Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Argyll And Bute
Planning Authority
Argyll And Bute
NS 10563 65012
210563, 665012


Alexander Thomson, circa 1855. Asymmetrical, 2-storey, 3-bay Greek-detailed L-plan villa with 3-storey, squat Italianate tower at centre; single storey, flat-roofed entrance set in re-entrant angle to right; single storey service block at rear. Squared and snecked rubble sandstone; yellow sandstone ashlar dressings. Rubble plinth to front; shallow-pitched roofs; overhanging timber eaves (exposed rafter ends at tower); decorative bargeboards; consoled cast-iron brackets. Tooled sandstone quoins; tooled long and short surrounds to droved openings; flush cills; pilaster mullions at ground comprising moulded bases, anthemion detail beneath moulded capitals; plain capitals at 1st floor. Harl-pointed random rubble single storey, U-plan former service block adjoined at rear.

NE (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: steps to single storey entrance porch off-set to right of centre; anthemion-detailed frieze; curvilinear engraving set in droved surround 3-leaf timber panelled door; plate-glass fanlight. Central tower comprising single window at 1st floor; tripartite window aligned above. Projecting 3-light glazing row (drawing room) at ground in bay to outer left; decorative circular frieze; mannered parapet; anthemion corner detailing; cast-iron balustrade to 1st floor balcony; 5-light glazing row centred in finialed apex above. Single storey service block wings recessed to outer left and right.

SW (REAR) ELEVATION: single window at 1st floor off-set to left of centre main block. Projecting single storey former service wings to front comprising tripartite window centred beneath apex in gabled bay to outer left; boarded timber entrance in linking central wall (open courtyard behind); bipartite window centred beneath apex in gabled bay to outer right.

Predominantly replacement aluminium glazing. Graded grey slate piends and pitches; part corrugated-iron roof to rear service wing; replacement rainwater goods; wallhead stack to SE; circular flues; coped wallhead and apex stacks to SW; decorative cans.

INTERIOR: part-glazed vestibule door. Predominantly original timber panelled doors (similar stylised detailing as vestibule entry); decorative timber surrounds; timber skirting boards. Plaster ceiling-work (sun ray ceiling rose for ground floor day-room/lounge, moon and stars for 1st floor evening-room/drawing room - similar at Holmwood); embossed floral motifs; stylised egg-and-dart cornices; anthemion detailing. Curvilinear cast-iron uprights to stair; timber handrail; stair window set in slightly bowed wall (flat from exterior). Drawing room fireplace from demolished Alexander Thomson Glasgow office block.

BOUNDARY WALL, GATEPIERS AND GATES: coped harl-pointed random rubble wall to Ardencraig Road; square-plan piers flanking entrance; tooled quoins; stylised key-pattern frieze; pyramidal caps; cast-iron geometric-patterned gates.

Statement of Special Interest

An outstanding 'Greek' Thomson house with many original features. Note the stylised timber doors and decorative plaster work - both very similar to his work at Holmwood and Langside. Built for a John Wilson, bookseller and stationer in Rothesay, who feued the site from the Town Council in 1856. Originally known as Tor Castle, then between 1892 and 1932 as Clifton, after which date it was called Tor House. Relatively intact despite replacement glazing. A good example of Thomson?s work, with obvious affinity with his later double villa at Langside, Glasgow (1856-7) and his larger single design for Holmwood (1857). Here too, the buildings are characterised by pilaster-mullioned windows, shallow-pitched eaves, decorative frieze-detailing, timber bargeboards, tripartite finials and circular flues. Combining the Greek with the Egyptian and Italianate, Thomson?s eclecticism is paramount throughout. Designing everything from the cast-iron eave-brackets and anthemion friezes to the Greek interior and key-patterned gatepiers, he considered "...architecture to be total design, inside and out" (p108 McKinstry). Here providing a ?socially insecure? merchant with ready-made culture, Thomson left no space for his client to have a creative role in his own habitation. His primary concern was for a totality of form, a whole made up of precise geometries, a compact plan and heavy massing incapable of further extension.

Rothesay is one of Scotland's premier seaside resorts, developed primarily during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and incorporates an earlier medieval settlement. The town retains a wide range of buildings characteristic of its development as a high status 19th century holiday resort, including a range of fine villas, a Victorian pier and promenade.

The history and development of Rothesay is defined by two major phases. The development of the medieval town, centred on Rothesay Castle, and the later 19th and early 20th century development of the town as a seaside resort. Buildings from this later development, reflect the wealth of the town during its heyday as a tourist destination, and include a range of domestic and commercial architecture of a scale sometimes found in larger burghs. Both the 19th and early 20th century growth of the town, with a particular flourish during the inter-war period, included areas of reclaimed foreshore, particularly along the coast to the east of the town and around the pier and pleasure gardens.

(List description revised as part of Rothesay listing review 2010-11).



Appears on Ordnance Survey maps, 1863 and 1896; R McFadzean THE LIFE AND WORK OF ALEXANDER THOMSON (1979) p48-50; B Edwards SCOTTISH SEASIDE TOWNS (1986) p122; F Walker & F Sinclair NORTH CLYDE ESTUARY: AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE (1992) p154; I Gow THE SCOTTISH INTERIOR (1992) p94-97; G Stamp & S McKinstry (ed) 'GREEK' THOMSON (1994) p108, p154, plate IV.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 20/05/2019 19:34