James Gillespie Graham, 1845-51; drawing room extended, billiard room added and family wing extended by David Bryce, 1860-61; family wing raised, smoking room added, and dining room, billiard room, kitchen wing and stable yard extended by James Maitland Wardrop, 1864-7; extensive redecoration by Bonnar & Carfrae, 1873-5. Asymmetrical, 2-, 3- and 4-storey with attic, 15-bay (at ground), irregular-plan Scots Baronial house comprising 3-storey entrance block at centre; 4-storey with attic, near square-plan 'great tower' recessed to right; 2-storey, L-plan range to outer right; 2-storey, near rectangular-plan range recessed to left of centre; single storey former coach house projecting to left; 2-storey with basement, rectangular-plan range adjoined to outer left with screen walls obscuring lower service wings to front. Squared and snecked tooled red sandstone; sandstone ashlar dressings. Base course; corbelled eaves (rope-moulded corbelling to turrets); crenellated parapets; crowstepped gables. Stugged quoins; stugged long and short surrounds to chamfered and roll-moulded openings; stop-chamfered sandstone mullions; moulded cills.
NW (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: symmetrical entrance tower with segmental-arched panel recessed at ground; 2-leaf boarded timber door centred within (iron bolts and decorative hinges); basket-arched surround incorporating coat-of-arms; narrow side-lights; stop-chamfered, single storey pilasters to outer left and right; projecting window aligned at 1st floor; 2 segmental-arched windows at 2nd floor with continuous hoodmould breaking eaves; coat-of-arms centred in crowstepped gable; surmounting stack. Full-height projection recessed to right with single windows at both floors. 2-storey block in re-entrant angle recessed to right with single windows at both floors. Irregularly fenestrated 4-storey with attic 'great tower' recessed to right with single window centred in crowstepped cap-house; conical-capped corner turrets. 2-storey, L-plan range to right with gabled projection to outer right comprising single windows at ground and 1st floors off-set to left and right of centre respectively; attic light in crowstepped gable; surmounting stack; conical-capped corner turrets. 2-storey, 2-bay range recessed to left of entrance with 3-light glazing row in single storey projection at ground (continuous arched hoodmoulds); single windows in both bays recessed at 1st floor. Regularly fenestrated 2-storey, 3-bay (4-bay at 1st floor) range to left with gabled bay projecting to outer left. Former coach house projecting to left with segmental-arched opening centred at ground; carved panel above; mounting steps in place to right. 5-bay block adjoined to outer left with gabled windows breaking eaves at 1st floor (carved motifs in finialled gableheads); square-plan bell tower to NW corner with pyramidal-capped sandstone belfry; bell in place. Lower service blocks adjoined to front obscured by courtyard wall.
SE (REAR) ELEVATION: 4-storey with attic, 2-bay 'great tower' off-set to left of centre with single windows in both bays at ground, 1st and 2nd floors; projecting window centred at 3rd floor; small attic lights in crowstepped cap-house; surmounting stack; conical-capped turret to SW corner; open turret to NE. Irregularly fenestrated 2-storey, 2-bay range recessed to left with boarded timber door at ground to outer right (iron blots and decorative hinges), basket-arched surround, carved panel above dated '1848'. Gabled projection to outer left with tripartite window centred at ground; single windows in both bays at 1st floor; attic light centred in crowstepped gable; surmounting stack; conical-capped corner turrets. 2-storey block projecting to right of tower with tripartite window centred at ground; single windows in flanking corners; single windows in both bays at 1st floor; corbelled parapet with open corner turrets. 2-storey, originally 2-bay range recessed to right with segmental-arched window at ground in bay to left; later projection obscuring bay to right; single windows in both bays at 1st floor; coat-of-arms centred in crowstepped gable; surmounting stack. Further 2-storey, originally 2-bay range to right with 4-light glazing row in single storey projection at ground; single windows in both bays recessed at 1st floor; conical-capped corner turret to outer right. Lower, 2-storey wing recessed to right with single window centred at 1st floor; single window at ground in single storey projection to front; segmental-arched basement opening below (blocked). 2-storey, 2-bay gabled wing recessed to right with arched windows in both bays at ground; single windows aligned at 1st floor; stack surmounting crowstepped gable; open corner turrets. Single storey with basement and attic, irregular-plan range to right with tripartite window centred in gabled wing projecting to outer right; small attic light centred in crowstepped gable; surmounting stack. Irregularly fenestrated service wing recessed to right with taller block set behind (gabled dormers breaking eaves); single storey range adjoined to outer right.
4-, 8-, 12- pane glazing in timber sash and case windows throughout. Grey slate roofs; crowstepped skews. Predominantly corniced sandstone apex stacks (some ridge stacks); predominantly octagonal cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods; regularly spaced sandstone water-spouts.
INTERIOR: not seen 1998. Bonnar & Carfrae's 1875 scheme in place: plaster strapwork ceilings in dining room, drawing room and library; painted ceiling to entrance hall. Timber dado panelling; decorative cornices; timber panelled doors. Various fireplaces. Timber panelled smoking room with painted comb, James Maitland Wardrop, 1865.
SERVICE COURTYARD: various service blocks to NE including single storey, L-plan range to N with gabled block to W; single storey, rectangular-plan office to SE. Ball-finialled, square-plan gatepiers flanking inner courtyard to S. COURTYARD WALLS: tall, squared and snecked, tooled red sandstone walls enclosing service courtyard with harl-pointed rubble to inner elevations; plain coping to NE; crenellated parapets to remainder; large, segmental-arched opening to NE.
RAMPART WALLS: moulded coping to sandstone walls enclosing terraced garden to S (crenellated in part); stone stairs linking terraces. Circular-plan corner turrets with crenellated parapets; iron gates. Stone stair linking gardens to front and rear comprising square-plan, coursed sandstone, pyramidal-capped newels, solid balustrades, stone treads, hooped iron gates.
Statement of Special Interest
B Group comprises 'Ayton Castle', 'Ayton Castle, Dovecot', 'Ayton Castle, North Lodge', 'Ayton Castle, South Lodge', 'Ayton Castle, Stable Courtyard' and 'Ayton Castle, Walled Garden' - see separate list entries. Commissioned by William Mitchell Innes, Governor of the Bank of Scotland, to replace an earlier house, itself destroyed by fire in 1834. Clearly inspired by his work at Brodick Castle in 1844 and undoubtedly influenced by the publication of R W Billings' BARONIAL AND ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES OF SCOTLAND in 1845, Ayton Castle remains Gillespie Graham's largest and most thoroughly Baronial house - noted in the OS Name Book as being "...very irregular and not in accordance with any defined order of architecture." Prominently set on a hillside above the Eye Water, both its detailing and dramatic massing remain much as they did when first complete. With subsequent work by Bryce and Maitland Wardrop (himself architect of the nearby Ayton Parish Church - see separate list entry), and interior schemes by Scotland's then leading houses decorators - Bonnar & Carfrae, not only is this the most significant building in the parish, but also, one of the most significant within the country as a whole.