Listed Building

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Norwood Hall Hotel, excluding 2-storey extension to west and south, and 2-storey extension to east, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen LB15780

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NJ 90983 2973
390983, 802973


An 1881, 2-storey, 5-bay, asymmetric former villa by John Russell Mackenzie, with classical details and a distinctive central balustraded entrance porch, situated in extensive grounds and incorporating an earlier house of 1861. It is currently a hotel (2016). In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the 2-storey extension to the west and south and the 2-storey extension to the east.

The building is of white painted harl with contrasting sandstone margins and has a base course, band courses and a cornice. There are moulded architraves to the window openings and pedimented tripartite window openings at the first floor. The entrance (north) elevation has an advanced, slightly off-centre, balustraded porch with a pair of Doric columns and an internal 2-leaf entrance door with square glass panels. The outer bay to the right has a balustraded, tripartite bay window and the outer bay to the left has a tripartite window at the ground floor with Corinthian columns and with a balustrade to the window above. The pediment above has a decorative cartouche with intertwined initials 'J, C and O'.

The windows are predominantly plate glass in timber sash and case frames. The piended roof has grey slates, coped chimney stacks and a raised lightwell. There are coped ridge and wallhead chimney stacks.

The interior was seen in 2014 and has an outstanding decorative interior with many 19th century features. In the central hall is a timber imperial staircase with Corinthian columns which has decorative panelling to its underside, Corinthian pilasters at the first floor and a lantern light with coffered coving above. There is well detailed timberwork and plasterwork throughout the building including panelled and decorative plasterwork ceilings, intricate timber fire surrounds, some with overmantels, and panelling to a number of the rooms. Some of the cornicing has figurative decoration. The doors are panelled timber and many have intricately carved architraves and headers. The wall coverings to the hall and other public rooms include an unusual, richly embossed, patterned material, with a leatherlike appearance possibly by Scott Morton & Co.

Statement of Special Interest

Norwood Hall Hotel dates primarily to 1881, when the Aberdeen architect John Russell McKenzie remodelled and extended an 1861 house. The property has some good external stonework, particularly to its entrance elevation, with a distinctive porch, bay window and balustrading. Of particular note is the outstanding internal decorative scheme which retains many 19th century features, including an imposing imperial stair, extensive carved timberwork and embossed wall coverings. The hotel is situated to the immediate west of the site of the former Pitfodels Castle, which is recognised as nationally important as a Scheduled Monument (SM3744). This setting places the hotel at the historic heart of the Pitfodels area. Whilst there have been some 20th century additions to the property, the hotel retains much of its 19th century isolated setting within a large expanse of ground, overlooking the River Dee to the rear.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the 2-storey extension to the west and south and the 2-storey extension to the east.

Age and Rarity

Norwood House appears on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map, published in 1868, and is shown as a mainly rectangular building with a curved porch, situated close to the site of the former Pitfodels Castle (Scheduled Monument 3744). By the 1901 Ordnance Survey map, the house has been extended in all directions, and has a straight sided porch. The house became a hotel in 1972.

The land at Norwood Hall Hotel was bought in 1861 by Mrs Helen Morisson, the wife of Bailie William Adamson, a London Stockbroker and partner in Pitfodels Land Company. The property was sold in 1868 to John Taylor of Regents Park, London and shortly after, in 1872 the land was sold again to Colonel James "soapy" Ogston, a local soap manufacturer. It was Ogston who redeveloped the house in 1881, using John Russell McKenzie, a local architect. Colonel Ogston only lived here for a few years, before moving across the river, but he retained the house at Norwood.

Norwood Hall Hotel is situated in the Pitfodels area of Aberdeen. The rural Pitfodels estate, which stretched from Cults to the Bridge of Dee, was owned by the Menzies family since the 15th century. The family built Pitfodels Castle, the remains of which lie to the immediate east of the hotel, and are a Scheduled Monument (SM3744). From 1805 the last laird, John Menzies began to feu some of the estate and when he died in 1843, without any descendants the remaining estate was purchased by the Pitfodels Land Company. Brogden notes that the plots varied in size, but were as large as 8-10 acres along the side of the River Dee. An 1895 account describes it as follows "...The greater part of the lands of Pitfodels is now studded with beautiful mansions and villas, each of which stands amid well laid out and carefully kept grounds. They mostly belong to manufacturers and gentlemen engaged in business in Aberdeen, and retired gentlemen" (Mackintosh, p.29). Large villas surrounded by trees were erected in a number of the larger plots and these continue to be a feature of this area.

The period from 1870 -1905 was a boom time in the construction of domestic architecture in Scotland and villas were a popular building type, particularly in the suburbs of cities. Norwood Hall Hotel is a distinguished example of this common building type because of its decorative principal elevation and particularly its internal decoration.

Architectural or Historic Interest


There is excellent internal decoration in the hotel, particularly in the public rooms. Some of the wall coverings are richly coloured and have the appearance of leather. William Scott Morton, who was a well-known Edinburgh architect and designer was chosen to do some of the internal decoration. He patented a type of wallcovering called Tynecastle Canvas. This was an embossed leather-like material compound of canvas and paste which could be both given the appearance of age and tinted and gilded. It is likely that the wall coverings at the Hotel are the work of the firm of Scott Morton & Co.

The imperial staircase is very fine and is a dominant feature of the house. The Corinthian columns and pilasters add grandeur to the staircase as does the decorative panelling on the underside of the stair. The intricate timber carving to the doors, fire surrounds, alcoves and other areas is of a very high quality. Whilst a house of this status would normally have some well-detailed internal features, the ones here are very fine and intricate and appear to survive largely complete.

Plan form

Internally, the main staircase is situated towards the centre of the 19th century house, rising to the west, rather than opposite the entrance door. This positioning is perhaps slightly unusual. Otherwise the internal plan form is not exceptional, with the public rooms on the ground floor and the bedrooms on the upper floor. Externally, the 20th century extensions and additions have had some impact on the appearance of the former plan form, but the 1881 plan of the house is still clearly evident.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The painted exterior with ashlar margins is distinctive, but not exceptional. Large houses of this date like Norwood would usually have some decorative features to the exterior of the property and the ones employed here add to the interest of the property. The entrance elevation to the north is the most decorative of the elevations with good stonework. Of particular note is the balustraded porch, with the corresponding balustrade balcony to the west and balustrading to the window on the east. These add a grandeur to the property and present an imposing entrance to the house.

The pediments to the north and east break up the otherwise plain roofline. The initials, J, C and O are set within one of the pediments, which are likely to be those of those of James Ogston, who bought the house in 1872 and was responsible for its redevelopment.

John Russell McKenzie extensively remodelled and extended the old house in 1881. He was a local Aberdeen architect, who died in 1889 and whose practise included a number of churches, schools and private houses.


Norwood Hall Hotel is one of a number of large houses along Inchgarth Road set within a large plot of land around 100-200 metres back from the road. A lodge sits at the entrance to the property, which emphasises the status of the house. Norwood sits immediately to the west of the site of the 16th century Pitfodels Castle and this places the hotel at the historic heart of the Pitfodels area. Some of the hotel s setting has been compromised by the addition of later extensions to the building itself and also the addition of a separate building to the north. The rear of the hotel looks over the deep valley of the River Dee to the south and this, together with the surrounding grounds, gives the property an almost rural feel.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2016).

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016. Previously listed as Norwood, Garthdee Road .



Canmore: CANMORE ID 77013


Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1865, Published 1868) Kincardine Sheet IV.5. 25 Inches to the Mile map. 1st Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1899, Published 1901) Kincardineshire Sheet 007.02. 25 Inches to the Mile map. 2nd Edition. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Printed Sources

Brogden, W. A. (1986) Aberdeen, An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Edinburgh: The Rutland Press. p. 168.

Fraser, G.M. (1921) The Old Deeside Road. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press. p.31.

Sharples, J., Walker, D. and Woodworth, A. (2015) The Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire: South and Aberdeen. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p.297-8.

Internet Sources

Dictionary of Scottish Architects. William Scott Morton at (accessed 19/03/2015).

Dictionary of Scottish Architects. John Russell MacKenzie at (accessed 24/03/2015).

Mackintosh, J. (1895) History of the valley of the Dee, from the earliest times to the present day at (accessed 21/04/2016).

Aberdeen City Council (2015) Pitfodels Conservation Area Character Appraisal at (accessed 04/03/2015).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

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These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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Norwood Hall Hotel, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen, entrance elevation, looking south, during daytime with dull sky.


Map of Norwood Hall Hotel, excluding 2-storey extension to west and south, and 2-storey extension to east, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen

Printed: 06/04/2020 15:16