Predominantly mid 19th Century, with 18th century core incorporating 17th century fragments; house principally enlarged between 1839 and 1862 (see Notes for architects involved) to form picturesque, 2- and 3-storey Baronial mansion house; 1902-3 wing at SE by Robert Lorimer. Principal elevations to NW and SE punctuated by irregular arrangement of oriel windows, drum towers, turrets, crowstepped gables and fenestration. Ochre harled with polished and tooled ashlar margins and dressings.
Entrance porch to SE in projecting gable; decorated with engaged columns, crest, strapwork and ball finials. Blocked corbel tables and rope moulded string courses; angles embellished with drum towers or corbelled bartizans, either round or square. Roofscape with turrets terminating either with circular balustraded wallhead, ogee or conical roofs. Gun-loops, decorative pediments to dormer windows.
2-, 4- and 12-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows. Coped end and ridge stacks; slate roofs; some ridges with decorative cast-iron brattishing.
INTERIOR: mainly reflects 1862 alterations with extensive restoration work undertaken between 2002 and 2010. Vestibule with walls marbled by painter Charles Hesp of York. Drawing room with re-used early 19th century marble chimneypiece. 1902-3 former dining room with coffered plaster ceiling decorated with Tudor roses.
Statement of Special Interest
Aldourie Castle is an exceptional example of 19th century Baronial architecture. The building was enlarged gradually and imaginatively from the mid 19th to the early 20th century, guided by the hands of a procession of pre-eminent Scottish architects of the period. Artistically rich and diverse, the property is equally renowned for art collections and for its fine interiors, a number of which have been carefully restored by the present owner.
Architectural attribution of the numerous phases of agrandisement carried out between 1839 and 1963 is complex and partially conjectural due to gaps in documentary evidence. For example, the plain Jacobean additions of 1839 are reminiscent of the hand of William Burn who was working nearby at the time. The East Wing and tower house additions of 1851 were carried out by the North-East partnership, Mackenzie and Matthews. The 2nd phase of Baronialisation was carried out in the 1860s. Drawings by David Bryce dated 1861 exist, as do alternative schemes drawn up a year later by Peddie and Kinnear. While elements of both appear in the extant building, the eminent architectural historian, Professor David Walker believes the 1863-64 remodelling was carried out by Matthews again, this time with his new partner William Lawrie, adopting the best of the Bryce and Kinnear schemes (Country Life Magazine, Jan 2011). Robert Lorimer was commissioned to remodel the projecting wing on the entrance front as a dining room and further works to the kitchen and service quarters in 1902.
The interiors, including hall, drawing room, bedrooms and bathrooms, have been restored to their 1860s character; the chimneypiece was salvaged from Belladrum mansion near Beauly, which was demolished around 1959. Specialist paintwork, murals, metalwork fixtures were also commissioned and restored throughout (2011).
Aldourie estate was originally the property of the Mackintoshes of Kyllachy in Nairnside, since at least 1600. It was bought by Edinburgh lawyer, William Fraser in 1754 as a summer residence and remained in the Fraser-Tytler family until the mid 20th century. It was the family home of artist Mary Seton Watts (born Mary Seton Fraser-Tytler 1849-1938), the renowned Scottish symbolist and Arts and Crafts revivalist.
Change of Category from B to A, 11 February 2003. List Description revised, 2011.