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- Category: A
- Date Added: 20/07/1971
- Supplementary Information Updated: 20/02/1998
- Local Authority: Argyll And Bute
- Planning Authority: Argyll And Bute
- Parish: North Bute
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NS 6169 68062
- Coordinates: 206169, 668062
Robert Weir Schultz, 1897-1900; rebuilding of Z-plan keep circa 1700. Asymmetrical Baronial tower comprising 4-stage, rectangular-plan gabled tower, corbelled stair turret, 5-stage, circular-plan tower corbelled to square at 5th stage. Predominantly harl-pointed random rubble sandstone; red sandstone ashlar dressings; harled elevation to S. Thin red brick line marking height of original ruin; polished sandstone corbelling; moulded lintel course; moulded eaves; crowstepped gables. Red rubble sandstone quoins; long and short surrounds to moulded rybats; flush cills.
N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: boarded timber, iron-studded door off-set to right of centre; doorpiece comprising architraved surround, stylised consoles flanking pediment, chevron engraving to pyramidal finials. Single window at 3rd stage in bay to outer left. Irregularly-disposed single windows in tower to outer right; trefoil-headed single window centred beneath crowstepped apex; single window centred beneath NE face.
S (REAR) ELEVATION: 2-leaf, boarded timber, iron-studded door centred at ground; single window aligned at 1st floor; single window at 2nd floor off-set to left of centre. Advanced, corbelled window centred beneath apex at 3rd floor; single openings in corbelled turret to outer right.
W (SIDE) ELEVATION: small single windows at ground flanking centre; single windows at all floors in bay to outer right (pedimented 3rd floor window breaking eaves). Narrow single openings in corbelled turret to left; irregularly-disposed windows in full-height tower to outer left.
E (SIDE) ELEVATION: 2-bay. Single windows in both bays at all floors (round-arched pedimented 3rd floor windows breaking eaves). Single window beneath eaves in corbelled turret to outer left.
Predominantly 12-pane timber sash and case windows; some 2- and 4-pane casements to tower and turrets. Graded grey slate roof; raised stone skews; decorative lead rainwater goods (dated 1900). Corniced apex stacks; circular terracotta cans.
INTERIOR: rubble vaulted ground floor kitchen and dining area. Spiral stair to upper floors comprising lightly droved, red ashlar octagonal central column; lightly droved red ashlar to underside of stairs. Ashlar fireplace in 1st floor drawing room; timber picture rail; heavy corbels beneath boarded ceiling. 2nd floor bedrooms comprising coved ceilings; sandstone fireplaces; floral paintwork to ?Invictas Washdown Closet? toilet. Boarded timber barrel-vaulted ceiling to main bedroom; boarded timber walls; columnar, ashlar fireplace with tiled reveals; boarded timber washroom set in corner alcove. Vaulted ceiling to attic bedroom; cupboard door dated "Anno Doni 1900".
BOUNDARY FENCE: wrought-iron estate fence stamped "A & J Main & Co Ltd Glasgow, London & Dublin" enclosing site.
Statement of Special Interest
At one time the seat of the Spenses of Wester Kames, who can be traced back to the middle of the 15th century. When surveyed by Robert Weir Schultz in 1895, all that remained of the structure was its vaulted ground floor - the walls scarcely more than 12ft high. In 1897, the 3rd Marquess of Bute commissioned the architect to build upon the existing foundations and make the tower complete once more. Drawings in an 'appropriate style' (Stamp) were prepared that year, and building began in vigour in 1898. With its irregularly spaced windows, turrets, crowstepped gables, moulded rybats, corbels, vaulted interiors and rugged stonework, the result is a convincing Baronial tower, with a thin line of red bricks marking the division between the 17th and 19th centuries. Schultz's attention to materials and detail is paramount throughout. It should be noted that both the Marquess and his architect shared the belief that ancient edifices were too often spoiled as a consequence of 'restoration'. Like William Morris' S.P.A.B, famous for its opposition to the restoration and subsequent destruction of many English parish churches and cathedrals, both believed old buildings should not be tampered with. The justification for their rebuilding Wester Kames therefore, may seem rather tenuous, especially with Schultz being a member of the Art Workers' Guild. However, just as with his work at St Blane's Chapel a few years beforehand (see separate list entry, Kingarth Parish), the architect's respect for that which he was restoring was fundamental. Unlike Scott's 'restorations' of English churches (none of which could be likened to this 12ft high ruin), the existing structure was left much as found, neither 'scraped' nor falsified. Moreover, that which was added to it was done so sympathetically - creating an harmonious whole which nevertheless, made no attempt to hide the division between old and new. Wester Kames could therefore, be described as an attempt at 'honest restoration'.
Ruin appears on Ordnance Survey map, 1863; A H Millar THE CASTLES AND MANSIONS OF RENFREWSHIRE AND BUTESHIRE (1889) - included in article on Kames Castle; I Munro THE ISLAND OF BUTE (1973) p53; MacGibbon & Ross THE CASTELLATED AND DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE OF SCOTLAND (reprinted 1971) VolIII p192; G Stamp ROBERT WEIR SCHULTZ ARCHITECT AND HIS WORK FOR THE MARQUESSES OF BUTE (1981) p43-45; F Walker & F Sinclair NORTH CLYDE ESTUARY: AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1992) p163; "WISH YOU WERE HERE" SVBWG handbook, 1995 p13; NMRS records BU/5, BU/7, BU/70, BU/35/2, BU/492.
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