Alexander Laing of Edinburgh, 1791-3; mason Roger Blane; wrights Robert Kilgour and Peter Nicoll. Entrance moved to N when porch and pedimented gablets added circa 1885: converted to hotel 1971. Large pedimented classical mansion house with piend-and-platform roof and pavilions. Droved ashlar with dressed quoins, and harl with rusticated quoins and raised stone margins. Base course, fluted frieze with paterae and cornice; deep cornice with iron brattishing to N. Pedimented porch with moulded frieze, cornice and paired Ionic columns; corniced Venetian windows; voussoirs; stone transoms and mullions.
S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 9-bay (grouped 1-1-2-1-2-1-1). 5-bay main block with advanced and pedimented centre bay, Venetian door at ground and Venetian window at 1st floor, thermal window above cornice in tympanum; flanking bays with regular fenestration, windows decreasing in size vertically; heightened 2nd floor windows breaking frieze. Penultimate bays with flat-roofed 2-storey links with balustraded parapets, windows to ground (that to right converted to door) and round-headed windows (that to left blinded) above with semicircular stone balconies on cast-iron brackets (upper floors added after 1813, see Notes). Pedimented pavilions to outer bays, Venetian window to left (blinded) and canted bay (circa 1790) to right with centre door and flanking lights, thermals in tympanums (that to right blinded).
N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: ashlar porch projecting to left of harled elevation. 5 bays to main block with slightly advanced centre bay, regular fenestration including windows breaking eaves into dormerheads at 2nd floor. Gabled elevations of link and pavilion (see above) to outer right, and flat-roofed ashlar additions to left extending to modern block beyond.
E AND W ELEVATIONS: largely obscured but with regular fenestration where visible.
4- and 12-pane glazing patterns in timber sash and case windows, except to 2nd floor S with timber casement windows; decorative astragals to all round-headed windows. Grey slates. Broad, coped ashlar stacks and ashlar-coped skews; cast-iron downpipes with decorative rainwater hopper to SE.
INTERIOR: some decorative plasterwork cornicing and panelled soffits retained. Hall with panelled ceiling, dado and carved fireplace with fluted pilasters and satyrs supporting richly carved overmantel and stepped canopy with deep cornice and frieze. Half-turn staircase with barley-twist cast-iron balusters, timber handrail and panelled dado with low relief carving. Further Renaissance style chimneypiece to dining room, dated 1886, with caryatids supporting corniced mantel shelf. Some original ceilings thought to be covered; pavilions vaulted within attic space.
Statement of Special Interest
At the time of the NSA there were "only two landed proprietors whose yearly incomes from their land within the parish exceed L.100, viz. James Townsend Oswald Esq. of Dunnikier, and John Fergus, Esq of Strathore". Dunnikier became the home of the Oswalds after the family left their town house, also called Dunnikier (now Path House), due to the town moving ever closer. In 1938 the last Oswald left Dunnikier, the MOD took over for a while, possibly until 1968 when the Parks Department moved in. Conversion to an hotel took place in 1971, and the present owner purchased the house in 1994 when it was very run down, it is now being sympathetically renovated and restored. The hall panelling is thought to originate from Nairn's boardroom, if so this must have been prior to Braehead House, possibly the old St Mary's House which was demolished to make way for The Priory.
A photograph of Dunnikier House dated 1891 is signed by Alice and Mary Oswald who lived in Croydon and must have been visiting at this time. Alice, who became Head Deaconess of Llandaff College, Cardiff, was the mother of Cicely M Barker, artist and author of "The Flower Fairies".