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Rosehall House

A Category B Listed Building in North, West and Central Sutherland, Highland

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Latitude: 57.9773 / 57°58'38"N

Longitude: -4.5805 / 4°34'49"W

OS Eastings: 247487

OS Northings: 901585

OS Grid: NC474015

Mapcode National: GBR H72M.SPR

Mapcode Global: WH3BN.MR0D

Plus Code: 9C9QXCG9+WQ

Entry Name: Rosehall House

Listing Name: Rosehall House and Walled Garden

Listing Date: 18 March 1971

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 330477

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB275

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Creich (Highland)

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: North, West and Central Sutherland

Parish: Creich (Highland)

Traditional County: Sutherland

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1818-25, dated 1822 but probably incorporating earlier fabric, 'improvements' by Alexander Ross, 1873 (see Notes). Symmetrical 2-storey 7-bay classical mansion with projecting 2-storey and single storey rear wings forming shallow U-plan, partly infilled with later servant's passage additions. Unique notable late 1920s interior scheme designed by Coco Chanel (see Notes). Coursed grey and pink freestone with honey-coloured Moray sandstone dressings. Ribbon pointing. Deep eaves. In poor repair (2006).

SOUTH (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: slightly advanced central 5-bay block with central wide corniced doorpiece with 4-panel timber 2-leaf door with rectangular margined fanlight above and flanked by narrow sidelights between paired Roman Doric pilasters. Above, blind 1st floor window with datestone above. Wide open pediment with deep bracketed soffits spans central 3 bays.

Predominantly 16- and 24-pane timber sash and case windows. Corniced end, lateral and ridge stacks. Slate roofs.

INTERIOR: simple classical interior with Chanel scheme. Wide entrance hall flanked by pair of large well-proportioned reception rooms with 6-panel 2-leaf timber doors, timber dado and simple cornices. That to right with Ionic columned recess, that to left with simpler Doric pilastered recess. Some lesser rooms stripped to stone walls due to dry rot. Barrel-vaulted gun room with metal door and barred window, former kitchen with cast-iron range, both to West wing.

Chanel scheme: very simple, throughout principal rooms. Hessian-textured wallpaper painted shades of beige with matt darker buff/beige coloured paintwork. Stage-set style simple (buff/beige) painted timber chimneypieces, some original cast-iron grates, some brick/tile replacements. First floor room with hand-blocked French floral wallpaper. Some bathrooms painted green. Early Shanks bidet to first floor bathroom to W (see Notes).

WALLED GARDEN: immediately to E of house, rubble walls with flat coping. Incorporating to W pair of mirrored L-plan single storey and loft ancillary buildings with steeply pitched roofs with pointed arch windows facing garden.

Statement of Interest

A good example of a simple classical mansion house with a unique interior scheme by the internationally renowned fashion designer Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel (1883-1971).

Rosehall was built for Richard Dunning, 2nd Lord Ashburton (1782-1823). He bought Rosehall Estate in 1806 and the house burnt down in May 1817. It was replaced with this classical house which Beaton notes is in the style of William Robertson. Ashburton linked Rosehall with the River Oykel by a no longer extant canal and used it to ship the Moray stone for the dressings. It is likely that the present Rosehall incorporates some fabric from the former house, such as the West wing with its barrel vaulted ceiling. The work undertaken by Ross in 1873 probably included adding further servants' quarters parallel to the rear of the house. The previous list description notes that there are underground passages below the house, with entrances in the retaining walls, to accommodate a footpath which formerly passed in front of the South elevation.

Rosehall was acquired by Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster (1879-1953), in the late 1920s. At this time, Chanel was his mistress. Although he only owned Rosehall for a very short time (possibly as few as 2 years) the interior was not to Chanel's liking and she redecorated it in her celebrated chic style. The striking simplicity, with shades of beige and basic replacement chimneypieces in painted timber, would have been significantly radical for its time. This is the only known house in Scotland with an interior by Chanel and its survival is remarkable. Beige was a colour which Chanel frequently used in her interiors, such as her office door at the famous Rue Cambon Chanel showrooms in Paris and the sofa in her apartment on the second floor. Local knowledge had suggested that the house contained the first bidet in Scotland, installed as part of Chanel's scheme, however this seems unlikely as bidet's were being manufactured in Scotland from the early 1900s. This particular model appears to feature in Shank's 1912 catalogue, albeit produced for the French market.

The house has been uninhabited since 1967 and is now (2006) in poor condition with extensive dry rot. Much of the beige wallpaper is peeling away from the wall.

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