MHG17290 - Ardtornish House


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Type and Period (1)

  • COUNTRY HOUSE (Post Medieval - 1560 AD to 1900 AD)

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Full Description

For possible predecessors, see Kinlochaline Castle (NM 6975 4763: NM64NE 3) and Ardtornish Castle (NM 6919 4265: NM64SE 1).

For related buildings see:
NM64NE 25 NM 6991 4972 Claggan School and Schoolhouse
NM64NE 26 NM 6992 4980 Claggan Cottage
NM64NE 28 NM 6981 4762 Ivy Bridge
NM64NE 29 NM 6969 4750 Castle Cottage
NM64NE 30 NM 6947 4836 Larachbeg Old Laundry
NM64NE 32 NM 6974 4833 1-6 Larachbeg
NM64NE 33 NM 6982 4783 Rose Cottage
NM64NE 45 NM 6979 4654 Loch Aline, Boathouses
NM64SE 15 NM 693 433 Old Ardtornish House
NM64SE 16 NM 698 433 Inninbeg
NM64SE 18 NM 6922 4325 Old Ardtornish Steading
NM64SE 19 NM 6951 4331 Bay Cottage
NM64SE 21 NM 6824 4473 Caolas Ferry House
NM64SE 26 NM 6911 4357 Old Ardtornish Cott
NM65SE 14 NM 6703 5212 Durinemast
NM74NW 12.00 NM 704 474 Achranich Farm
NM74NW 12.01 NM 7041 4733 Achranich Farmhouse
NM74NW 12.02 NM 7048 4734 Smith's Barn
NM74NW 12.03 NM c. 705 473 Estate Power Station
NM74NW 12.04 NM c. 704 473 Coach-house
NM74NW 12.05 NM c. 704 473 Byre
NM74NW 14 NM 7005 4728 Old Boathouse
NM74NW 17 NM 7027 4725 Garden, kitchen (walled) garden and cottages
NM74NW 18 NM 7056 4727 Achranich Bridge
NM74NW 19 NM 7067 4730 Riverside
NM74NW 20 NM 7064 4743 to 7071 4754 Pond, dam and sluice
NM74NW 21 NM 7005 4774 Keeper's Cottage
NM74NW 22 NM 7001 4766 Kennels
NM74NW 23 NM 7021 4740 Bridge
NM75SW 13 NM 7006 5035 Acharn farmhouse
NM75SE 6 NM 7503 5223 Clounland
NT0000 2629 Double Cottage

Ardtornish [NAT]
Twr [NAT]
OS 1:10,000 map, 1975.

Ardtornish House, 3.8km NE of Lochaline. Victorian mansion on a lushly planted hillside overlooking Loch Aline, the bare hills of Morvern rising behind. A house was built on the site in 1856-66 for Octavius Smith, who had bought the Achranich estate in 1845. After his purchase of the adjoining lands of Ardtornish from 1860 Smith decided to transfer the name to his uncompleted new residence. In 1884 Smith's son Valentine demolished almost all his father's building (a victim of dry rot), except for its free-standing campanile, and a new and larger mansion designed by Alexander Ross was built in 1885-91.
The campanile of 1856-66 stands higher up on the hillside to the N. Italian Romanesque, built of whin with stugged sandstone dressings. Four stages; the clock-face in the third stage of the S front surrounded by a dogtooth moulding. At the top stage, three-bay belfry arcades with louvres in the openings. Tall slated pavilion roof added after 1885.
Ross's house, a suburban villa afflicted with elephantiasis, is of fireproof construction, built entirely of concrete, the main W (entrance) and S (garden) fronts faced with narrow sandstone ashlars, the rest rendered. Rough T-plan, with the tail projecting N. On this jamb's W front, a loggia of four-centred arches retained from the earlier house but extended from three bays to four and given an upper storey and attic. To the left, a pend arch to the service court behind; above the pend, a hood-moulded three-light window. The principal rooms are all, except the billiard room, in the crossbar. Wrapped around its NW, W and S faces is a glass-roofed verandah. Cast-iron columns with chevrons round the shafts and tall but soggy acanthus capitals bearing individual entablatures, their soffits decorated with rosettes. On the S front, a couple of towers, neither especially martial. The left, in the W inner angle of the projecting centrepiece, is narrow, its top floor jettied out on a continuous corbel course; tall slated pavilion roof with bellcast eaves. Much bigger tower over the dining room at the centrepiece's E end. Five storeys, with hood moulded windows at the upper floors. In the jettied top stage, a row of five small windows. On the left side of the bellcast pavilion roof, a big chimneystack decorated, like the other stacks, with Lombardic detail. NE of the house is the service court, its back wall a segmental curve of concrete offices.
The internal plan is Ross's but most of the decoration was provided in a remodelling of 1908-10 by John Kinross, his designs executed by Scott Morton and Co. and Morison and Co. Ross's furnishings had been neo-Jacobean. They partly survive in the stairhall's blind-arcaded walls and foliage-capitalled granite columns. The rest is by Kinross, an eclectic introduction to his other interiors, all carried out in the very best Grand Hotel manner. Elaborately-carved stair balustrade in the style of c. 1700 (eg. as at Hamilton Palace). Adam-revival cornices and plasterwork on the beams of the trabeated ceilings. Mid-18th century style doorcases, pedimented when giving access to the principal rooms. On the ground floor, W of the Stairhall, is the Library, decorated in the manner of c. 1760, the radiators placed in white marble cases with grille fronts just like those Kinross provided at Manderston (Borders) a few years before. The S front's centrepiece is filled by the Drawing Room and Dining Room. The Drawing Room is a consistent evocation of the manner of c. 1700 (eg. as at Melville House, Fife). Panelled with carved Grinling-Gibbonsish reliefs of foliage and musical instruments. Foliaged plasterwork on the ceiling beams. Simple veined marble chimneypiece. In the Dining Room to the E, the ceiling's late 18th century-style decoration is clearly by Kinross, but the Jacobean chimneypiece looks a left-over bit of Ross's work. Study at the SE corner, a reversion to Kinross's manner of c. 1700.
On the first floor, the main suite of principal bedroom, dressing-room and boudoir is above the dining room and drawing room. Kinross gave the Boudoir a ceiling decorated with reliefs of goddesses in oval compartments. Marble walls and floors in the Bathrooms. Billiard Room at the jamb's NW corner. Kinross transformed it from hammerbeam-roofed Baronial to swishest Adam-revival, with alcoved ends. Lights over the table, their shades held by ram's heads.
J Gifford 1992.

The country house or mansion of Ardtornish House and its associated campanile or clock tower are situated at NM 7033 4753 and NM 7036 4755 respectively.
Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 22 October 1998.

Architect: John Kinross c 1890 - some interiors
Ross & McIntosh 1885 (Alexander Ross)

Present mansion is the second Ardtornish Tower on site, the smaller (1856-66) was demolished in 1884.

A very large collection of drawings for Ardtornish House and Estate (Ardtornish Tower) copied 1994. Ardtornish Drawings Sheet 17: 13 drawings at full size etc not copied, and print of cellar plan.
Drawings not copied because of their fragile state are listed below:

Ardtornish Drawings
Sheet 6 'Ardtornish' Elevation of arcade between housekeeper's Staircase and Billiard Passage.

Sheet 4 Working drawing for new lead platforms etc near main stair.

Sheet 3 Working drawing for 'Ardtornish Servant's Stair'.

Sheet 5 'Ardtornish Roof details' Working drawing for steelwork in roof.

Two slides missing at time of upgrade - 14.10.1996. Borrowed 3.3.1994.

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NM 7032 4753 (40m by 40m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NM74NW
Civil Parish MORVERN
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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