Sir William Kininmonth, 1962, incorporating 1679 doorpiece. 2-storey and basement, 7-bay, rectangular-plan neo-Georgian country house built to evoke 1679 Classical house destroyed by fire 1957, prominently-sited in designed landscape at foot of Moncreiffe Hill. Harled with contrasting raised ashlar margins, quoin strips, deep base course and flat-coped blocking course; recessed aprons to ground floor windows. Doorpiece of fine channelled ashlar, basket-arched with fluted pilasters, frieze dated 1679, heavy broken apex pediment with relief-carved arms of Thomas Moncreiffe and Bethia Hamilton (see Notes) and swagged ball finial. Conical-roofed bowed stair tower at rear.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: principal S elevation incorporates slightly recessed, tall, pavilion-roofed centre bay with 2-leaf panelled timber door in ashlar doorpiece with single window and relief carved panel above. Regular fenestration to flanking bays (ground floor windows taller), shallow plain recessed panels over window bays at wallhead. Modern timber conservatory adjoining screen wall at outer left. Rear (N) elevation with glazed door below large stair window in bowed centre bay. Harled rubble walls and ancillary buildings at E.
Multi-pane glazing patterns in timber sash and case windows and French doors. Piended slate roofs with 2 solar panels added circa 1980 to S. Coped harled stacks.
INTERIOR: well-detailed interior incorporates simple plasterwork cornices and panels, architraved doorways with 6-panelled timber doors and brass door furniture, fireplaces throughout. Screen door leads to fine stairhall with side doors in arched recesses, fireplace and imposing cantilevered staircase with scrolled ironwork balustrade and timber handrail following curve of stair tower. Drawing room to E with arched niches flanking centre fireplace, and vaulted-effect suspended ceiling. Dining room to W appearing as oval-plan with concave-curved inner wall and curved suspended ceilings. Smaller room to NE with vaulted ceiling (see Notes).
WALLS, ANCILLARY BUILDINGS AND GATEPIERS: harled rubble walls, ancillary buildings and large flat-coped square-section ashlar gatepiers with timber gates to NW.
Statement of Special Interest
B Group with Stables, Walled Garden and Ha-Ha, Dairy, Dovecote, Filter Bed and Water Tank, Gamekeeper's Cottage, Garden Cottage, West Lodge and Gate, and East Gate.
The finely sited and dignified Moncreiffe House makes a substantial contribution to the important group of buildings at Moncreiffe Estate. The house is a significant example of post-war country house architecture, continuing the tradition of the neo-Georgian style. It was built at a time when new country houses were a rare occurrence and architectural merit tended to be measured in the light of 'convenience and comfort' (Robinson). Sir William Kininmonth's design echoes the detail of the earlier house without replicating it, and visually complements the imposing landscape setting. It cost around £25,000 to build and was designed with the intention of the top floor being developed for future generations of the Moncreiffe family. The gatepiers, some office walls and ancillaries to the NW of the new house belong to an earlier period, probably 1729-30, and as such may be the only remnant of earlier Moncreiffe House (see below).
Moncreiffe Estate is situated to the south of Perth overlooking the River Earn with Moncreiffe Hill behind. The land was confirmed to Sir Robert de Meynirs (or Mowbray), Chamberlain of Scotland, in 1248 but the family, which took its name from Moncreiffe Hill, has family records from the 12th century. They built their home near a stone circle which probably dates from the 3rd or 2nd millennium, and the Borestone, a Pictish cross slab from the 8th or 9th century. Both of these monuments have been moved but remain in the policies. An early tower house was replaced in 1679 by a neo-Classical mansion. The architect of this building was thought to have been Sir William Bruce but this is 'far from certain and the pediment of the surviving doorpiece has characteristics associated with the work of James Smith and his father-in-law Robert Mylne' (John Gifford). The New Statistical Account noted that it 'resembles structures of the period', and it is said to have had a staircase of bog oak taken from the nearby River Earn. This 17th century house was a classical box of 2-storeys and attic, 7 bays wide with a piend-and-platform roof. The only exterior decoration was the fine doorcase detailed above, which was incorporated in Kininmonth's building, but the house was well-proportioned and had a glazed rooftop cupola which provided a good amount of interior light. The shallow attic floor, with small windows set close to the eaves, appears to be echoed in the new building by a stepped eaves line which has also been identified as Gothic crenellations.
Fire destroyed Moncreiffe House in 1957. In 1997, the estate passed to the Honourable Peregrine Moncreiffe of Easter Moncreiffe when he became Clan Chief.
During WWII the estate was requisitioned for use by the Highland Division and as the Polish Army headquarters. Foundations of Nissan huts and accommodation blocks have been uncovered beside the main drive.
The very fine carved Classical doorpiece which was saved from the earlier Moncreiffe House reads Sir Thomas Moncrieffe (sic) and Dam Bithiah Hamilton'.
The vaulted ceiling to the small north east room may be part of the earlier 1679 house.
The highly regarded Scottish architect Sir William Kininmonth worked from Edinburgh with Sir Basil Spence from 1931. In 1934 they became partners in Rowand Anderson & Paul & Partners. Kininmonth continued the Rowan Anderson practice after WWII and was president of the RSA from 1969 until 1972.
The 1679 doorpiece at Moncreiffe House was formerly listed at category B, HB Number 4535 listed 5-Oct-1971. Listing revised to include the house in 2009.