Saturday, 28 March 2015

Conservatory, Dalkeith Palace

The extraordinary twelve sided conservatory at Dalkeith designed by William Burn was built in 1832. What appears to be just the central supporting column of the conservatory is in fact a cast iron chimney to service the furnaces used to heat the building which are concealed underneath.

Impressive though the structure undoubtedly still is, even in its present ruined condition, it is sad to see something quite so splendid and unusual not being given the due care and attention it so richly deserves and is being allowed to slides further into decay.

The 5th Duke of Buccleuch had initially engaged William Burn to enlarge Dalkeith Palace, the model is preserved at Bowhill, but although those plans came to nothing, he was kept very  busy elsewhere. Burn remodeled Branxholme Castle in the Borders in 1837 which had been owned by the Scott's since the 1420's. Burn also worked on Bowhill nearby but his greatest triumph was in persuading the Duke to demolish Montagu House on the banks of the Thames at Westminster and replace it between 1853-1859 with a building in the French Renaissance style. Montagu House was demolished after the First World War to make way for the Air Ministry.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Kings Gate, Dalkeith Palace

The Kings Gate, the ceremonial entrance to Dalkeith Park was built in 1838 to be used in the event of the reigning monarch visiting Dalkeith Palace. The first monarch to use the gates was Queen Victoria who passed through with Prince Albert on their way to stay with the Duke of Buccleuch on their first visit to Scotland in 1842. They evidently enjoyed themselves because they came again in 1859 and in 1872.

These days the gates are only opened once a year to admit visitors arriving by motor car to attend the annual Dalkeith Agricultural Show in August.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Tea Cottage, Mellerstain House

The Tea or 'Old' Cottage was constructed in late 19th century in the policies of Mellerstain House as picturesque venue for the Hamilton family and their guests to take tea in the afternoon.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Armadale Castle

The Clan Donald became established on the Isle of Skye in the 15th century. Armadale Castle is on the southern side of the island in the lands of Sleat. The legendary Flora MacDonald came to Armadale after helping Bonnie Prince Charlie and was arrested nearby. She later married at Armadale. The present house, designed by James Gillespie Graham was built for Lord MacDonald of Sleat in 1815.

In 1855 fire destroyed much of the original castle which was replaced by the current central section designed by David Bryce in 1858. In 1925 the MacDonald family moved out to a smaller house nearby leaving the roofless Armadale Castle open to the elements.

The original entrance to the castle, now described as a 'sculptured' ruin is a popular wedding venue. The grand Imperial Staircase makes a dramatic backdrop to the ceremonies while the views across to the Knoydart Peninsula  are unrivalled.

In 1971 the ruined castle and the 20 000 acre estate were bought by the Clan Donald Society who opened it  up to visitors and founded the Museum of the Isles.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Manderston House Stables

These magnificent stables  were finished in 1895, some years before work on the house had even started Horse and Hound suggested that Manderston could 'probably boast the finest stabling in all the world'. Built by Sir William Miller and designed by John Kinross the stables are built around two courtyards. The main entrance is through an arch flanked with Doric columns and surmounted by a pediment. On the left side of the courtyard are the coach houses, to the right the loose boxes.

On the inside of the arch are stone panels of hounds and huntsmen carved in high relief.Facing the entrance across the courtyard are the stalls. The barrel-vaulted roof is lined with teak. The stalls and feed troughs are made of teak. The finials and tie rings are made of brass.

The names of the horses which once occupied them are incised on marble panels. They all have the same initial....... 'M' for Millar and Manderston.....Magic, Monarch and  Malakoff...

The tack room is the ultimate in Edwardian luxury. Rosewood cupboards and  marble floors.

The table for cleaning the tack and harness is made of brass and Italian marble.

The rear exit  to the paddocks and the muck heap.

The second courtyard is lined with loose boxes that open directly onto the yard in the manner of racing stables.

Before the house had even been finished the motor car superceded the horse as the means of transport and the coach houses at Manderston were converted into garages. But happily horses are still kept at Manderston, for pleasure and for hunting.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Home Farm, Rosneath Castle

At Rosneath, landscape painter Alexander Nasmyth designed a Gothick eye-catcher steading for the Duke of Argyll c 1803.

In plan the steading is three sides of an octagon with at the centre a tall belvedere which rises above the surrounding  buildings.

Tall blind pointed arches, bartizans and a balustrade  decorate the facade.

Two octagonal towers with pyramid roofs echo the main tower, while two round towers finish the steading at either end.

The steading was the Home farm for Rosneath Castle, an estate and secondary residence of  the Duke of Argyll that was built  at the same time c 1803  and finally demolished in 1961. The neo-Classical mansion had been the residence of HRH Princess Louise, Dowager Duchess of Argyll who lived there until her death in 1939. The site of Rosneath Castle is now a caravan park.