Probably John Paterson, 1809-1813(?), centre canted bay raised and porte cochère probably added circa 1845-50, possibly by John Henderson; E wing altered at 1st floor (from 5 to 3 bays) to mirror W wing (no date, see Notes); 1902 interior alteration including principal 1st floor room. Monumental, stepped symmetrical 2-, 2-storey and attic, 3- and 4-storey, almost rectangular-plan castle-style country house with exceptional interior, vaulted cellars and adjoining court of offices, overlooking designed landscape of Fasque Estate. Vertical emphasis of crenellated polygonal towers divides regularly-fenestrated stepped façade culminating in broad canted centre bay rising into 4-storeys with crenellated rusticated porte cochère. Coursed, squared red/brown sandstone rubble with long and short work quoins, some droved or stugged. Base course, moulded string and eaves cornice, crenellations. Pointed arch tripartite window, semi elliptical pend arch, voussoirs, stone mullions.
FURTHER DESCRIPTION: principal S elevation with deep-set part-glazed 2-leaf panelled timber door in 4-storey canted bay at centre, flanking 3-storey bays under piended roof with 3-stage polygonal towers beyond and 2-storey outer wings with 2-storey and attic outer angle towers, that to right with clock at attic stage and diminutive cupola. E elevation with Gothic tripartite window at left, pend entrance to gabled court of offices at right. Rear (N) elevation overlooking court of offices largely reflects principal elevation with unaltered 3-storey canted centre bay.
INTERIOR: exceptionally fine decorative scheme in place. High quality Classical and Gothic plasterwork cornices, friezes and ceilings; architraved and pedimented doorpieces; marble and timber fire surrounds many with cast iron grates; panelled timber doors and dadoes, dado rails, panelled timber shutters and window seats, early sanitary ware. Decorative scheme includes long entrance hall with pedimented doorcases and round-arched recesses leading to elliptical stair hall with imperial stair dividing into long cantilevered flights rising around wall and meeting at 2nd floor (see Notes) with elegant Classical plasterwork to domed ceiling and Gothic-detailed wall plasterwork incorporating alternating miniature fan vaulting and acroteria, stair windows have etched tripartite inner glazing, top landing door framed by clustered colonettes; 1st floor opens into oval tribune surmounted by dome with round-arched niches and simple ironwork railings.
Principal 1st floor room (formerly 2 rooms) with original doorcases and later deep frieze. Unusual window embrasures flanked by tall fluted quarter columns and oval panels in shutters (see Notes). Library with original bookcases, detailing matches door architraves. Room to E with clustered colonettes to tripartite Gothic window with fireplace beneath centre window (see Notes). Kitchen retains much original timberwork.
4-, 6-, 8- and 12-pane glazing patterns in timber sash and case windows. Decorative astragals to pointed arched window. Graded grey slates. Banded coped ashlar and brick stacks with cans, some polygonal; ashlar-coped skews and gable finials. Cast iron downpipes with decorative rainwater hoppers.
COURT OF OFFICES: tall 2-storey and attic, multi-gabled E range adjoins house at pend arch. Lower link ranges, gabled and piended, form flat-sided C-plan to N and W.
Not seen 2008 but laundry understood to contain stove, pulley operated ceiling drying rack and press operated by outside waterwheel, and wash-house understood to contain 2 coal fired boilers and original wooden sinks.
SUNDIAL: polygonal sundial sited to S of main door with circular stone plinth, moulded pillar (possibly recut) and gnomon.
Statement of Special Interest
A Group with Stable Block and Apple House with Walled Garden.
An import cast style country house which survives largely intact and retains an exceptionally fine and complete interior decorative scheme. Fasque House is sited within the finely landscaped Fasque Estate with the foothills of the Grampians rising behind and rolling parkland to the front. Work to replace an earlier house, which was sited just to the west of today's Fasque House, started in 1809. Sir Alexander Ramsay of Balmain, who was a great 'improver', had previously called in William Adam to remodel the old Fasque House, and the unexecuted plan and elevation are illustrated in Vitruvius Scoticus. Sir Alexander Burnet, second son of Sir Thomas Burnet of Leys, inherited the estate in 1806 but died in 1810 soon after work on the house which we see today had begun. His son, also Sir Alexander, completed the project which is said to have cost £30,000.
A print, which was held at Fasque in 1979, drawn by J S Paterson a drawing master from Montrose and published in 1824 shows the front elevation before the top storey was added to the centre bay. The Estate was sold in 1829 to John Gladstone, who is known as the founder of the family fortunes. John, who was created baronet in 1846, dropped the final 's' from the family name of 'Gladstones'. Estate development continued under Sir John as well as alterations to the house which included adding the 4th storey to the centre bay and adding the porte cochère. These changes are stylistically attributed to John Henderson who designed St Andrew's Episcopal Church, sited just east of the house, in 1847. In 1851 Sir John was succeeded by his eldest son Sir Thomas. William, the younger brother, who was four times Prime Minister, was a regular visitor to Fasque.
In 1976, after being mothballed for some years, Peter Gladstone and his wife set about repair and redecoration, and opened Fasque House to visitors. Throughout its history, almost nothing had been thrown away and the house presented an outstandingly complete picture of country estate life.
The design of Fasque House is attributed to John Paterson on stylistic grounds. Paterson, the son of an experienced architect and builder, had a successful country house practice in Scotland and the north of England. Paterson had been appointed as clerk of works by the Adam Brothers on a number of sites, and after their deaths he 'became a leading exponent of the castle style they had pioneered' and 'assimilated the characteristic principles of the Adam style, becoming the main practitioner in the Adam Castle idiom in the early 19th century, with a flair for designing elegant interiors, particularly oval and circular rooms, reminiscent of his master' (Sanderson). These design characteristics are seen in the elegant staircase at Fasque which is presumably modelled on Robert Adam's imperial staircase at Home House (circa 1775) in London.
Externally, the principal façade of Fasque is very similar to Eglinton Castle, Aysrhire where John Paterson was working in 1797. However, an unexecuted design for the south front of Eglinton Castle by John Baxter and dated 1775 also displays the characteristic centre bay detail of Fasque.
Binney also notes the use of a typically Aberdeen characteristic at Fasque. The oval panels on the drawing room shutters may, he suggests, indicate the hand of a northern architect, perhaps John Smith. However, a full list of Smith's works does not mention Fasque House, and the detail may be the work of an Aberdeen joiner.
The first floor east wing of the principal elevation has been altered to achieve an overall symmetry. The evidence of blocked windows which would have let in more light, together with references to exotic plants growing in the house has led to the suggestion that there may have been a first floor conservatory as at Pitfour in Aberdeenshire.
The tripartite Gothic window to the east elevation has a fireplace under the middle window with the flue running up one of the flanking piers, a detail also found at Lord Burlington's Chiswick House.
It is probable that John Paterson was also responsible for the design of Fasque Estate's fine Stable Block as well as the Apple House and Walled Garden, South Lodge and Octagon (all listed separately). Comparative work can be seen at the separately listed distinctive D-plan Gothic Fetteresso Church in Stonehaven, and alterations to the 17th century Fetteresso Castle which included a central castellated tower.
The rare survival of this fine house and estate may be due to the fact that it remained in the Gladstone family from 1829 until the beginning of the 21st century. At the time of writing (2009) the Estate is being marketed and the contents have been removed.
Also listed on the Fasque Estate are Fasque House, Apple House with Walled Garden, South Lodge and Gates, Octagon, Home Farm Bothy, Mains of Fasque House, Old Mains Cottages and Bogendollo.
List description revised 2009.