Earlier 19th century; mid 19th century alterations; William Ferguson additions and alterations circa 1886, earlier 20th century alterations. Extensive 8-bay, largely 2-storey, asymmetrically-planned villa with eclectic Italianate detailing; open entrance loggia to E and 3-storey tower section offset to W. Fine interior detailing to principal rooms. Picturesquely-sited between former railway embankment and very deep river ravine. Predominantly stugged coursed ashlar with raised margined surrounds; bull-faced ashlar to part W elevation. Advanced base course, moulded string courses and projecting cills.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: original 3-bay cottage to centre of S elevation with gabled former ancillary accommodation behind. Later
additions to W and N incorporating 3-storey gabled tower section with bipartite windows and small square tower with shallow domed roof and weather vane. Gabled wing to SW corner with carved stone plaque and floral swags to apex; projecting gabled bay and later canted bay to W elevation. Small chapel attached at angle to N with pilastered and pedimented niche and crucifix to gable, entrance porch and decorative parapet wallhead. 3-storey rendered brick circular tower to central section of N elevation with corbelled brick detail and domed copper roof. Earlier 20th century adaptations to E entrance detailing to include open loggia and porch.
Timber sash and case windows, predominantly multi-pane over plain sashes. Predominantly timber-bracketed overhanging eaves; stone skews to N gables. Slate roofs. Cast-iron rainwater goods with decorative hoppers (some dated 1868).
INTERIOR: some very finely decorated rooms linked by long central hall. Earlier 20th century timber-panelled entrance hall with fine mosaic floor; reception room with fine stained glass and ornate marble chimneypiece (see notes). Central entrance hall with squared stone pilasters and fine ornately plastered, recessed, vaulted ceiling with semi circular stained glass end panels. Timber-panelled dog-leg stair with turned balusters leading to central upper floor. Rectangular Jacobethan style library with timber panelling and hammer-beam roof with clerestory dated 1842 and 1876. Large formal dining room with curved ceiling, highly decorative cornice, timber chimneypiece with pilastered overmantel and arched hoodmoulds to doors. Curved timber stair with cast-iron banisters to tower.
COACH HOUSE: 2-storey, 4-bay, gabled former coach house with small square 1st floor windows under eaves. Linked to former chapel wall by pair of squared ashlar pillars with large ball finials. Coursed ashlar rubble. Eaves course; projecting cills. Timber multi-pane windows, boarded doors. Later alterations to openings including large garage door openings to S gable. Stone skews, squared skewputts and ball finials to gable apexes. Tall wallhead stack. Cobbled courtyard area to west.
GARDEN TERRACES AND BALUSTRADES: central steps with balustrades and ball finials to S lawn area and ashlar stone retaining walls to W side with carved stone balustrade. Tall buttressed railway embankment walls to East of house.
SOUTH ENTRANCE GATEPIERS AND WALLS: pair of squared stone gatepiers and smaller side piers with scroll caps between curved quadrant walls and cylindrical corniced piers. Long curved walls extending to sides with spaced piers and Aberdeen bond stonework.
OTHER ANCILLARY STRUCTURES: remains of rectangular ancillary building to N of coach house and complete rectangular rendered brick building with arched details beyond. Small piended-roof brick building and small stone outbuilding with in-filled gable to far N area of site. Large garden ground walks to S of house shown on first edition OS map.
Statement of Special Interest
Auchenheath House is a large, complex villa built in several stages over the later 19th and early 20th centuries, with some good Italianate exterior detailing and some very fine decorative elements to the interior. The building has undergone design alterations which have added to its historical interest as a whole.
Auchenheath was largely built for James Ferguson Esquire, tenant of the local coalfields, who occupied the house until at least 1875. The building's history is complicated; it is thought that the earliest section was the central three bay cottage and gabled 2 bay section to right of circa 1842 which appear on the 1st edition OS map. A design perspective by Allan & Ferguson calls the building Auchenheath Cottage and shows it greatly extended to the West and rear in much the same form as built, although some of the detailing is different. The rainwater hoppers on the middle section are dated 1868. The Library to the rear is dated 1842 and 1876 suggesting that this part of the house was extended in 1876 although this is unlikely to have been carried out by Ferguson. The former chapel to the rear dates to the later 19th century expansions but possibly incorporates stone detailing from an earlier building.
The large ornate marble fireplace, with it's fender and fire dogs, are believed to have come from Hamilton Palace, which was demolished in 1919 after its contents (including the fixtures and fittings) had been sold by auction. A photograph of the fireplace (or one remarkably similar) in its original position in the first of the New State Rooms at Hamilton is to be found on p34 of Scotland's Lost Country Houses by Ian Gow. The fireplace dates from about 1842 when these rooms were fitted up.
William Ferguson (1853-1912) was a Rutherglen based architect who studied at Glasgow School of Art and was articled to Campbell, Douglas and Sellars for 8 years and Rowand Anderson for 3 years.
The building was purchased by the Auchenheath Christian Fellowship in the later 20th century. Although much of the stained glass in the house has a religious theme, it appears to be of an earlier date than this.
By the 1892 OS map a gasometer and extensive glasshouses are shown to the land to the North of the remaining outbuildings along the line of the railway embankment (now demolished). A map from the 1930s shows the area to the W of the coach house to be glazed (a cobbled floor remains) which may have been used as a garage.