Loch Lomond And Trossachs National Park Planning Authority
Originally dating from the mid 18th century, but much altered and enlarged. Gartmore House is prominently situated to the NE of Gartmore village at the top of a hill overlooking the Forth Valley. A substantial country house set in its own grounds, it is roughcast with dressed stone margins, steeply pitched French pavilion and mansard roofs and a generous use of balustrading. The NW (entrance) elevation is composed of a 2-storey with basement and attic main block with a 3-stage frontispiece tower to centre, flanked by single and 2-storey wings with flat roofs and balustraded parapets. The SE elevation, which looks out over formal terraced lawns, is on lower ground than the entrance, and is 2-storey with a generous basement and attic. It is composed of a central section of 5 bays, with 2 broad, full-height canted bays of 3 windows to the SW and NE ends, which dominate the façade.
Gartmore House was the seat of the Graham family until 1900. It began as a restrained 2-storey and basement mansion until it was enlarged by John Baxter Junior in 1779-80, who added the canted bays to the SE front. In 1900 Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham ('Don Roberto', see Notes), sold the estate to Sir Charles Cayzer, the shipping magnate. Cayzer commissioned David Barclay to entirely reconstruct the house in 1901-2, removing everything but the outside walls and adding the entrance tower and mansard roofs. Thoms & Wilkie of Dundee carried out further alterations to the wings in 1910. The house is recognised for its interesting multi-phase history, the involvement of a series of well-known architects and its associations with the Graham and Cayzer families, including Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham.
The NW (entrance) elevation is dominated by a highly ornamented 3-stage tower, machicolated, with a balustraded parapet and crenellated circular stair tower. Central round-arched doorway, with pedimented tripartite window and round-arched bipartite windows above. Above the door, the Cayzer family motto: CAUTE SED IMPAVIDE ('cautiously but fearlessly'). To the right is the inscription set within an aedicule: 'GARTMORE HOUSE, ENTIRELY REBUILT EXCEPT OUTSIDE WALLS BY SIR CHARLES CAYZER MP, 1901 1902, DAVID BARCLAY FRIBA, ARCHITECT GLASGOW.'
The main block has pedimented roof dormers to both the NW and SE elevations, some with vaguely Art Nouveau ornament, above plain ashlar corniced parapets.
The wings were raised in 1910 by Thoms & Wilkie of Dundee to 2 storeys, with single storey outshots. They also added 2-storey extensions set into the S and E re-entrants between these wings and the main block. In the S re-entrant, below the upper floor, there is a 2-storey round-arched loggia, balconied at 1st floor.
All the principal rooms have timber-panelled walls, low-relief plastered ceilings and broken Baroque pediments over doorways framed by lugged architraves from the 1901-2 rebuilding. Timber panelled vestibule in Barclay's 1901-2 entrance tower, with Art Nouveau stained glass to screen door, leads into a long central entrance hall with painted oak panelling to door height. Oak-panelled chimneypiece and overmantle with fireplace roll-and-hollow-moulded surround of green-veined marble. Substantial timber staircase with Mannerist forms in the balustrades and newel posts. There are a series of principal rooms, of which those currently used as a chapel and drawing room are situated in the canted outer bays at either end of the SE (garden) elevation, and look out over the terraced lawns and Forth Valley. In the SW outer wing is the Cayzer Room, with an impressive painted frieze depicting historic ships. The house now serves as a hotel, and the 1st floor bedrooms have all been comprehensively modernised.
Roughcast walls with ashlar margins, parapets, eaves cornice, quoin strips and balustrades. Graded grey slated roofs. Impressive recessed timber and glazed panelled doorpiece in NW entrance tower with side lights and semicircular fanlight with decorative Art Nouveau stained glass. Predominantly timber sash and case windows, those to the ground floor are set in round-arched, keystoned openings. Distinctive wall-head ashlar stacks; corbelled, consoled, pedimented and corniced. Some cast-iron rainwater goods with decorative hoppers.
Former Stable Block
To the NW of the house is a much altered 2-storey, U-shaped former stable block. It is composed of a central 3-bay block with decorative pediment, clock and bellcote to centre, Cayzer coat of arms below. There are gablets over outer windows above eaves level. 2 flanking blocks with large glazed areas to ground floor, possibly originally garage doors. Unusually, the eaves of dormer pediments over 1st floor windows project well beyond the wall planes. The courtyard is enclosed by a curtain wall with central gateway composed of ashlar segmental-arch with cornice, raised entablature to centre and a pair of timber gates, flanked by lower wing walls with blind window openings. 2 wrought-iron weathervanes to apex of bellcote and top of gateway with pennants, dated 1902 and 1793 respectively. Rendered with ashlar dressings, multipane timber sash and case windows, piended slate roofs and tall ashlar corniced stacks. Although the stable block appears on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (1859-64), and may originally date from 1793, it was extensively remodelled in 1902 and enlarged in the 1950s with the addition of a large sports hall and dormitories to the rear (SW).
Gardens, Terraces, Balustrade and Boundary Walls
The house is surrounded its own designed landscape. To the SE, there are terraced lawns, defined by long balustrading similar to that forming the parapets of the house. There is a walled garden at some distance to the NE (see separate listing) and parkland with woods and lakes beyond, much of which is now in separate ownership.
The policies are bounded by random rubble walls, in varying degrees of repair, with copes set on end. There are 2 formal entrances to the estate: via Gartartan Lodge (1902) from the NE (separately listed) and from the SW through the 1790 Village Gate (separately listed). There are 2 further entrances: Crinigart Lodge to the NW (not listed, 2004) and South Lodge to the SE (not listed, 2004). Both have square-plan gatepiers with ashlar capstones.
Statement of Special Interest
Gartmore House is part of a B-Group together with the Walled Garden, Burial Enclosure, Village Gate and Gartartan Lodge.
There has been a house on the site since before the Graham family acquired the land from the first Earl of Stirling in 1644. William Adam prepared plans for a house for Nicol Graham in circa 1740-5 which appeared as Plate 83 in Vitruvius Scoticus. However it seems doubtful if he designed the house as built. Nicol Graham and his descendants carried out improvements to the Gartmore estate. As well as employing John Baxter Junior to enlarge the house (a sketch of Gartmore House appears in the margin of James Stobie's map of the counties of Perth and Clackmannan, 1783), they laid out the planned estate village of Gartmore, and improved the Gartmore policies by building the Village Gate and Walled Garden.
The last Graham laird of Gartmore was Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936), politician, writer, traveller and horseman, also known as 'Don Roberto', who is commemorated at the Cunninghame Graham Memorial in Gartmore village (see separate listing). Struggling financially, he reluctantly sold the estate in 1900.
The 1901-2 alterations by David Barclay (1846-1917) were carried out after he sold the property to the Cayzers. Barclay was a Glasgow-based architect, who with his older brother, Hugh Barclay operated as H & D Barclay, principally a school-building practice. Barclay also worked on Gartartan Lodge and Gartmore Church (see separate list descriptions).
The estate was commandeered by the army during World War II, and after the war, the Cayzer family did not return. In the early 1950s developers sold off parts of the estate, and the house became a List D school. At that time the outbuildings were added to provide classrooms. Since 1997 Gartmore House has been run as a conference and activity centre.
The 17th century sundial which was originally located in the forecourt of Gartmore House is now located in the Cayzer family burial ground behind Gartmore Parish Church (see separate list description).