the company kept within the Kingsmills walls, hospitality and friendship has long been extended as a reoccurring value and continues to be to this day. One particular Jacobite solider is quoted to have said upon fleeing from the devastating battle of Culloden (1746), that he sought refuge in Kingsmills – for knowing he would be among friends.
With friends, he was.