Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape

ARDTORNISHGDL00024

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
01/07/1987
Local Authority
Highland
Parish
Morvern
NGR
NM 70260 47509
Coordinates
170260, 747509

The 20th century gardens of Ardtornish contain a valuable collection of species Rhododendrons and other ericaceous trees and shrubs. The architectural features in the landscape are of special interest and the site contains four Sites of Special Scientific Interest, giving it exceptional wildlife value.

Type of Site

A woodland garden, affording long views across Loch Aline as well as close views of wooded glen, river and waterfall, Ardkinglas makes the most of the surrounding Highland scenery while hosting individual garden compartments dating from the 1960s.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Late-19th-century and early-20th-century, extended and altered in the early 1920s, the 1930s and more recently between 1967-87.

Importance of Site

A site included in the Inventory is assessed for its condition and integrity and for its level of importance. The criteria used are set out in Annex 5 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy (December 2011). The principles are represented by the following value-based criteria and we have assigned a value for each on a scale ranging from outstanding value to no value. Criteria not applicable to a particular site have been omitted. All sites included in the Inventory are considered to be of national importance.

Work of Art

Value
Some

Ardtornish has some value as a Work of Art in its present form.

Historical

Value
High

The interesting estate buildings and the available documentary evidence at Ardtornish provide high Historical value.

Horticultural, Arboricultural, Silvicultural

Value
High

The plant collection has high Horticultural value due particularly to its remote location.

Architectural

Value
Outstanding

The designed landscape provides the setting for a collection of architectural features of outstanding interest.

Scenic

Value
Outstanding

The house, Tower and woodlands make an outstanding contribution to the scenery when seen from the A884.

Nature Conservation

Value
Outstanding

The four Sites of Special Scientific Interest on the estate and the great variety of relatively undisturbed natural habitats give Ardtornish outstanding Nature Conservation value.

Archaeological

Value
Not Assessed

Location and Setting

Principal views from the house lead southwards to Loch Linnhe but important views from the site lie north-eastwards to the cascading falls of Tubhailt Mhic ic Eoghain ('MacLean's Towel'). This is formed by the confluence of the innumerable burns which fall off Sgurr na h Eanchainne (B). Sgurr na h Eanchainne (730m) directly to the north, forms the landscape backdrop to views out of the landscape.

Site History

The original Ardtornish House stood approximately 5km to the south of the present house site near Ardtornish Castle at Ardtornish Point. It was built by the Duke of Argyll for Donald Campbell, his factor on the Morvern Estates. In time, the house passed to Campbell's successor, Angus Gregorson, whose son George purchased the surrounding estate in 1819. Patrick Sellar from Sutherland acquired the Estate with other ground further inland in Morvern in 1844. His holdings were separated by the Achranich Estate which was purchased by Octavius Smith from London in 1845. He began the construction of a new house on his estate between 1856-60. By 1860, the estates were amalgamated after Octavius Smith had bought Acharn and Ardtornish from Sellar's heirs. Smith's new house became known as Ardtornish Towers. During this century the name has been changed to Ardtornish House or, more usually, Ardtornish. He carried out many improvements throughout the estate. These improvements were later continued by his son, Valentine Smith, a distiller in London, who inherited on his father's death in 1871.

Of the Smiths' improvements, the most outstanding is the generally high standard of construction achieved in the new estate buildings which is considered remarkable for this period in Scottish history. Samuel Barham, the Estate Master of Works, was responsible for much of the design and his use of concrete in the structures is thought to be amongst the earliest in the United Kingdom. Following the completion of the new house, the two properties continued to be inhabited by the family. In the early years of 1880 when it had only been completed for fourteen years, it was discovered that extensive repairs were required to the Octavius Smith house. Valentine Smith demolished it, retaining the old clocktower, and commissioned Alexander Ross to construct the present house which was built between 1884-91. Following its completion, Valentine Smith moved permanently to the new house. The present gardens were begun by him. His sister, Gertrude, who had married one of Partrick Sellar's sons, returned to Morvern in 1906 with her son. She inherited her brother's estates. The old Ardtornish House was found to be in a state of dereliction and it was demolished. Gertrude Sellar and her son continued to develop the gardens round the present house in the Edwardian style.

In 1930, Owen and Emmeline Hugh Smith purchased the property from the executors of the Sellar family. The gardens contained an interesting range of plants to which the new owners enthusiastically began to make additions. Sir John Stirling Maxwell was a family friend and he donated plant material from his home at Pollok, Glasgow.

During World War II the garden inevitably became overgrown through reduction in maintenance resources; however, Mr & Mrs Hugh Smith continued to plant. Since then the scrub invasion has gradually been cleared. Within the last seventeen years, their daughter, Mrs Faith Raven, has cleared, improved and diversified the garden. It was a feature in the book by her husband, Mr John Raven, 'A Botanist's Garden', published by Collins in 1970, which described many of the plants grown at Ardtornish and in their other garden at Docwra's Manor, Shepreth, Cambridgeshire.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Ardtornish House listed category A, was built between 1884-91 to the design of Alexander Ross. It is a three-storey, T-plan house with a triangular rear service court. The clock tower, which is included in the listing, dates from 1856-66 as part of the original house built by Octavius Smith although the roofline has been altered. It is thought that the designer of this house may also have been Alexander Ross. Flats in the house are now leased to holiday-makers. Ardtornish Castle is a 15th century tower-house, now in ruins.

Kinlochaline Castle lies to the west of Ardtornish Tower. The Estate Office and Manager's House, listed jointly category B, were built in 1880 by Samuel Barham on the site of the old Achranich Farmhouses. Other estate buildings to the east of the office are also of interest. The Barn/Byre, listed category C(S) dates from 1851. It is a long three-storey building with 11 bay north and south elevations. It is considered most unusual for this period.

The Ivy Bridge, listed category B, spans the River Aline close to Kinlochaline Castle (listed category B) and was built by Alexander Ross in 1880. Several other listed buildings exist on the estate outwith the policies of Ardtornish House. They include the farm steading, estate cottages, former schoolhouse and shepherd's cottage, all of which are listed category B, and a laundry listed category C(S).

Walled Gardens

The kitchen garden lies to the south of the River Rannoch on the southern edge of the policies. Comparison of the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps indicates that it was constructed after 1872. Prior to this time, the house appears to have been served by a smaller garden which lay along the route of what is now the front drive.

The garden today is enclosed by walls on two sides; fences complete the square. It appears to have been continually kept up. A large proportion of the total area was planted with fruit trees in 1939. It is still well-stocked with produce although it is now leased as a market garden. A good mature Magnolia campbellii} occasionally flowers close to the old bothy, now converted into the Factor's residence.

References

Bibliography

Sources

Printed Sources

F. Raven - Garden Information Leaflet

HHC & G, 1984

G.A. Little, 1981

Listings

NMRS, Photographs

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important gardens and designed landscapes. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We add sites of national importance to the inventory using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the inventory record gives an indication of the national importance of the site(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the site(s). The format of records has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries about development proposals, such as those requiring planning permission, on or around inventory sites should be made to the planning authority. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications of this type.

Find out more about the inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

Images

ARDTORNISH

Printed: 16/11/2018 03:05