Drummore House is a two-storey and attic, three-bay neoclassical villa built around 1750 with a two-storey wing adjoining the west elevation built in the early 19th century and altered and extended throughout that century. The interior has some fine ornate decorative plaster and carved timberwork dating from the mid-18th century.
The house is constructed in tooled coursed pink sandstone rubble (possibly originally harled) with polished dressings. There is a base course moulded eaves course and the corners have long and short quoins. The windows have moulded ashlar architraves. The first floor windows have triangular pediments and the central window of the south elevation has a broken pediment with a shell motif.
The central bays of the north and south elevations are slightly advanced and both are surmounted by a triangular pediment with an inscription (from James Thomson s The Seasons ) set in high relief foliate cartouche and topped by urns. The central bay of the south elevation is flanked by Doric pilasters and the inscription in the pediment reads Deo Patriae Amicis - Seise the Plow and Greatly Independant Live . The north elevation's pediment has a scroll reading Steddy above the inscription reading, All is the Gift of Industry, whatever exalts, embellishes and renders life delightfull. Pensive Winter cheard by him that sits at the social fire, and happy hears the excluded tempest idly rave along .
The south elevation has an advanced and central, flat-roofed entrance porch with a two-leaf, panelled timber door and plate glass rectangular fanlight. This porch was added around 1880 and the original entrance doorpiece was relocated to the garden wall. The porch is flanked by bull's eye windows.
The right bay of the north elevation is slightly obscured by the adjoining two-storey early 19th century wing, including a canted bay at the first floor in the re-entrant angle
The east elevation is symmetrical with a bowed central bay which is corbelled out forming a canted bay at the second floor. There is a Venetian window at the first floor of the bowed bay.
Adjoining the west elevation and set back is a two-storey wing dating to the early 19th century. It is built in stugged, squared and snecked rubble with droved ashlar dressings. The west elevation is three-bays wide with an advanced and pedimented central bay. The central and right ground floor windows have been enlarged to create entrances. During the 19th century the east side of this wing was rebuilt and brought forward and the wall-height of this wing has been raised.
The windows are predominantly a 12-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case frames. The attic windows have a six-pane glazing pattern. The roofs have grey slates and some of the rainwater goods are cast iron. There are tooled and corniced ashlar ridge and wallhead chimney stacks with decorative octagonal cans.
The interior was seen in 2016, and has some fine, ornate decorative plaster and carved timberwork dating from the mid-18th century. The entrance hall is dominated by a half turn staircase leading to a first floor gallery. The main stair has barley twist bannisters and a timber handrail. Over the entrance hall is a deeply coved ceiling with decorative and foliate plasterwork. Flanking the entrance door are round arched alcoves with a moulded architrave with a shell keystone and a large shell set in the alcove above the bull's eye window. There is a large first floor drawing room, to the east side of the building, with an 18th century decorative scheme. There is a 19th century white marble Rococo fireplace surrounding a metal grate. Over the fireplace is a large mirror with an egg and dart architrave and topped by a timber carving incorporating a head, bow and arrows. Set in the wall above the fireplace are elaborately carved wood trophies of law, agriculture, governance and music. This is all flanked by giant fluted Ionic pilasters supporting a deep bracketed cornice. The window bay, opposite the fireplace, is flanked by Ionic pilasters and its ceiling of the window bay has foliate plasterwork and a cornice with a shell motif. The interior doors are predominantly panelled and timber and some panelled window shutters survive. Much of the interior decoration and fixtures in the early 19th century wing, and some rooms in the 18th century block, has been stripped back to the walls.
Adjoining the east elevation of the house is a sandstone rubble and red brick garden wall. It has a doorway surmounted by a bracketed segmental pediment with the inscription reading Home is the Resort of Love, of Joy, of Peace, of Plenty, Where Supporting and Supported, Polished Friends and Dear Relations Mingle into Bliss .
To the west of the house is a stone circular well.
Statement of Special Interest
Drummore House is a fine example of a smaller neoclassical villa from the mid-18th century. In plan form and design it defines the classical ideal for a country house of this size and importantly it predates the villa building boom of the late 18th century.
While Drummore House has been incrementally altered and added to by its later owners, it is notable that its mid-18th century classical core remains substantially intact in both plan and elevation. The interior, while not retaining a complete 18th scheme, retains some fine ornate decorative plaster and carved timberwork, and fixtures and fittings dating from the mid-18th century in its two principal rooms.
Age and Rarity
Drummore House is a neoclassical villa built around 1750, replacing a smaller house that was destroyed in the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745. The house and estate are shown on General Roy's Military Survey Map, drawn around 1752.
Following the Restoration of the monarchy to the throne in 1660 a new type of grand country house architecture began to establish itself in Scotland. There was a move away from the defensive architecture of the tower house and completely new house types began to appear in the 1670s. The ideals of Classicism and the antique based on Greek and Roman precedents were serious architectural considerations and new European (in particular French, Dutch and Italian) as well as English architecture was eagerly followed.
At the more modest end of the scale, smaller country seats were conceived in the new fashion for convenience as well as opulence and a number of impressive new estates were built around Edinburgh to ensure easy access to Parliament and the law courts. The Scottish Enlightenment (during the 18th and early 19th century) led to a great increase in building activity with rising minor lairds and landed classes who were occupied with the law or business in the capital building small country houses within close distance to Edinburgh.
Drummore (or Drummohr) was named by its owner Hew Dalrymple of Drummore, Lord Drummore (1690–1755) a lawyer who bought an estate at Westpans in 1733. The Dalrymples were a prominent aristocratic family in Edinburgh during the Scottish Enlightenment.
The architect of Drummore house is not known. In their conservation plan for the house, Simpson and Brown state that it does not bear any hallmarks of a recognised architect and it may have been the work of a master mason or designed by Dalrymple himself, perhaps partly based on the earlier house (Simpson and Brown, pp.14 and 16). The publication of architectural sources or pattern books from the early 18th century meant it was not unusual for an owner or craftsman to design their own house. Dalrymple was well connected and well informed and with such credentials he may have designed Drummore himself.
One of the earliest and pioneering architectural publications was George Jameson's 'Thirty-three Designs with the Orders of Architecture According to Palladio' published in 1765. This became more influential when 23 of the designs in this book were reprinted in 'The Rudiments of Architecture or The Young Workman's Instructor' published in 1772. The late 18th century saw a boom period for residential building with designs from the book becoming the standard pattern for manses, farmhouses and villas.
The design of what remains of the 18th century Drummore House almost matches exactly plate 32 in Jameson's book. Like all the other plates, the house is not labelled, except for floor annotations. The house is shown with its plan reversed in the engraving process (known as handing), with a variance in the state stair and its piano nobile storey (first floor) landings.
Lord Drummore died in 1755 and the estate was inherited by his son, David Dalrymple. In 1762 it was sold to Rev Robert Finlay of Wallyford.
On a 1764 estate plan the footprint of the house is shown as a rectangular block flanked by two small rectangular plan wings. Wings or small pavilions were often connected to the neoclassical country house by screen walls. Simpson and Brown suggest that these wings may have been a later addition by David Dalrymple. Curiously the bowed bays on the west and east elevation are not shown on this plan, but are shown on the 1809 estate plan. Projecting bows were a feature of mid-18th century houses, as can be seen at Cally House near Kirkcudbright, built in 1763-5 (Cruft, p.52.). As they are shown on the Jameson plate they are likely to have be part of the original design of the house.
The estate was passed to Captain David Findlay in the 1790s, and then sold to William Aitchison in 1808. The 1809 estate survey shows the footprint of the house with matching bow ends to the east and west elevations and the east wing (shown on the 1764 plan) had been demolished.
On the 1764 estate plan the offices (stables and ancillary buildings) are arranged around a courtyard and shown to the southwest of the house. A linear east approach drive is also shown, but the west and east lodge are not. On the 1809 estate plan the courtyard offices have been replaced with a group of irregularly arranged farm buildings. Some of these buildings survive and have been converted into dwellings and this grouping has grown by the addition of other buildings.
The Garden History Society in 2012 state that in 1808 William Aitchison extended the house, demolishing the west bow and adding a two-storey west wing. Some fabric of the west wing survives in the westernmost set of rooms in the west wing and its basement (Simpson and Brown, p.30). The Garden History Society also note that Aitchison created the west driveway and constructed the west lodge around 1810 (p.27). The west lodge is first shown on 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map (surveyed 1853).
Colonel William Aitchieson succeeded to his father's (William Senior) property in 1846 as noted in Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland of 1888. The footprint of the house on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map and 1882 drawings by John Watherson and Sons indicate that the west wing was altered and increased in size incrementally during the 19th century. A canted window, above the bow bay on the east elevation, has also been added during this period.
In 1882 John Watherson and Sons carried out major alterations to the west wing, including rebuilding the eastern section and raising its height. Changes to the main house were limited to the insertion of a partition in the former principal bedchamber on the first floor and a porch was added to the south elevation, with the original mid-18th century pedimented doorpiece being relocated in the garden wall adjoining the east elevation.
In the 20th century the estate and house changed hands and use numerous times. In 1927 it was purchased by Loretto School for use as a Girls' School. The house was let to the Catholic Church in 1932 and used by Passionist Fathers, with the land leased to a local farmer in 1943. In the 1970s the house became a hotel and by 1996 it was in use as a care home for the elderly with 60 residents before lying unoccupied.
Between 1926 and 1938 a variety of architectural drawings survive showing internal partitions to the house and west wing and substantial additions, such as those shown in drawings from 1938 by Lorimer and Matthew. However these additions were not carried and only a chapel was built with a connecting corridor to the east side of the house around 1938. This has now been removed. Any later internal partitions have been largely removed before 2001 and in 2015.
Drummore House is a fine example of a smaller classical country seat. It is among a relatively small number of houses surviving from the early to mid-18th century and is important in helping our understanding of the development of the country house building type. It defines the classical ideal for a country house of this size and importantly it predates the residential building boom of the late 18th century and the significant change in classicism that occurred after 1760, stimulated by the Adam Brothers and their contemporaries. McWilliam in the Buildings of Scotland: Lothian describes Drummore as one of the most important, unattributed houses in East Lothian. While the architect is not attributed, it is likely that it was designed by Hew Dalrymple for himself and it is significant that his plans appear in influential 18th century publications of classical house designs.
While Drummore House has been incrementally altered and added to by its later owners, it is notable that its mid-18th century classical core remains substantially intact in both plan and elevation. Some fine mid-18th century decoration survives to the principal rooms of the interior which is also rare.
Architectural or Historic Interest
The interior, while not retaining a complete 18th scheme, retains some fine ornate decorative plaster and carved timberwork, and fixtures and fittings dating from the mid-18th century in its two principal rooms. The entrance hall and first floor drawing room have the greatest degree of survival of the mid-18th century decorative scheme. In these rooms, as well the exterior of the building, shells are a recurring decorative motif. This is an indication of the partronage of the house as shells have an association with the Dalrymples and are a constant theme at another Dalrymple family house, Newhailes.
The first floor drawing room originally had a Rococo plaster ceiling with foliage and fruit extending towards the corners where there was a low relief for each season in an oval frame.
The other rooms have a greater degree of alteration and much of the interior decoration and fixtures, particularly in the west wing, has been stripped back to the walls because of a dry rot outbreak in the late 20th century. Where fixtures and fittings survive, such as fireplaces, window shutters and plain cornicing they largely date to the 19th century and are standard for this date.
The plan form of Drummore House is a double pile compact classical plan, which is characteristic for a house of this scale in the mid-18th century. Importantly the classical plan form is still largely intact and relates closely to that shown on the Jameson's plate (1765).
In Scotland, the trend for symmetrical and deepening floor plans which addressed the new function of separating the private from the public sphere in the house began at Panmure in 1666. At Drummore the plan form is symmetrical with services rooms on the ground floor, a piano nobile with a French apartment sequence of rooms (drawing room, state bedchamber and then cabinet) and bed chambers with adjoining dressing rooms on the attic floor which is accessed by a smaller staircase.
The main alterations to this plan are minor and include the loss of a partition in the ground floor east room in the 19th century to create a dining room and the loss of some of the partitions in the attic floor.
A compact country house was designed for short stays and would not have required extensive accommodation. The addition of a large wing, as seen here, was not unusual in order to increase space and to separate the service function from the employer. In its present form it demonstrates the development from an 18th century compact classical house to 19th century living and the earlier plan remains readable.
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
The 18th century house has outstanding classical detailing and proportions and has been little-altered to its south, east and north elevations and roofline. Of particular interest is the survival of the bowed bay to the east elevation and the elaborately decorative pediments. The pediment in the boundary wall was originally above the south elevation's entrance door. It was moved to the garden wall when the entrance porch was added.
The inscriptions in the central pediments on the north and south elevation are taken from The Seasons by James Thomson (1700-48). This was previously echoed in the plaster decoration of the first floor drawing room ceiling. Thomson, is now chiefly remembered as the author of 'Rule Britannia' but his Seasons poem was very popular in the 18th century, running into many editions and being translated into German, in which it became the basis of the libretto for Haydn's Oratorio.
Professor Peter Davidson asserts that Drummore is an example of a 'speaking' or emblematic house. These are houses that feature panels, usually over doors, with an aphorism (a concise statement or principle, which contains a general truth or it an astute observation) (Simpson and Brown, p.25 and 26).
Speaking houses are more common in the 17th century. After the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 and the decisive defeat at Culloden in 1746 it would have been unusual for an owner to overtly display their political sympathies, particularly in the architecture of their country seats.
At Drummore the double aspect pediment inscriptions define the house in its setting, including views from the house. The south elevation overlooks farmland and the inscription refers to agriculture and working the land. The north elevation which looks towards the Firth of Forth has Dalrymple's motto above lines from the poem that come after a sequence in praise of the industry and commerce which has filled the river Thames with shipping.
The inscriptions at Drummore express the patron's political views. Thomson was a Whig and his The Seasons expresses a prosperous, united and peaceful vision of Britain under Hanoverian rule. Davidson states that 'The progressive aspirations which Dalrymple is expressing are unmistakable: the combination of industry and agriculture centred on his country villa as a microcosm of the progressive and peaceful Scotland of the future.'(Simpson and Brown, p26).
On General Roy's Military Survey Map, drawn around 1752, the estate is shown as a set of large rectilinear fields, to the south of the house. On this map, the fields are enclosed by shelterbelts and that immediately to the south of the house is open parkland.
In the early 18th century farming changed dramatically from the small-scale run-rig system to dividing land up into large, regular enclosures, managed by a single farmer, and thereby improving efficiency. Lord Drummore was a prominent member of The Honourable Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland, formed in Edinburgh in 1723. The society was the earliest agricultural society in the United Kingdom and East Lothian was one of the primary testing grounds for agricultural experiments, beginning agricultural improvement earlier than many other areas in Scotland.
Whilst Lord Drummore would have been fully aware of the agricultural improvements and his estate may have been an early testing ground, the integrity of this mid-18th century designed landscape has been reduced. From aerial photos the field arrangement can be discerned but only fragments of the shelterbelts and tree planting survive and the landscape today is largely undifferentiated farmland. A field in the northeast corner of the estate has been turned into a caravan park in 2000.
The later estate plans and maps indicate the improvement to the landscape, by the addition of planting, garden areas, access drives as well as ancillary buildings such as a stables and gate lodges. The stables have been altered but late 18th/early 19th century gate lodges to the east and west drive survive largely as built (LB38379 and LB47012) and are important ancillary buildings in understanding the estate following its 19th century development.
There are no known regional variations.
Close Historical Associations
Drummore House was the residence of Hew Dalrymple of Drummore (1690-1755). Dalrymple was a lawyer admitted to the bar in 1710 and became a Lord of Session in 1726 and a Lord of Justiciary in 1735. He was a member of the Edinburgh Music Society (founded in 1726), an important social group in Edinburgh in the Enlightenment. The members commissioned a portrait of Dalrymple from Allan Ramsay in 1755, which now hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
Dalrymple was the third son of the politician and judge, Sir Hew Dalrymple, Lord North Berwick (1652-1737). The Dalrymples were a prominent aristocratic family in Edinburgh during the Enlightenment.
Statutory address, category of listing changed from B to A and listed building record revised in 2017. Previously listed as 'Drummore House, including boundary wall, and well'.