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Latitude: 56.0661 / 56°3'57"N
Longitude: -3.3063 / 3°18'22"W
OS Eastings: 318764
OS Northings: 686685
OS Grid: NT187866
Mapcode National: GBR 24.PTBK
Mapcode Global: WH6RZ.5STJ
Entry Name: The Murrell Including Ancillary Buildings, Garden Terraces, Walled Raised and Water Gardens and Rockery
Listing Date: 2 May 1973
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 334717
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB3598
Building Class: Cultural
Location: Aberdour (Fife)
Electoral Ward: Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay
Parish: Aberdour (Fife)
Traditional County: Fife
Francis William Deas, 1908. 2-storey, small Arts and Crafts country house, irregular plan. Semicircular sunken entrance courtyard to house. Curved range attached to NE of house incorporates 2-storey servants' wing, single storey service wing, steading range and former racquets court and semicircular servants' courtyard. Former workshop with 1st floor fruit store to E of house and motorhouse to far E. Squared, snecked sandstone rubble, tooled in places. Predominantly segmental arched openings. 2 garden terraces to S of house, walled garden to SE of house with raised garden to S and water garden to far S.
HOUSE: N (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: round-arched porch flanked by gabled bay to right and rounded stair tower to left. Central bay: wide arch to centre right opens into covered porch; large recessed window ahead; door in left return; narrow window to left of archway. Bay to right; narrow horizontal window set high at ground floor, 1st floor window to right; tall wallhead stack to left of gabled bay. Narrow horizontal windows set back above catslide porch at 1st floor. Bay to left: rounded stair tower with small ground floor window to right and 2 long 1st floor stair windows. Servants' wing to left of stair tower.
E ELEVATION: bay to left: door to right, 1st floor window to centre left. Bell with piended roof projects from centre of gable; right gable broken by wallhead stack. Bay to right: large central ground floor and 1st floor windows. Stone steps lead to basement; basement door and window. Single storey linking wing to left of ground floor door connects house to former workshop; window and narrow door in right return. Splayed servants' wing to E.
S ELEVATION: curved elevation. Square-plan buttress at SW corner. Centred canted window on stone base with 5 leaded panels above, decorated with alternating thistle and fruit motif. Window to left, 1st floor window above. Window to right (former open breakfast loggia) with glazed door. 1st floor glazed door with flanking windows centred above canted window; window to far right; narrow window set between 2nd and 3rd bay.
W ELEVATION: wall extends from left quoin to support leaded and glazed roof of verandah; door setback to left. 1st floor window to left. Gabled bay to right; large canted window with canted stone base built up from slope to S. Leaded panels above with thistle and fruit motif; central 1st floor door and flanking windows above as with S elevation. Flight of stone steps hug stone base of canted window turning at mid height to meet upper stone terrace running to S elevation. Rockery set to descending SW slope below house.
Predominantly timber boarded doors with strap hinges. Various paned timber casement windows some with central top hung opening ventilation panes. Pitched and swept roof, red clay pantiles, ribbed polygonal roof to stair tower. Stone skews with rounded apex, squared plain skewputts. Stone wallhead stacks and 2 stone ridge stacks tapered at apex, circular clay cans.
INTERIOR: square-plan study with canted window (former dining room) to S. Oak panelling to ceiling height with moulded timber cornice and skirting boards. Boarded oak doors; strap hinges, timber latches and handles. Small, rectangular piscina recessed into panelling to right of door lined with blue and coloured Delft tiles, brass tap, cupboard above and below. Centred, tall moulded polished stone mantelpiece, tiled surround with hooded hearth, ventilation flap set within timber panel above, flanking cupboards. Centred buffet recess to W. Drawing room; rectangular room to W with large canted window. Oak panelling to E wall with moulded, polished stone fireplace to centre, flanking recessed shelves with low cupboards beneath, oak beams to ceiling. Fixed timber bench seat to all sides of canted window. Semi-circular oak staircase hugs sides of stair tower, central newel post; chamfered upper section surmounted by carved cherub, saucer dome with modelled plaster above stair. Fitted washbasins to Hopton Wood stone pedestal tops to bedrooms.
SERVANTS' AND SERVICE WINGS AND STEADING RANGE:
NW & NE ELEVATIONS: servants' wing splayed at 45 degrees to NE of house; stair tower of house to right; sweeping roof with 2 dormer windows; 3 tiny ground floor windows arranged above each other to left of stair tower. Window to left; piended 1st floor window to left; ground floor window to far left below swept wall head. Single storey service wing to right connects to steading range: 3 windows; (timber shutters to left window, former coal store). Central covered gateway leading to service court with flanking swept walls, window to each flank; that to right with timber shutters (former coke store). Steading range to NE of gateway: stable; door to left, pair of small windows set close to eaves to right, plain wall of raquets court to left with door to far left, byre to right of stable; door to left, small window set close to eaves to right, further pair of doors to right of byre leading to men's WC and former wood store. A number of pantiles raised in roof of byre and stable for ventilation.
SE & SW ELEVATIONS: servantss' wing; adjoined to house at angle, 3 windows to ground floor, door set between 2nd and 3rd window, swept wallhead to far right joining single storey service wing, various openings and very tall wallhead stack to washhouse. Centred gateway with pair of facing doors in passageway, swept wallhead to left and right with flanking doors beneath (door to right leading to former dairy). Slightly advanced washhouse to left of gateway; centred door with flanking windows. Various openings to right of gateway. Advanced raquets court, right, recessed termination of steading wing to E; pair of doors with passageway to motor house to right.
Windows and doors similar to house. Predominantly piended red clay pantiled roofs. Ridge stack to servants' wing. Ridge light well to racquets court.
INTERIOR: servants' wing; large kitchen to ground in original location, servants' morning room to adjacent NE converted to 2nd kitchen. Servants' back stair to rear linking ground and 1st floor. 1st floor former servants' bedroom and stores converted to large single bedroom. Washhouse; washboiler to SW wall, white glazed tiles with copper wash pot, ivy leaf detail to handle. Stable; swept timber stall divider, stone troughs to ground, ventilation openings to roof space. Byre; timber stall divider, timber hay feeder to wall, stone troughs to ground, false ceiling. Raquets court; timber floor with faint court line traces, false ceiling. Narrow, steep timber staircase to SE leading to enclosed small viewing gallery set above court to SE.
FORMER WORKSHOP WITH SCREEN WALL: 2-storey, single bay, square-plan workshop set to E of house connected to house by single storey linking wing. S elevation: centred ground floor window, bull's-eye window at 1st floor. W elevation: attached to house at ground by single storey, wing, rectangular window at 1st. N elevation: stone forestair running from centre to left, centred window to ground, bull's-eye window at 1st floor. E elevation: forestair running from right to left, small understair door to right, 2 narrow windows to centre and left, central 1st floor door. 3 circular clay ventilators in triangular arrangement to each gable head.
Timber boarded door with strap hinges. Various paned timber casement windows, leaded panes to bull's eye windows. Gable to each elevation forming cruciform-plan; red clay pantiled roof. Stone sandstone skews with rounded apex, squared plain skewputts. sandstone skews with rounded apex, squared plain skewputts. Wallhead stack to NE corner.
High screen wall running from workshop to motor house, courtyard to N, garden terrace to S. Door set close to workshop, 3 thick, stepped rectangular-plan buttresses to centre and right running on S wall pantiled wallhead.
MOTOR HOUSE: tall, square-plan motor house to far E of screen wall, 2 sides set within walled garden to descending S slope. Open to ground floor N, sliding timber garage doors. Row of small windows below eaves with later inserted row of windows below. Central hoist door breaking eaves with hoist in situ. Plain wall to E, steading range attached to W. Tall garden elevation at S due to slope; 3 bull's-eye windows set close to eaves, window at right near to ground illuminates car pit.
Piended roof, swept at eaves, red clay pantiles, dovecot to apex, above flight holes to each elevation.
TERRACED GARDEN: to S of house stepped down to S; terraces run full length of house and wings. Raised, buttressed and coped upper stone terrace Broad walkway with lawned area, gravel path set close to terrace wall. 8 stepped, thick full height rectangular buttresses. Open section of wall near house with balusters supporting hand rail. Lower stone rubble lower terrace with rose garden running to S. Steep slope descends southwards small triangular-shaped orchard.
WALLED GARDEN: located to SE of service wing. Snecked sandstone rubble wall with red clay pantiles to wallheads. Rectangular outshot (possibly potting shed) centred at shallow curved section to N outerwall, various openings, doorway to garden set at curve to NW. Garden set into descending S slope. Stepped walls to W and E running down slope. Gabled section of each stepped wallhead decorated by tiles in zig-zag design. Very tall S wall; central doorway with 10 regularly arranged tall, stepped buttresses to outer wall. Stairs and circular stone gatepiers with shallow stone dome coping link garden to raised terrace to W, doorway to foot of stair linking garden with lower terrace. Glass canopy with large timber arched brackets set against shallow curved central section of N inner wall. Timber framed lean-to glass house with brick base within NE corner of walled garden.
RAISED GARDEN: located to S of walled garden, (former rose garden, originally tennis court). Built into S descending slope, raised upper terrace to N, gravel path running W to E, centred flight of steps descending to lower terrace. Lower terrace raised by low stone rubble retaining walls, yew hedging above, centred flight of steps descending to W, E and S. Large rectangular flower beds, 4 intersecting stone paths radiating from central sunken pond (empty, 2002), sundial to centre.
WATER GARDEN: canalised section of Dour Burn running E to W to S of raised garden, pathway running adjacent. Burn channelled over rough stone cascade built into SW slope, descending stone steps adjacent to cascade, small gorge lined with ferns. Small timber foot- bridge across burn to SW of raised garden. Burn turns sharply to SW emptying into large pond to S of main house.
Deas was described, after his death, in the RIAS Quarterly Journal in 1951, as having 'a profound respect for the Scottish mason' and succeeding "in producing that grandeur in Scottish domestic stone design which alone can be achieved through a combination of complete knowledge and sympathetic understanding with the practical." Deas had initially wanted to be an interior decorator but Robert Lorimer, his friend, persuaded him to train as an architect. He trained as a pupil in the office of Sir Robert Rowand Anderson between 1890-1896 and also attended the School of Applied Arts setting up his own office in 1908 at 23 Rutland Square, Edinburgh. Despite the Murrel being built early on in Deas' career it is a sophisticated and well planned essay in small country house design heavily steeped in the arts and crafts tradition. The house is sited on a steep slope descending S and SW providing not only seclusion within its own valley but good views from the house and garden terraces. Built for himself, the house only needed to be large enough to accommodate him and to comfortably hold a small number of guests, much of the site is taken up by ancillary buildings The various elements of The Murrel are seamlessly integrated with the shared use of sandstone (Deas used stone from 4 different quarries for variety in colour) and red clay pantiles to the undulating roofs and wallheads drawing inspiration from vernacular buildings in the local area. Although a house with a sophisticated ventilation/heating system and such luxuries as a motor house and raquets court; it still is essentially rooted in the ethos of the Arts and Crafts tradition of the late 19th century. The simple rustic feel extends to the interior with its simple timber plank doors, panelled timber walls and low beamed ceilings. Equipped with a small steading and a walled fruit and vegetable garden enabling a degree of self sufficiency in line with the arts and crafts yearning for a return to a simpler life. The influence of Robert Lorimer, who often stayed at the Murrel, can be seen throughout the house and gardens with examples such as decoration to the canted windows, the carved cherub on the staircase and the walled garden gatepiers to the upper terrace. Deas made use of the garden as an extension of the living space; the house was built with 2 verandahs, one to the drawing room so Deas could take supper in the fading sunlight and the now enclosed former loggia to the S which was envisaged to breakfast at. Deas designed the gardens to be made up of distinct elements, which complemented the house and surroundings, but were also functional. The attractive buttressed wall to the upper terrace is not only visually pleasing and attractive but also acts to shield the servants and steading wing from the formal terraces creating a servants courtyard. Unfortunately Deas was forced to sell The Murrel in 1916 due to financial difficulties. Deas connection with Aberdour and the surrounding area continued as in 1919 he was commissioned to build the World War 1 memorial at the then parish church (see separate listing). He also carried out work for the Earl of Moray at his Fife and Morayshire estates.
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