Dated 1602 (possibly with earlier fabric) tower house with later additions and alterations including west wing by Alexander Mylne, dated 1682 and substantial mid to later 19th century work. L-plan with small single storey L-shaped courtyard. Coursed rubble with ashlar dressings. Datestones, turrets with gunloops, crowstepped gables, battlements, gableheaded and oriel windows, arrow slits, tower.
S (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: to left, 2-storey and basement 6-bay Mylne wing with 1682 datestone. Corbelled parapet with central gable flanked by gabledheads. To right, very advanced tower house gable with later, principally Victorian alterations, 3-storey with pair of corbelled angle turrets at top floor. Central tripartite oriel window at 2nd floor with strapwork and anchor detailing above. In re-entrant angle, 2-storey castellated porch with Tudor archway reached by flight of steps with ball finialled piers. Above, coat of arms and 1863 datestone.
Variety of glazing types including plate glass, predominantly timber sash and case windows, some with horns. Grey slates, fishscale pattern to conical turrets. Large gable stacks.
INTERIOR: basement with vaulted ceilings, including wine cellar. In Mylne wing, early fireplace with deep lintel resting on corbelled piers. Turnpike staircase to tower. At 1st floor, study with fine late 17th century plaster ceiling. Deeply undercut fruit and flower wreath at centre with foliate designs in spandrels and swagged cove above cornice. Good marble chimneypiece with classical putti panel to drawing room with timber china cabinet at E end. Many original cast-iron fireplaces. In W wing, ground floor timber 2-leaf doors with semicircular stained glass panel dated 1890 above with coat of arms and heraldic motif. To E, former dining room (?) with timber panelled dado and timber chimneypiece with truncated columns of early 20th century, possibly by Matthew Steele.
BOUNDARY WALLS: to W, very high rubble wall.
Statement of Special Interest
An important early house with later alterations and additions set on a site with ancient origins and with a particularly exceptional plaster ceiling.
The original tower house was constructed by John Hamilton of Lettrick in 1602, although there is evidence that the site was already inhabited and there may have been earlier fabric incorporated into this building. The house is contained within the site of a Roman fort which formed part of the Antonine Wall. It is possible that the site was continuously occupied from this time.
In the late 17th century the house was sold to the celebrated Mylne family of master masons and Alexander Mylne was responsible for building the W wing and other work. The estate changed ownership many times in the 18th century and landscaping work was carried out circa 1750. A large amount of soil was added around the house creating a basement where the ground floor had been.
Admiral Sir George Johnston Hope bought the house in 1814 and the property passed to his son, Admiral Sir James Hope in 1829. Sir James was responsible for many changes to the house, including the castellated porch. He also created the nearby model village of Muirhouses (see separate listings) to house the estate workers. Again, from the late 19th century the estate changed hands several times until being purchased by the South of Scotland Electricity Board in the 1960/70s who contemplated demolishing the buildings and constructing a power station. This did not take place and the house fell into disrepair during this time until it was bought and restored as a family home in the late 20th century.
Part of a B-group with The Steading, Walled Garden and Gardener's House, Ice House and West Lodge.
Category changed from B to A, 23 March 2006.