Elizabeth Grierson (b. 1779 – d. 1862), daughter of Sir Robert Grierson of Lag, the 5th Baronet, married James Crichton, who had accumulated an enormous wealth overseas and purchased Friars Carse in 1809. James died in 1823 leaving properties and over £100,000 to his wife as trustee.
If the first Baronet was the devil, then Elizabeth was an angel, dedicating her life and fortune to setting up the Crichton Royal Hospital, a care institute for the elderly and insane.
In order to carry out all her wishes Elizabeth had to fight her husband’s brother through the courts and even on to appeal at the House of Lords as he tried to stop her charitable trusts.
Elizabeth’s vision was far-sighted and the hospital offered a model of care for psychiatric patients not seen before. With pavilions housed in a parkland setting, Crichton became famous for it’s very different approach to treating patients, recognising the therapeutic benefits of art, drama and music.
The Crichton Trust and the Crichton Foundation still exists today, and a statue of Elizabeth was erected on the Crichton Campus in 2000, unveiled by HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.
Elizabeth’s original wish was to found Scotland’s fifth university. However her plans were met with fierce opposition, not least by some of existing universities looking after their own interests.
Now in the 21st century, and housing around 8,500 students, the original Estate is home to the first integrated tertiary educational campus in Scotland. Including the University of West Scotland, The University of Glasgow Dumfries Campus, and Dumfries and Galloway College.
Additionally, the estate is now home to the Crichton Business Park which has around 30 businesses, employing 900 people.
The grounds of the 100 acre estate have been turned into an award winning park, offering amenities and open space for all to enjoy.