A large two-storey house, dating from around 1820 to 1840, designed in the cottage ornée (ornamental cottage) style. It is constructed of red sandstone rubble with broached or polished ashlar dressings. The three-bay main (south) elevation has two Roman Doric columns that support a central projecting porch and an upper storey room. There are bipartite windows in the outer bays, with eaves raised over to give swept heads above the windows.
The east elevation has four bays, with bow windows to the outer bays of the ground floor. The west elevation has three bays with a canted window to the southwest.
There are deeply ribbed Tudor style hoodmoulds to all the window openings. The windows are timber double glazed units with applied diamond pane astragals). There are overhanging timber bargeboarded eaves. The roof is slate and there are corniced ridge chimney stacks, with stone copings to the roof ridges.
The interior was seen in 2017. The internal plan form has been significantly altered and there are few architectural features of note.
In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the attached 20th century flat roofed extension to the northwest and the boathouse to the northeast.
Statement of Special Interest
Dating from the early 19th century, Croft Downie is a distinctive cottage ornée or ornamental cottage style house with a good amount of surviving exterior architectural detailing which is typical of the building type. The building retains its picturesque setting in its prominent position over the Moray Firth.
The building known as Croft Downie dates to the earlier part of the 19th century. It first appears as Craigton Cottage on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed in 1872). It is described in the Ordnance Survey Name Book as being a 'fine two Storied Villa Slated and in excellent repair and has suitable offices attached it is situated on the property of [The] Right Hon. [Honourable] H. J. Ballie of Redcastle'.
The ornamental cottage or cottage ornée style became popular in Scotland in the first quarter of the 19th century. This rusticated style of cottage architecture stems from the 18th century Romantic period and is characterised by decoratively carved bargeboarding and ornamentation. The style was increasingly popularised following the publication of James Malton's Essay on British Cottage Architecture (1802) and John Papworth's Designs for Rural Residences (1818). It was a fashionable architectural style due to the growing interest of the middle-class in the picturesque and designs for a home with a rustic retreat appearance. The cottage ornée style was further popularised by J.C. Loudon in his Encyclopaedia on Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture (1846). Listed examples of the cottage ornée style can be seen predominantly on large estates in Scotland. Some examples of this style include the Gardener's Cottage on Drumlanrig Estate (cat A, LB17297); and Ladyholme Cottage designed for Coulter Mains House (cat C, LB1425). Croft Downie is unusually large and does not form part of a planned estate.
A number of houses in this architectural style survive from the early 19th century however the building type is relatively rare in the Highland region. Although the windows have been replaced, some chimneys removed, and the interior has been significantly altered, the building retains sufficient architectural interest in the external design and stonework, from the Doric-columned porch, to the hoodmoulds and canted bays. Croft Downie is a notable and unusually large example for its building type and date. This is described in more detail below.
There is an associated timber boathouse at the nearby shorefront, to the northeast of the house, which is also depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map. This boathouse is now in a ruinous condition and is not of special interest in listing terms.
Architectural or Historic Interest
The internal room layout, in particular the ground floor, has been extensively altered. There are few decorative features to the interior. There is no interest in listing terms under this heading.
The plan form of the building is predominantly rectangular. The internal plan form has had most of its interior partitions removed to the ground floor. There is no interest in listing terms under this heading.
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
A growing appreciation of the picturesque in the earlier 19th century was made manifest in the building of a rustic cottage. This was especially fashionable in the Regency period and was made popular by architects such as John Nash in England and James Gillespie Graham in Scotland.
Although later extended, Croft Downie is an unusually large example of house in the cottage ornée design and retains features which are typical of its style. The two-storey building's composition is asymmetrical and while it is two storeys is still low in appearance, designed to fit into the picturesque wooded landscape as its backdrop. Each elevation is varied with advanced and recessed sections and a variety of roof pitches and canted windows. The piended roof is shallow pitched and undulating, and this emphasises the low outline of the building, decorative bargeboarding, deep eaves and diamond paned windows are typical of the cottage ornée design. The central advanced and columned porch section that projects above the eaves is a distinctive and prominent feature of the house. All the windows were replaced around 2005 however the glazing pattern is still in keeping with the style of the house.
The 20th century flat roof addition to the rear (northwest) is of a standard type and has been excluded from the statutory address.
The building is in a secluded setting along a wooded slope in prominent position above the shore overlooking the Moray Firth and Inverness. The wooded setting is informal and the house would likely have been designed with this picturesque backdrop in mind.
There are no known regional variations.
Close Historical Associations
There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2017).
Statutory address, category of listing changed from B to C and listed building record revised in 2017. Previously listed as 'North Kessock, Croft Downie'.