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- Category: A
- Date Added: 09/06/1971
- Local Authority: Scottish Borders
- Planning Authority: Scottish Borders
- Parish: Duns
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 80838 52854
- Coordinates: 380838, 652854
Robert and James Adam, 1768-69, incorporating 15th century tower house; James Nisbet, 1770-1775; later alterations, including demolition of surviving parts of tower house (to NE) during early 19th century. 3-storey, 13-bay castellated symmetrical house. U-plan with service court to rear. Rustication at ground with polished dressings; droved ashlar at 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor, polished ashlar dressings. Base course, string course between ground and 1st floor; band course to cill course at 1st floor; double string course between 1st and 2nd floors; cornice at eaves level with castellated parapet above; modillioned cornice and castellated parapet to corner towers. Hoodmoulds to windows at 1st and 2nd floors.
SW ELEVATION: 4-storey, 3-bay group to centre slightly advanced; early 19th century battlemented porte-cochere at ground to centre with segmental-arched openings to each elevation and blind arrow slits in advanced corner pilasters. 6-flush-panelled door to centre with 3-trefoiled arched fanlight above. Window flanking either side. 3 windows to centre at 1st floor above with string course to lintel level and segmental-arch above in which Coade coat of arms set (middle window broader than those flanking, as also to each floor). 3 round-arched windows at 2nd floor above, with continuous hoodmould. 3 windows at 3rd floor, also with continuous Tudor hoodmould. Narrow windows in bays flanking centre. 4-bay groups flanking centre, each with regular fenestration. Octagonal towers to outer bays, with blinded windows to each stage at canted elevations and to 4th stage; round-arched window to principal elevation of towers at 2nd and 3rd stages.
SE ELEVATION: 11-bay grouped 1-3-3-3-1. 3-bay group to centre bowed with windows to each floor. 3-bay flanking groups each with windows to each floor. Octagonal towers to outer bays, as to SW elevation.
NE ELEVATION: 9-bay, grouped 1-3-3-1-1. 3-bay group to centre set back, rear elevation of house to service court (setts at ground). Windows to each floor. Bowed addition to re-entrant angle to S. Various windows (some now blinded) to return (NW, court) elevation, including door to left with carved panel with scroll inscribed with: "GEO. HUM. DNO DE WEDDERBURN ME FCAT FIERE" (see Notes). Single storey later harled lean-to addition in re-entrant angle to N, with door to SE. Full-height square-plan tower to right with window at ground and stair window above with hoodmould. Blank further full-height square-plan tower in re-entrant angle to N. 3-bay advanced group to left of 3-bay group to centre bowed as to SE elevation. Octagonal tower to outer left and outer right, as to SW elevation. SCREEN WALL: later (possibly later 19th century); single storey, 7-bay battlemented screen wall to service court, aligned to outer towers. Bay to centre of wall advanced slightly and raised with hoodmoulded round-arched entrance to court. 3 hoodmoulded windows to left of centre and 3 hoodmoulded doorways with boarded doors to right of centre. SW elevation: lean-to single storey building with 4 flush-panelled doors to right and one door to left. Single storey lean-to addition continues to SE service, with cast-iron support to centre.
NW ELEVATION: 11-bay, grouped 1-3-3-3-1. 3-bay group to centre slightly advanced and raised. Windows to each floor of each bay of elevation. Octagonal towers to outer bays as to SW elevation.
12-pane timber sash and case windows. Slate leaded roof; slate piended roof to centre of SW elevation. Various stacks to roof and incorporated in castellations.
INTERIOR: cast-iron banister with timber handrail to cantilevered sweeping split staircase with Ionic screen at 1st floor with entablature and segmental arch above. Groin vaulted 1st floor corridor. Marble chimneypieces to principal rooms, including piece by Piranesi, others by Francis Harwood and some in Rococo style. Fine wrought-iron net/trellis banister to stair from 1st to 2nd floors. Fine classical plasterwork (executed by local craftsmen).
Statement of Special Interest
Scale drawings of the masonry survive, signed and dated by Nisbet, March 6th 1770, a month after the contract was signed with William House the mason. The Adam drawings must therefore pre-date this date. The SW (principal) and SE elevations are the main concentration of Adam?s work. The SW elevation has been praised for its sense of movement (a characteristic much advocated by the Adam family), and has been seen as the turning point in the development of the Adam castle style. However, it is unusual in this specific part of the Adam oeuvre, in that the Palladian use of rustication at ground has been continued. The symmetry and the block-format of the house give it a strongly classical air, and it is seen to be the first true synthesis of the classical and the more romantic castle aesthetic. However the hypothetical pre-1770 dating of the Adam involvement in the scheme would make the design of even more seminal importance than often recognised. A Rowan, during research for his PhD thesis, came across a now-lost sketch of the SW elevation for Wedderburn in which the towers were round-plan rather octagonal. Professor Rowan has attributed the drawing to James Nisbet of Kelso, who acted initially as the Clerk of Works and subsequently as architect of further alterations to the building. Such an attribution would bring into question the depth of involvement of the Adam family. The position of the original castle is still to some degree uncertain, as coursed and mortared walls have been discovered under the 2-storey hall, along with rubble from the old tower house. Thus also bringing into question the accuracy of the historical ground plan of the house found in the COUNTRY LIFE article. The wing to the NE which was incorporated into Adam?s and Nisbet?s scheme became structurally unsafe at the beginning of the 19th century and was therefore demolished, so allowing the service court to be created. The panel found above the door to the SE court elevation is carved with a shield charged with a lion rampant, surmounted by a helmet with a stag?s head for a crest, although this is no longer very clear. It was removed from the tower house before demolition and placed upon the present structure. The history behind the original building project from the later 18th century is covered in some detail by A Rowan?s article. The alteration to the entrance hall from a simple single storey arrangement to the present grandiose sweeping stair would appear to date from early 19th century. Rowan has suggested that the porte-cochere and this work may well have been carried out by
J Gillespie Graham, who designed the remodelling of Duns Castle (see separate listing). The house remodelling of Wedderburn was carried out for Patrick Home who also commissioned Paxton. There are some similarities internally between these houses. In 1896 the house was leased out to a family who retained the accounts of any alterations. Very little has been altered since then, despite the house being used as a naval hospital during the 2nd World War. The building was known up until the end of the 19th century as Wedderburn House (relating it back to its origins as a tower house), when it was changed to being referred to as a castle.
MHB Sanderson ROBERT ADAM AND SCOTLAND- PORTRAIT OF AN ARCHITECT, (1992). J&K Rykwert THE BROTHERS ADAM- THE MEN AND THE STYLE, (1985)
p 170. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions of Scotland "1ST REPORT AND INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF BERWICK, (1909). CA Strang BORDERS AND BERWICKSHIRE- AN ILLUSTRATED ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE TO THE SCOTTISH BORDERS AND TWEED VALLEY, (1994), p 43. A Rowan "Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, the property of Miss Georgina Home Robertson", COUNTRY LIFE, (August 9 1974). Information from current owner and from architect in charge of structural upkeep of house. A Rowan, "The Adam Castle Style", JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF ARTS (September 1974, vol CXXII).
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