Listed Building

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Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
Planning Authority
Argyll And Bute
NS 10843 59499
210843, 659499


Alexander McGill, 1718; rebuilt following 1877 fire by Robert Rowand Anderson from 1878. Square-plan 4-storey with attic, 7-bay central block with Gothic detailing; porte-cochere adjoined at ground to left of centre; 2-storey, 10-bay N wing recessed to outer left (McGill); 1896 chapel recessed behind with bowed apse and Saragossa Cathedral-style lantern; single storey gabled service wing (S) advanced to outer right; kitchen court set behind (part McGill). McGILL WINGS: whitewashed harl; red sandstone ashlar dressings; raised base course; raised eaves course; prominent quoins. ANDERSON BLOCK: coursed red sandstone ashlar (timber-framed red brick construction at 3rd floor); Raised base course; architraved cill courses; corniced eaves beneath gallery comprising marble columns, ashlar balustrades. Square-headed openings at ground with shouldered reveals and roll-moulded surrounds; trefoil-headed bipartites at 1st floor set in pointed-arch surrounds; bipartite openings in pointed-arch surrounds at 2nd floor, columnar mullions and reveals at both floors; architraved hoodmoulds; square-headed bipartite openings at 3rd floor; gabled, finialed dormers above. REAR: 4-storey with attic, 9-bay central block; small drawing room adjoining to right; 3-stage chapel with tapering spire recessed to outer right; 2-storey with attic, 5-bay wing adjoined to outer left (library and swimming pool). Shouldered openings at ground set in square-headed surrounds; chamfered ashlar mullions and reveals to 1st floor trefoil-headed bipartites; columnar reveals and mullions at 2nd floor; corbelled balconies; corbelled oriels. Decorative ironmongery; intricate sandstone carving throughout.

W (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION MAIN BLOCK: 2-leaf boarded timber door at ground in bay to outer left; blind, trefoil-headed fanlight; pointed-arched, architraved surround. Buttressed porte-cochere advanced to front comprising pointed entrance arch set in finialed gable, balustraded parapet with sculptured lions to outer left and right; foliate-bosses to inner quadripartite rib-vaults. Tripartite windows at 1st and 2nd floors above entrance (2 stages at 1st floor); 2 bipartite openings set behind galleried eaves above. 2-leaf, part-glazed timber panelled doors at ground off-set to left and right of centre (foliate carving set in slightly roll-moulded surround to left; shouldered opening to right); bipartite and tripartite windows in remaining bays at ground. 3 large bipartite openings centred at 1st floor; smaller bipartite openings in penultimate bays to outer left and right and bay to outer right; small square-headed bipartites at 2nd stage in penultimate bay to outer right and bay to outer right. 2 single windows centred at 2nd floor (single voussoir arch); large bipartite openings in remaining bays to left and right. Regularly fenestrated at 3rd floor behind galleried eaves; bargeboarded gabled dormers aligned above. N WING: part-glazed timber door at ground off-set to left of centre; single window aligned above. Large segmental-arched windows at ground in penultimate bay to outer left and bay to outer left; regularly fenestrated at both floors in remaining bays to right (blind at ground in bay to outer right). S WING: projecting 5-light window in bay to outer left (ashlar astragals and mullions); pointed-arched window aligned beneath apex; bipartite opening at ground in penultimate bay to outer left; square-headed bipartite window centred beneath apex; regularly fenestrated at ground and attic in remaining bays to right.

E (REAR) ELEVATION MAIN BLOCK: part-glazed 2-leaf timber panelled door at ground off-set to right of centre main block; corbelled balconies centred at 1st and 2nd floors; buttressed, trefoil-headed oriels at 2nd floor in penultimate bays to outer left and right; regularly fenestrated at all floors in remaining bays at centre, left and right. S WING: segmental-arched pend opening at ground in bay to outer right; regularly fenestrated above. Small windows set at ground in slightly canted central bay; tripartite oriel aligned at 1st floor; balustraded parapet; gabled tripartite window breaking eaves above. Arcaded openings at ground in remaining bays to left of centre; pointed-arched loggia opening at 1st floor to left of oriel; small bipartite window aligned above; regularly fenestrated at 1st and 2nd floors in bays to outer left. N WING: small windows at ground in bay adjoining main block; corbelled balcony aligned at 1st floor comprising decorative iron columns beneath glazed canopy, red ashlar columnar balustrade; roof-top conservatory above. CHAPEL: slightly advanced, gabled bay to left of centre; small trefoil-headed windows at ground; geometric-traceried window aligned at 2nd stage; tripartite opening centred beneath apex above; flanking crocketed pinnacles; vaulted octagonal tower comprising regularly-disposed pointed-arch openings, balustraded parapet, crocketed finials, tapering, gableted lantern set behind. Regularly-disposed windows set between buttresses in bowed apse to outer right.

12- and 16-pane timber sash and case glazing to McGill wings; predominantly leaded glazing to main block. Central hall clerestorey stained glass illustrating Signs of the Zodiac, H W Lonsdale (executed by William Worrall of Saunders & Co); heraldic mosaics above entrance displaying arms of 3 earldoms of Bute - Bute, Dumfries and Windsor. Grey slate roof; decorative wrought-iron rainwater goods. Corniced ashlar ridge and wallhead stacks to McGill wings; coped red ashlar ridge stacks to later additions; circular cans.

INTERIOR: painted decoration Charles Campbell and H W Lonsdale; stone carving Thomas Nicholls; stained glass predominantly William Worrall of Saunders & Co to H W Lonsdale's designs. HALL: marble-lined; pink-flushed alabaster, emperor's red, pavonazzetto; grey Sicilian pointed-arched Gothic ambulatory comprising cipollino columns, naturalistic capitals - thistles, vines, roses and oak leaves capitals (Thomas Nicholls). Bronze grilles (copied by Anderson from Charlemagne's tomb in Aachen, cast by R Laidlaw & Son, 1897) at gallery level; 12 Carrara marble statues on columnar plinths regularly disposed around gallery; glass stars representing the constellations in decorative, groin-vaulted ceiling (Campbell); various stained glass windows. DINING ROOM: extensive timber panelling by William Frame; carved dado frieze; mid 18th century fireplaces; timber ceiling. HOROSCOPE ROOM: 3rd Marquess of Bute's bedroom; extensive timber dado panelling William Frame. Astrological ceiling comprising plants and birds depicted in outer panels, 3-dimensional castellated circular frieze surrounding central depiction of astrological position of the planets at birth of 3rd Marquess of Bute (executed temporarily on tissue paper by Campbell; made permanent late 20th century, Tom Errington). DRAWING ROOM: subdivided by marble columnar screens to form 3 sections; principle fireplace Rowand Anderson, 1896; decorative frieze; coloured ceiling with heraldic emblems set in panels. SWIMMING POOL: marble columns centred in pool supporting Gothic, quadripartite rib-vaulted ceiling (polychrome detailing); glazed tiles; trefoil-headed opening to separate octagonal-columned, vaulted changing area. MARBLE CHAPEL: white marble-lined walls (Farmer & Brindley); engaged columns; foliate capitals; architraved, pointed-arched openings. Bronze altar; intricate carved timber organ surround; mosaic and marble Cosmati floor work; crimson-glazed octagonal tower modelled on Saragossa Cathedral.

Statement of Special Interest

A vast house, overwhelming in scale, with a mass of intricate detailing. Commissioned by the 3rd Marquess of Bute (who himself played a fundamental role in its design), Rowand Anderson's Mount Stuart could not have been further from McGill's original Palladian design. Much of the Gothic detailing is thought to derive inspiration from the architect's own publication - "EXAMPLES OF THE MUNICIPAL, COMMERCIAL AND STREET ARCHITECTURE OF FRANCE AND ITALY", 1868, in which Anderson made a series of measured drawings from these foreign secular sources. Mount Stuart's open gallery for example, bears strong affinity with the 14th century houses of Figeac. Towering above the low whitewashed wings, adorned with foliate carving, trefoil-headed openings, oriel windows, decorative wrought-iron and crocketed pinnacles, Mount Stuart's complexity has been tied to that of its commissioner - a solitary figure who converted to Catholicism at the age of 21. Inside, the dominant feature is the hall - a cube within a cube, lined with marble and lit by coloured glass. Throughout, luxury is taken to extremes - note the Horoscope bedroom, star-studded vaulted ceilings, marble chapel and columnar swimming pool. Interestingly, despite the clear advocation of mediaeval principles, Mount Stuart was equipped with the very latest conveniences. Not only was it the first house in Scotland to be lit by electricity, but a system of hot water pipes throughout the structure provided central heating. A telephone cable was installed in 1887 and the very latest plumbing system was serviced by a new waterworks built just 2 miles away. The swimming pool was the first ever heated pool to be contained within a house. Opened to the public June 1995. See separate list entries for other structures within the Mount Stuart estate. The boundary walls, gatepiers and gates are listed with North Lodge.



Original house appears on Ordnance Survey map, 1863; later house appears on Ordnance Survey map, 1897; W Adam VITRUVIUS SCOTICUS (reprinted 1980) plate 31 (McGill's design); G Stamp ROBERT WEIR SCHULTZ: ARCHITECT: AND HIS WORK FOR THE MARQUESSES OF BUTE (1981) p38; F Sinclair SCOTSTYLE: 150 YEARS OF SCOTTISH ARCHITECTURE (1984) p47-48, p72; SCOTTISH VICTORIAN INTERIORS (1986) p26-33; J MacCallum "WISH YOU WERE HERE": A PICTURE POSTCARD VIEW OF EDWARDIAN BUTE p28-29; S McKinstry ROWAND ANDERSON 'THE PREMIER ARCHITECT OF SCOTLAND' (1991) p78-80, 108, 111, 146-7, 160, 177; F Walker & F Sinclair NORTH CLYDE ESTUARY: AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1992) p166-7; M Hall 'Mount Stuart, Isle of Bute', COUNTRY LIFE June 15th 1995; MOUNT STUART HOUSE AND GARDENS, guidebook (1995); H Colvin A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS 1600-1840 (1995) p277, p630-631, p739; EUL Special Collections; NMRS photographic archives.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Printed: 20/04/2019 07:53