Cowane's Hospital is a 17th-century almshouse in the Old Town of Stirling, Scotland. It was established in 1637 with a bequest of 40,000 merks from the estate of the merchant John Cowane (1570–1633). Subsequently converted for use as a Guildhall the building is considered by Historic Scotland to be "a rare survival of 17th century burgh architecture and one of the finest buildings of its kind in Scotland." It was listed at category A in 1965. The gardens are also seen as a "rare survival" of an institutional garden of the 17th century, and were included in the national Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in 2012. The hospital is located on St John Street, between the medieval Church of the Holy Rude and the 19th-century Old Town Jail.John CowaneJohn Cowane was descended from a family of Stirling merchants who had been trading with the Dutch since the early 16th century. The Cowanes exported fish, coal and wool in exchange for luxuries such as prunes, saffron and spices which were supplied to the royal court of James V at Stirling Castle. John Cowane also ventured into money lending, invested in shipping, and was a substantial landlord in the burgh. He served on the town council, was elected Dean of Guild in 1624, and sat in the Parliament of Scotland from 1625–1632. He never married, though in 1611 he was fined £6 for fathering a child out of wedlock: the mother was also fined and forced to do public penance. Cowane lived on St Mary's Wynd, in the building which still bears his name. John Cowane's house, though ruined, was purchased and preserved in 1924 by the trust he established.
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