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Dunlop House

A Category A Listed Building in Dunlop, East Ayrshire

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Latitude: 55.7117 / 55°42'41"N

Longitude: -4.5047 / 4°30'16"W

OS Eastings: 242737

OS Northings: 649312

OS Grid: NS427493

Mapcode National: GBR 3G.F325

Mapcode Global: WH3PQ.SP2Q

Plus Code: 9C7QPF6W+M4

Entry Name: Dunlop House

Listing Name: Dunlop House with Bridge

Listing Date: 14 April 1971

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 336535

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB5187

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dunlop

County: East Ayrshire

Electoral Ward: Annick

Parish: Dunlop

Traditional County: Ayrshire

Tagged with: House

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David Hamilton, 1831-4. 3-storey and attic, approximately square-plan, Baronial Tower House with Jacobean strapwork detailing; bartizan turrets with arched slit windows, domed leaded roofs and ball finials; shaped gables; dormer windows with decorative gables; balconied windows; 4-storey square tower to NE; and enclosed single storey service courtyard to N with arched entrance. Droved sandstone ashlar with polished ashlar dressings. Base course; eaves cornice; raised quoin strips (some buckle quoins); architraved windows to ground (some corniced); architraved and corniced windows to upper floors; strapwork pediments to most 1st floor and some 2nd floor windows and dormers.

E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: advanced, gabled entrance tower to centre with bartizan turrets at attic; flanking bays; square tower advanced to outer right. Central 2-leaf timber panelled door in moulded architrave with blind rectangular panel above; flanking paired decorative pilasters; deep balcony above with open strapwork parapet and shield, supported on paired consoles; strapwork pediments to 1st and 3rd floor windows; bartizans corbelled out at 2nd floor; finialed gable. Gabled bay to left with large balconied window at 1st floor; strapwork pediments to all upper floor windows; bartizan turret corbelled out from attic; base of former stack corbelled out at gable apex; base of larger stack corbelled out at 2nd floor to right. Regularly fenestrated 2-window bay to right of centre; finialed dormers breaking eaves to attic, decorative gables, scrolled skewputts. Square tower to outer right regularly fenestrated with slit windows to 3 elevations; arched windows to ground and 1st floor; mini consoled pediments to 1st floor; strapwork pediments to 2nd floor; leaded roof with lantern-finial.

S (SIDE) ELEVATION: advanced irregularly-fenestrated bay to left; balconied window at 1st floor; bartizan turrets; shaped, finialed gable. Modern fire-escape tower to centre (see Notes). 2-storey canted bay window to right with mullioned lights at 1st floor and strapwork parapet above forming balcony to 2nd floor window; slightly advanced gable rising from 2nd floor with finial and scrolled skews; arched slit window to attic. Balustraded parapet to roof.

W (GARDEN) ELEVATION: advanced 3-storey, 3-bay section to right with gables to N and S returns: 2-storey canted bay to left with open loggia at ground and 5-light transomed, mullioned window at 1st floor; balustraded parapet above forming balcony to bipartite 2nd floor window with raised wallhead and elaborate strapwork pediment. Regular fenestration to right with pedimented dormers to 2nd floor windows. Recessed 2-bay section to right: balustraded staircase at ground, rising to doorway; recessed entrance below steps; tripartite mullioned window at 1st floor; corbelled dormers breaking eaves.

N (REAR) ELEVATION: projecting service courtyard to ground: regularly fenestrated, coped, outer wall with lean-to offices inside; basket-arched entrance with moulded architrave; bracketed Baroque bellcote above with rusticated pilasters, scrolled pediments to each elevation, and consoled finial surmounted by cast-iron weathervane. Fairly regular fenestration to house behind; square tower to outer left (see E elevation); gable to right fronted by non-traditional fire-escape (see Notes).

Predominantly 14- and 10-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows. Ashlar-coped skews. Gabled roofs with some piended sections. Graded grey slate with grey ridge tiles.

INTERIOR: ground floor: tiled entrance hall with decorative consoled cornice and framed datestone from previous house (see Notes); groin-vaulted strong room; vaulted wine cellar with 32 bins; reception room to N of lobby with painted marble fireplace and flanking round-arched recesses; cantilevered stone service stair with cast-iron balusters and mahogany rail, rising to 2nd floor. First floor: pilasters and columns with strapwork capitals to landing of principal staircase (stairs removed, see Notes); panelling to dado; corniced timber door architraves; decorative plaster cornicing. Very decorative compartmented plaster ceiling to drawing room with central ceiling rose; brown marble fireplace; decorative cast-iron pelmets over windows. Ante room with bowed end. Dining room with compartmented ceiling (less decorative than Drawing room), decorative timber panelling to dado; timber panelled shutters; decorative cast-iron pelmets; brown marble chimneypiece with strapwork motif cast-iron backplates. Sitting room with working timber panelled shutters, compartmented ceiling and strapwork motif cornice. 2nd floor landing of principal stair with large central skylight, coffered ceiling, timber panelling to dado, corniced timber door architraves and large arch to W wall. Decorative cornicing to most rooms; some timber panelled interior doors and marble chimneypieces.

FOOTBRIDGE: remains of single-arch balustraded footbridge to SE of house. See Notes.

REFERENCES: Appears on 1st edition OS map (1858). NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT (1836), Volume V, p294. A H Millar, CASTLES AND MANSIONS OF AYRSHIRE (1885). John Bayne DUNLOP PARISH (1935), pp139-42. THE SCOTTISH FIELD, May1968, Francis Worsdall, David Hamilton, Architect. M C Davis, THE CASTLES AND MANSIONS OF AYRSHIRE (1991) p250 and elsewhere. H Colvin, BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF BRITISH ARCHITECTS (1995), pp449-52. www.scran.ac.uk (19th century photographs).

Statement of Interest

A-Group with Dunlop House West Lodge. Dunlop House was built for Sir John Dunlop, head of the Dunlop clan and MP for Ayr. David Hamilton was the leading architect in Glasgow at the beginning of the 19th century, and built many public buildings there, for example Hutcheson's Hospital and the Royal Exchange. He also designed a number of large country houses, mainly in the West of Scotland. Dunlop House is extremely unusual for its date both in terms of plan and decorative treatment. Unlike most country houses of this period, which tended to have a horizontal emphasis and large, sprawling service quarters, Dunlop House is relatively compact with emphatically vertical proportions. This makes it one of the earliest examples of baronial revival architecture where a serious attempt is made to emulate the massing of a Scottish tower house, as opposed to merely applying baronial motifs to an English-style manor house. The removal of the tall diagonally-set chimney stacks, which emphasised the unusual height of the building, is unfortunate. The choice of Jacobean / Scottish Renaissance decoration is significant as it indicates an interest in authentic historical detailing that was still quite rare at that date. The most obvious precedents for this type of decoration, which does not just include the strapwork pediments and balustrades, but also the diamond-shaped stacks, buckle quoins, consoled balconies, and tall windows, are George Heriot's Hospital in Edinburgh and Glasgow Old College. There are, however, two local buildings with this type of decoration that were probably more influential. The first is the Skelmorlie Aisle of Largs old church, and the Montgomery Monument inside it (see MacGibbon and Ross, volume V, p194). This has very similar buckle quoins to Dunlop House, a significant amount of strapwork decoration, and almost identical stair balusters to the ones on the forestair on the West elevation. The other building is the Dunlop Aisle of Dunlop Parish Church. This also had strapwork pediments over the window, and it is evident that these were highly regarded because when the church was rebuilt in 1835 the Dunlop Aisle was taken down and rebuilt with its strapwork decoration. From this it is reasonable to infer that John Dunlop had a strong liking for this type of decoration, and it was probably him rather than Hamilton who chose this style for his house. However, although Hamilton never built another building in this style, he was evidently quite taken by it, as he used the Jacobean style for his 1836 competition entry for the Houses of Parliament.

Dunlop House was built to replace an earlier tower house that stood on the same site. Very little is known about this old house as there are no known drawings of it, other than generalized sketches on old maps. It was described by Timothy Pont as 'ane ancient stronghouse, fortified with a deipe foussie of watter'. The most helpful description is to be found in the New Statistical Account, which mentions an 'original square tower' and that 'one of the more modern additions bore the date of 1599', from which one can gather that the original tower had been added to on several occasions, both before and after 1599. It has been suggested that the old house also had strapwork decoration, but as no pictures of it survive, this is a matter of conjecture. According to Francis Wordsall, Sir John originally intended to extend the old house, but in the end it was 'almost completely demolished'. The author of the New Statistical Account (who was writing only two years after the new house had been built) goes even further by saying that the 'whole [previous] building was removed'. It therefore seems unlikely that any fabric from the previous house survives, with the possible exception of the foundations.

When Sir John's son, Sir James, died in 1858, the house was sold to a distant cousin, Thomas Dunlop Douglas, and passed through various members of this family. In 1933 it was sold to Ayrshire County Council, and used as an orphanage and then as an mental asylum. Some internal alterations were done to the house in the mid-Victorian period, probably after Thomas Dunlop Douglas bought it; this probably included the re-location of some of the fireplaces in the principal rooms. Various alterations were made in the 20th century, the most unfortunate one being the removal of the principal staircase. Other alterations included the remodelling of the ground floor to create a number of small offices and other rooms, and the erection of two incongruous fire-escapes on the North and South elevations. The current owner (2004) proposes to convert the building in to flats.

An ornamental footbridge over the Clerkland burn was demolished without consent in about 2003, but it is understood that this is to be rebuilt.

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