Monday, June 27, 2011

House Love -it's in the blood!

A spot of Jane Austen, anyone? The thought of listed fountains and bridges is rather daunting.
Gorgeous hand-painted silk wallpapers - this green chinoiserie-style example is to die for.
The lovely coastal setting - but how cold would it get in winter?

The main reason for our trip to the UK was to celebrate a a milestone birthday with my father-in-law. It was also a chance for my husband to spend some time with his father where they were both born in the north of England.

No trip would be normal for us however without some sort of property diversion....
I feel a bit awkward writing about this but a good friend and blog follower has been asking and asking me to post about it so here goes.

Don't know if I have mentioned this, (probably not as I am slightly embarrassed to admit it) but in my spare time I have I have been working on the family history with my aunt and mother, really just putting it all on computer and doing some editing and online research. They have kind of handed it on to me to carry on the tradition. Lucky me.

Well, one day I was checking out some details on this rather adventurous great, great, great grandfather and googled his 'house'. Lo and behold up it popped on a posh UK property site, and it was for sale!

I had heard a few tales about the Scottish side of the family, but you know, you think "yeah, yeah, yeah". Well, this house was an absolute cracker. Designed by the most famous architect of the time, it is a Grade 1 listed estate complete with listed fountains, ramshackle but once manicured gardens, a fabulous listed bridge and rolling green pastures.

It was bought by the current owners from "the Family" about 20 years ago and it was too tempting to go and see it and consider the remote possibility of buying it back. Being married to an architect who is a heritage specialist comes in handy at times like these.

It is a long way from London, but we decided to drive up to the Highlands to check it out. "The Pile" as we call it, sits on a rise over looking the ocean, not far from Inverness. It is at the end of a long drive, hidden like a secret garden behind huge, ancient trees.

The house was the passion of my ancestor, an enterprising young Scot who was forced to leave Scotland because of the uprising against the English in the 18th century. He went to Madeira and founded the wine industry and then, as the eldest son, returned home to resume his family "seat" and built this fab house. He must have been as mad as I am about houses as he commissioned the most famous up-and-coming architect of the day, Robert Adam, to design it. Adam was Scottish, so my guess is that they knew each other.

Because of the cold climate, many of the original hand-painted wallpapers are still in pretty good condition and there are many old "Adam" fireplaces and features. Despite being well lived in over the years, the house is still in quite original condition, though a few of the lesser rooms were re-decorated in the seventies.

It could be an interesting project - what do you think?


  1. Oh wow - that's incredible! To have a house in the family (or related to your family) designed by Robert Adam, such as incredible and influential Georgian architect! I am speechless. What an amazing project that would be!

  2. As you know Lady C (as we now call you), I am pistachio green with envy. I think you should insist that you, the rightful inheritors, take up residence immediately! Only thing is the gargantuan heating bill that might go with it...

  3. great post..i hope you enjoyed your trip..thanks for sharing..

  4. Shame about that heating bill and the maintenance bill...