After centuries of building castles and fortified tower houses, which led to most southerners thinking of Scots as a bunch of barbarians, there was an incredible flowering of new intellectual thought in Scotland, starting around 1740, which had a profound effect on the world. Included in this were some incredibly important new architectural ideas, and the aristocracy, after the failure of the Jacobite rebellion started to build more comfortable Scottish country houses.
The Georgian era produced some of Scotland’s finest homes from the terraces of Edinburgh’s ‘New Town’ to wonderful homes like Mellerstain in the Scottish Borders or Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coastline, famous for its Eisenhower apartment, given to the General after the war from a grateful nation. A key name in all of this was of course Adam, William Adam being the foremost Scottish architect of his time. William designed numerous Scottish country houses in a conservative Palladian style, the modified classic Roman style that was originally developed by the 16th Century architect, Andrea Palladio. The Adam children grew up in the cultured atmosphere of a propertied and well-connected 18th-century family.
William Adam died in 1748 and his eldest son, John, went into partnership with his brother Robert. Over the years both did well from the lucrative commissions. Besides building Fort George in the Moray Firth, the Adam brothers were also engaged to do the interior decoration of the Earl of Hopetoun’s house. In their interiors the brothers introduced a new almost Rococo style of decoration. The other important private commission of these years was Dumfries House, for the Earl of Dumfries, which has latterly been saved for the nation by HRH Prince Charles, largely because it has the finest collection of Chippendale furniture in the world. The Adams ‘style’ can be seen throughout Scotland and had a huge influence on western architecture. Other examples of their work in Scotland include Paxton House and Wedderburn Castle which are both in Berwickshire; Pitfour in Tayside and Gosford House in East Lothian, the home of the Earls of Wemyss. Balbardie House close by was sadly demolished, as indeed were many of Scotland’s great houses after the 2nd world war. Many Georgian gems were hugely added onto during the wealthy Victorian era, often in a rather vulgar way. A lot of these homes were requisitioned during the war as schools, hospitals or officer’s quarters and were basically ‘trashed’. This lead to an average of two houses a week being demolished in Scotland during the socialist 60’s when taxes were crippling.
The most important Scottish architect of the early twentieth century was Charles Rennie Mackintosh who developed the influential “Glasgow style” and designed famous properties like Hill House. LTR has had more involvement with slightly earlier architects from the Victorian era, like Brice who worked on many Scottish projects and built grand homes for many grand families. These families were keen to maintain close proximity to the Queen in Deeside or were simply swept up by the romanticism of Scotland, as described by the likes of Sir Walter Scott. Many of these homes were called castles but were really turreted manor houses, often with very ornate interiors like Ayton Castle, Panmure Castle or Castle Wemyss. This style became known as ‘Scots Baronial’, and Balmoral, Queen Victoria’s home, is probably the most famous example. A great property built during her son’s reign, is the wonderful Edwardian home of Manderston House, with the world’s only solid silver staircase. There are many wonderful contemporary homes now also being built in Scotland and LTR can arrange for guests to experience Corrour Lodge, which is built from 65 tonnes of Portuguese granite and sits at the top of a loch, surrounded by 5 Munros and with wonderful views in all directions. The estate is the size of Los Angeles and has its own private train station. The actual lodge is very contemporary and filled with light and cool spaces. Whatever your preferred architectural style, Scotland has it all.