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- Date Added
- Local Authority
- Argyll And Bute
- Planning Authority
- Argyll And Bute
- NS 10387 62820
- 210387, 662820
Dated 1861. Near-symmetrical 2-storey with basement, 4-bay classically-detailed house grouped 1-1-2 with full-height 5-light bow in penultimate bay to outer right; single bay recessed to outer left; corrugated iron lean-to addition beyond; side entrance (porte-cochere). Yellow sandstone ashlar. Raised band course at principal floor; banded basement rustication; corniced cill courses; corbelled, corniced eaves; regularly disposed anthemion parapet detailing. Raised, ashlar quoins; pilastered, corniced windows at ground; shouldered-arched surrounds at 1st floor; pilastered mullions at both floors in bowed bay.
E (GARDEN) MAIN ELEVATION: full-height bow in penultimate bay to outer right; boarded openings at basement; decorative cast-iron, bowed balcony dividing ground and 1st floors (consoled brackets); armorial panels set in frieze beneath corbelled cornice (panel dated "1861" outer right). Bipartite windows at ground and 1st floors in bay to outer right; single windows at all floors in bays to left of centre; lean-to addition recessed to outer left.
N (ENTRANCE) SIDE ELEVATION: 3-bay with single storey, 2-bay wing slightly recessed to outer right. Steps to 2-leaf timber panelled door at ground in bay to outer right of main block; plate-glass fanlight; pilastered, round-arched surround; projecting balustraded porte-cochere comprising square-plan columns, consoled cornice, decorative frieze detailing, stencilled, corniced parapet; flanking tripartite side-lights; bipartite window aligned at 1st floor. Single windows at both floors in bays at centre and outer left; single storey wing to outer right comprising single window to right of entrance, bipartite window in slightly projecting bay to outer right.
Predominantly 2-pane timber sash and case windows. Graded grey slate roof; some decorative cast-iron rainwater goods. Corniced wallhead stacks (some triple banded, panelled, square-plan flues); octagonal cans.
INTERIOR: relatively intact. Large ground floor reception rooms with Adamesque detailing. Timber panelled doors; architraved, corniced door-surrounds; boarded timber floors; timber skirting boards. Intricate plaster cornices; ceiling roses. Square- and circular-plan columns dividing rooms; some fireplaces; timber panelled shutters in place; large, decorative mirrors. Columnar hall with decorative cast-iron balustraded main stair (inserted lift shaft in place 1996). Upper floors not seen.
BOUNDARY WALLS AND GATEPIERS: coped, curved stugged sandstone walls flanking entrance; square-plan piers; pyramidal caps; gates missing.
Statement of Special Interest
Commissioned by Mr Thomas Croil, a wealthy West India Merchant from Glasgow, Balmory House was considered a "...typical example of the modern Italian style of villa architecture..." (THE CASTLES AND MANSIONS OF RENFREWSHIRE AND BUTESHIRE). According to Sasine records dated 1861, the feu was obtained from the Trustees of Robert Thom of Ascog, "...late cotton spinner, Rothesay", also renowned for designing a means of supplying water to the inhabitants of Greenock (see separate list entry for Meikle Ascog). The plot of land, measuring 6 acres, 3 roods and 11 poles (as measured by Andrew McDonald, a Glasgow land surveyor), was purchased for ?1140 sterling and had a feu duty of ?5 per annum. No mention is made of an architect for the house subsequently commissioned by Croil, although the records do note that he was "...bound and obliged to erect houses or other buildings of stone and lime and covered with slate on the piece of ground before disposed within 3 years from the term of entry." No businesses of any sort - leather tanning, brewing, soap or candle making, boiling oil or making bricks or tiles, were permitted on the site. Furthermore, although Croil was able to dig for freestone, limestone and whinstone "...for erecting houses, offices, walls or other buildings upon said ground", he was prohibited from selling these materials for profit. Following the devastating fire at Mount Stuart in 1877, the Marquess of Bute and his family are said to have resided at Balmory until their new house was complete. Subsequently the residence of a Mr Robert Laidlaw, the house was taken over by the Salvation Army in 1927 and renamed the Laidlaw Memorial Home. It remained in their hands until 1993 (approximately), when it once again returned to private ownership. Despite the insertion of a lift shaft and various additions, the house remains essentially intact - note the pilastered windows, shouldered-arched openings, the decorative use of cast-iron, impressive porte-cochere and banded flues. The Adamesque interior is particularly noteworthy, with much of the original still in place - intricate cornices, ceiling roses, fireplaces, timber panelled doors and shutters, various columns and decorative mirrors. With its gatelodge (see separate list entry), boundary walls and gatepiers, the estate remains complete.
SRO Sasine Records, Bute, November 1st 1861, GR/3175/126; appears on Ordnance Survey map 1863; A H Millar THE CASTLES AND MANSIONS OF RENFREWSHIRE AND BUTESHIRE (1889); J MacCallum "WISH YOU WERE HERE": A PICTURE POSTCARD VIEW OF EDWARDIAN BUTE p24.
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Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.
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Printed: 17/02/2019 13:31