John A Bruce and William B Peace, (designed by Alexander Malcolm Sutherland Graeme and Margaret Isabel Neale), 1874-1898. 2-storey and attic 6 x 4-bay Scots Jacobean asymmetrical crowstepped-gabled manor house and chapel with various additions to rear forming courtyard. Replaces earlier single storey 16th century house and subsequently a 2-storey house with attic, 1626; 1874-6, existing S block demolished and present block erected over former courtyard; 1896-8, pedimented and scroll-sided dormers added to 1870s S block, 17th century N block replaced, small service courtyard to E added, single storey chapel forming S range added; 19th century additions incorporating 17th century details, (see Notes). Harled. String course between ground and 1st floors. Chamfered reveals to mullioned and transomed windows; finialled, pedimented dormers; modillioned wallhead stack and oriel windows to W elevation.
W (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 6-bay, grouped 2-2-1-1 with parapeted single storey entrance bay between crowstepped-gabled blocks. Roll-moulded round-arched doorpiece with mullioned 2-pane fanlight in advanced entrance block to centre; dormer window behind parapet above. 3-light window at ground in gabled bay to right; oriel window at 1st floor; attic window to gablehead above. Tripartite window at ground in gabled bay to left; centred bracketed wallhead stack rising through gable apex; 2 bracketed and pedimented windows bearing initials 'MSG' and 'MIN' flanking at 1st floor; 2 attic windows flanking to gablehead above. 2-bay block set back to outer left: small stair window at each floor in bay to right; non-aligned dormer window above. Window at each floor in bay to outer left.
S (GARDEN) ELEVATION: 4-bay main block with single storey 2-bay chapel to right. 3-light parapeted square bay spanning bays to left at ground; window in each bay at 1st floor; dormer, set between above. Large 2-light window at ground, single window at 1st floor, dormer above in each bay to right. Chapel: tripartite window in each bay.
REAR (COURTYARD) ELEVATIONS: irregularly fenestrated single and 2-storey rear elevations incorporating small courtyard and some 17th century features, (see Notes).
INTERIOR: now used as private museum. Encaustic tiled vestibule floor; glazed, timber framed vestibule screen with leaded stained glass panels flanking 2-leaf door; bossed architraves to timber panelled doors; timber skirtings; operational timber panelled shutters throughout at ground, (1st floor unseen). Drawing room: deep cornice with egg and dart border; timber panelling below windows. Dining room: modillioned cornice with egg and dart border; shutters to mullion reveals; deep, boarded display recess to S wall; larger, carved timber panelled display recess to N wall. Breakfast room: egg and dart cornice; timber fire surround with fluted capitals below cornice. Library: timber architraved, full height purpose bookshelves; anthemion cornice. Timber dogleg main staircase with timber balusters, handrail and octagonal, panelled newel post; timber dogleg back staircase with timber handrail, turned balusters and newel posts.
CHAPEL INTERIOR: simple rectangular chapel with carved timber alter, raised on stepped platform to E end; boarded and fielded ceiling; wall mounted grave slab to N and W walls (see Notes); stained glass leaded window to S, (see Notes).
BOUNDARY WALLS AND GATEPIERS: rubble coped boundary walls; square-plan sandstone ashlar gatepiers with pyramidal concrete caps, sited to E of main house.
WALLED GARDENS: large square-plan walled garden with coursed rubble walls sited to N of house; tall square-plan piers with concrete copes; remnants of greenhouse walls in S wall. Further garden, sunken to centre, to S (front) of house, (possibly a 15th century courtyard design, now gone). Rubble wall incorporating roll-moulded round-arched doorway from the 17th century house. Monumental statues, Faith Hope and Charity along E wall, (see Notes).
Statement of Special Interest
The historical and physical development of Graemeshall is complex. In 1615, Bishop George Graham moved from Dunblane to Orkney and constructed houses at Skaill, Breckness and Meil. His son-in-law, Patrick Smith of Braco, occupied Meil until it passed to his forth son, also called Patrick, who sold it on to his uncle, Patrick Graham of Rothiesholm. Thus, Meil became Graham's Hall, James Graeme later altering the spelling. The late 19th century saw the house renovated by the Sutherland Graemes, who retained it until the middle of this century. Its physical development has been noted above, with its present form emerging in the later 19th century. The north range of the rear, kitchen courtyard bears many features from the earlier stages of the house. The gabled and roll-moulded doorpiece came originally form the north of the old house and was moved here in 1896-8; it was heightened in the 1870s and bears a red sandstone panel, inscribed '1626 PATEAS AMICIS'. A small slitlike window to its right looks 17th century; certainly 17th century is the flanking carved stone with the arms and initials of Bishop George Graham which used to be above the old courtyard's E entrance. A moulded tympanum from a dormer, dated 1644, is also preserved in the wall of the kitchen wing. The main doorpiece to the W elevation was the 17th century entrance to the courtyard, heightened and given a transom light in 1874-6. The chapel of St Margaret of Antioch and Scotland is Episcopalian in denomination and bears stained glass windows depicting the two saints, probably dated 1898. Against the N wall stands a medieval graveslab from Holm Parish Church, carved with a Celtic cross. The W wall displays another, similarly dated graveslab incised with three swords, (the arms of the Orkney family of Magnuson or Mason), a similar stone existing at Finlaggan, Isaly. The colossal statues of Faith Hope and Charity lining the E boundary wall of the garden in front of the house originally adorned the roofline of the Y M C A building in Inverness (1868), and were removed here upon its demolition.
Appears on 1st edition OS map (1882); J R Tudor, THE ORKNEYS AND SHETLAND, THEIR PAST AND PRESENT STATE (1883) p 281;
P S Graeme, PATEAS AMICIS, THE STORY OPF GRAEMESHALL IN ORKNEY (1936); RCAMS VOL II (1946), p 102, pp 108-9; Kirkwall Archive, Miscellaneous Vol I/28, THE HISTORY OF HOLM (1977); L Burgher, ORKNEY, AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1991), p 33;
A Ritchie, ORKNEY (1996) p 66; J Mackay, (publisher), ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO ORKNEY AND SHETLAND (no date), p37;
N Hudson (compiler), POSTCARDS FROM ORKNEY, No 120; NMRS Photographic Records, O/5031, O/5032, A26471, A38984PO.
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Printed: 16/01/2019 10:31