John Smith of Darnick, 1820 with mid 19th century additions and some late 18th century fabric to rear (see Notes). 2-storey, 4-bay, gabled villa comprising rectangular-plan 1820 Cottage Ornee to S with Doric porch and a variety of window styles; 18th century cottage and single storey outbuilding adjoining to N corner; mid 19th century double-gabled addition in re-entrant angle, forming stepped composition to W (front). Roughly-coursed squared, pink rubble with cream sandstone ashlar dressings. Fairly irregular fenestration with predominantly long and short margins; some raised ashlar margins to 1820 section; 2 flat-roofed dormers breaking eaves to S elevation. Long and short quoins.
W (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 1820 cottage to right: timber panelled front door at ground to left with lead-roofed timber Doric porch; small pointed window above with shutters; slightly advanced bipartite, hoodmoulded window to right; shuttered window above. 2 regularly fenestrated gables stepped forward to centre and left. Single storey outbuilding recessed to outer left.
S (SIDE) ELEVATION: canted window to right, hoodmoulded window to left, dormers to attic.
E (GARDEN) ELEVATION: 1820 cottage to left: advanced bipartite bay window at ground to left; small window to right; arched window with decorative glazing above. Irregularly fenestrated narrow gable of original cottage (see Notes) to right with L-plan piend-roofed ancillary range advanced at ground, irregularly fenestrated with doors and windows. Double gable behind.
N (REAR) ELEVATION: U-plan arrangement of irregularly fenestrated buildings around service courtyard with piend-roofed ancillary building advanced to left and stone garage advanced to right.
Predominantly timber sash and case windows with lying-pane glazing to later gabled wing and small-pane glazing to 1820 cottage; timber casements to 1st floor of 1820 cottage. Coped stacks with yellow clay cans. Deep bracketed eaves; plain bargeboards to mid-19th century wing. Graded grey slate.
INTERIOR: lying-pane half-glazed timber panelled lobby door. Stone staircase through archway in 1820 wing; timber staircase in later wing. Some marble fireplaces. Alcove in entrance hall. Built-in bookshelves in back drawing room of 1820 wing. Reeded doorframes in 1820 wing. Plain Georgian cornicing.
WALLED GARDEN: to E of house. Roughly rectangular. Random rubble walls to W, N and E; round-arched gateway to E wall. Low coped wall to S with decorative cast-iron railings. Simple ashlar gatepiers at SE corner of house.
BRIDGE: single arch bridge to SE of house. Random rubble with ashlar arch. Low coped parapet with plain 20th century railings.
MONKS WELL: to SE of house by burn. Small well with cusped window head from Melrose Abbey forming wellhead
Statement of Special Interest
Built by Sir Walter Scott for his daughter Sophia and her husband John Lockhart soon after their marriage in 1820. They lived at Chiefswood in the summer months until 1826, when they moved to London following Lockhart's appointment as Editor of the Quarterly Review. It was a favourite place of retreat for Sir Walter, who rode over frequently from Abbotsford and wrote much of his novel 'The Pirate' in the dressing room over the front door. The house is not a sophisticated piece of architecture, but nevertheless has considerable merit and charm in both its exterior and interior detailing. The connection with Scott gives it undoubted historical importance, as does the connection with Lockhart, who was also an important author and is best known for his 'Life of Scott'.
The evolution of the house is rather confused. When Scott purchased the property in about 1817 it consisted of a small 18th century cottage called Burnfoot. He then commissioned John Smith of Darnick to extend the cottage to make a suitable house for the Lockharts, and this is recorded in Smith's Diary under the entry for 19th June 1820 'met Sir Walter Scott at Darnick Burn, who told me he wanted the cottage made less'. The next day he noted that the Lockharts and Scotts were 'much pleased with the modified plan'. The generally accepted view is that the original cottage is the broad-gabled section containing the front door, and that Smith's addition is the double-gabled section to the side. This, however, seems unlikely on several counts. Firstly, the entrance wing is much too large to have ever been a farm-labourer's cottage; secondly, the double-gabled wing is not shown on Turner's painting of 1831. Turner's painting, which is of the west elevation, shows the entrance wing and a lower gabled block recessed to the left of it. This lower gable is likely to have been the original cottage, and almost certainly corresponds with the random rubble gable visible from the East. The double gable is almost certainly a mid-19th century addition, and may have been designed by Smith, who was the principal local builder, although there is no mention of it in his diary.
The piece of carved stone over the Monks Well is believed to have been part of a window head taken from Melrose Abbey by Sir Walter Scott.
List description updated at resurvey (2010).