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- Date Added
- Local Authority
- Planning Authority
- National Park
- NJ 31465 10767
- 331465, 810767
1727; dormer windows and rear additions 1857 (RIAS says 1845); restored 1975-6, builder Alastair Harper; 2004 link kitchen added, architect Michael Rasmussen, Rasmussen Associates, Aboyne, contractor Mike Forbes, Aboyne (see Notes), interior reworked by Mikhail Pietranek, Ballater. Restored, tall 2-storey and attic, 5-bay, T-plan laird's house retaining original fine character, with stone dormerheads flanking advanced gabled wings (forming U-plan front) with glazed arrowslits in gableheads, roll-moulded doorpiece with oval transom light and armorial panel dated 1770. Harl over rubble walls comprising large field boulders with small pinnings. Granite dressings and chamfered arrises. 2-leaf panelled timber door with decorative ironwork latch.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: symmetrical entrance elevation to SE with door to centre at ground, regular fenestration, and 3 dormer windows rising from eaves. Advanced gable to centre of rear elevation incorporating re-entrant angle to right with 2004 glass-walled kitchen link (facing SW) and adjoining single storey and attic gabled garage wing of 1970s.
12-pane glazing pattern in replacement timber sash and case windows with secondary double glazing. Graded grey slates and stone ridge. Coped, squared rubble stacks with thackstanes; ashlar-coped skews with moulded skewputts; stone finials.
INTERIOR: gutted prior to 1975-6 restoration. 2004 reinstatement of cornices, moulded skirtings and architraves. 2 principal ground floor rooms (each formerly divided) in main rectangular block of single room depth. Central dog-leg staircase rises to attic storey. Original granite fireplace survives at 1st floor bedroom. Hall floor of reclaimed pitch pine, rear hall canted. Small space with glazed arrowslit accessed through wall thickness in SE attic bedrooms.
SKELLATER COTTAGE: single storey (formerly with attic), 3-bay, rectangular-plan traditional cottage. Coursed squared granite rubble with slate roof, 12-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows and timber door. Interior with monumental fireplace arch (see Notes).
Statement of Special Interest
Sited on a gentle slope close to the Lonach Hill, Skellater House dominates its long front garden overlooking the River Don. It is an outstanding early laird's house, the exterior of which has survived remarkably intact despite being used as a hay store from circa 1900 to the 1970s. The change of category from 'A' to 'B' is prompted by the fact that prior to renovation in the mid 1970s, the interior was virtually a shell, although sympathetic restoration work (carried out during 2004-5) has effected the replacement of more appropriate, traditional interior detailing. Skellater House is without doubt a 'major example' of its building style, which with its replacement interior is of regional importance. The single room depth was originally sub-divided, and the interior was entirely recast, probably in the late 18th century. The staircase was formerly embellished with the ground and first floor approaches framed within paired semicircular arches supported on square fluted posts, with high panelled bases and moulded capitals enriching the three posts at first floor.
Skellater was built by Lachlan Forbes in 1727. Set over the front door is a pink sandstone armorial panel within a moulded granite frame, probably replacing an earlier panel. The current panel is dated MDCCLXX (1780), possibly the date of renewal. The coat of arms is that of the Forbes' of Skellater, and the motto 'Solus inter Plurimos' translates as 'Alone amongst many'. This is thought to refer to the fact that the Skellater Forbes' held differing religious beliefs from their own clan and joined with the Gordon Forbes clan, in supporting the Jacobite cause. George Forbes of Skellater fought at Culloden and died in Bolougne in October 1767. John Forbes of Skellater married a Portuguese princess and became a Field Marshal in the Portuguese army; he died in Brazil in 1809. Prior to falling into disrepair, Skellater House, and the estate, had been acquired by the Newe branch of the Forbes family, and by the later 19th century was only occasionally occupied during the shooting season. The Federation of Master Builders Craftmanship Award was made to Mike Forbes for his work on the 2004 kitchen, which has also been nominated for an Aberdeenshire Council Design Award.
Skellater Cottage is an interesting and rare survivor with a very fine voussoired fireplace arch comparable with that in a similar sized dwelling adjoining Bellabeg House. Fenton and Walker say of this type of structure that 'the scale [is] more suitable for the great hall of a tower house or castle'. The only other examples identified during the 2005 resurvey were at West Tornahaish and Mains of Glencarvie in Strathdon Parish, and at Badenyon Begg's House and Dulax in Glenbuchat Parish. There is a further striking example with well cut voussoirs at an 1822 farmhouse in Glenfenzie.
New Statistical Account (1860), Vol 12 p547. I Shepherd RIAS Gordon (1994), p69. A Harper 'The Adventures of Ian Roy', Scots Magazine, (February 2003). Information courtesy of owner. NMRS Report by G D Hay 21.6.68. R Winram The Land of Lonach (1986). Fenton & Walker The Rural Architecture of Scotland (1981), pp201-2. www.treasuresofbritain.org/ForbesClan2.htm. J Geddes Deeside and The Mearns (2001), p 147.
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Printed: 16/01/2019 16:09