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Stirling University Campus, Airthrey Castle

A Category B Listed Building in Stirling North, Stirling

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.1482 / 56°8'53"N

Longitude: -3.9135 / 3°54'48"W

OS Eastings: 281221

OS Northings: 696709

OS Grid: NS812967

Mapcode National: GBR 1D.JNSD

Mapcode Global: WH4P0.VQMK

Entry Name: Stirling University Campus, Airthrey Castle

Listing Date: 5 September 1973

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 342867

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB10412

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Logie (Stirling)

County: Stirling

Electoral Ward: Stirling North

Traditional County: Stirlingshire

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Description

Robert Adam, 1790-91; substantial later remodelling by David Thomson, 1890-91; linked hospital accommodation block to E 1952. 2-storey, and basement D-plan castellated mansion house with late 19th century Scots Baronial recasting of original house to N and E elevations; 4-stage square plan tower off centre to N elevation. Sandstone ashlar, droved at N elevation and to ground floor at S; E block rendered. Set in university campus grounds on ground rising to the NW.

S ELEVATION (1790-91): 12-bay, with 2-storey bowed centrepiece rising into attic storey. Symmetrical curved 5-bay wings, with slightly advanced central 3 bays flanking bowed centrepiece; wings terminated at angles by square plan towers with tall round arched surrounds at ground floor. Balustraded splayed stair oversailing basement to centre section. Moulded cill course at ground floor; string course at 1st floor and banded cill course at attic to centre section. Crenellated parapet on mock corbelled machiolation. Small parapeted bartizans to flanking bays. Narrow square and round headed blind openings to towers; small roundels at attic. Cruciform mock gunloops at tower parapets.

N ELEVATION (1890-1891): Roughly 3-storey, 6 bays, tower off centre to right (W) flanked by bowed terminal bay. Single bay return to E flanked by octagonal plan towers. Banded base course to tower. Moulded round arched surround to main entrance at ground floor to tower. Moulded cill course at ground floor; paired moulded string courses at 1st floor; carved roundel panels at bowed bay to E. Banded stepped cill course to tower at 3rd stage; banded cill course at 4th stage. Crenellated parapet on mock corbelled machiolation. Asymmetric rectangular dormers to attic. Crow-stepped gables. Moulded architraved windows, some bipartite and tripartite at ground and 1st floors. Roughly 3-bay rectangular-plan late 19th century hall, with glazed 1st floor, links to mid 20th century E block.

E BLOCK (1952): rectangular-plan block to E containing offices and former maternity hospital. Rendered with ashlar surrounds to S (garden) elevation. Irregular fenestration with some bipartite windows.

Predominantly plate glass in timber sash and case, with some 12-pane timber sash and case to S (garden elevation). Pitched roof to N elevation; grey slates. Corniced ashlar ridge stacks; octagonal clay cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: Italian Renaissance style interior replacing the original Adam decorative scheme, although retaining some of the original 18th century layout. Rooms arranged around the curved rear elevation with a central staircase and further rooms to NE in 19th century addition. Additional office and hospital accommodation to SE within 20th century addition; linked to main block by a large glazed hall (formerly cafeteria). Large double height hall to centre of plan at ground floor including staircase, and bowed bay. Highly detailed late 19th century oak panelling in 16th century Flemish style with 3 horizontal carved friezes; large fireplace to right with Corinthian columns supporting large oak mantel; relief of putti with linked arms over. Italian Renaissance fireplace with floreate pilasters, male and female figures and majolica inlaid tiles at rear to right. Panelled oak doors. Some late 18th century fireplaces survive at 1st floor; all painted. Cornicing at ground and 1st floors, some egg and dart; remains of a ribbed and bossed plaster ceiling with triangular and vesica shapes at 2nd floor. Various additional decorative features including 18th century German altar and 15th century Italian roundel to upper floors.

Statement of Interest

A good example of the later castle style of Robert Adam with a picturesque late 18th century composition as evidenced at the S garden elevation. The front elevation (N) was completely remodelled in the 1890s by David Thomson in a late Scots Baronial style which included an Italian Renaissance interior, although some of the Adam layout was retained. Both N and S elevations are good examples of their type, and retain an integrity of design as two discrete elevations.

Around the mid 20th century the building became a maternity hospital. The last phase of additions for the hospital sold off 98 acres of land in 1952 and at the same time began additions to the SE of the plan to provide accommodation for the nurses working in the maternity hospital housed in the adjacent former house. The conservatory was also remodelled at this point to provide a linking corridor, with some marble staues removed. When the University of Stirling was established in 1966 the building became part of the campus and passed into University ownership in 1969. It was used as offices and teaching space from this date to present.

The commission for Airthrey Castle was made by Robert Haldane who settled at Airthrey after his marriage to Katherine Cochrane Oswald. He spent ten years improving the landscape which included the excavation of Airthrey Loch. The initial designs from Adam were for a Neo-Classical scheme but Haldane preferred a later castellated design. He proved to be far from an ideal client and paid Adam off for the designs dealing directly with Thomas Russell who had built Seton Castle (see separate listing). He used the money he saved on architects fees to pay for droved ashlar at the ground floor. As the design was executed without the supervision of Adam the forecourt and interval towers were never realised. The estate was bought in 1889 by Mr Donald Graham for £75,000 who commissioned the remodelling of the N façade at a cost of £15,700.

Robert Adam (1728-1792) moved away from the strict regimentation of Palladian design towards designs which were self consciously picturesque with decorative classical interiors after his move to London from 1758 onwards. His response to the picturesque in Scotland often involved the use of castellated architecture, most famously at Culzean Castle (see separate listing). Adam's response to the site at Airthrey was initially classical but the castellated design is a direct response to the site set above the loch and with a backdrop of trees and crags. The sweeping curve of the S (garden) elevation is also an excellent example of his concept of movement in architectural design and the combination of rooflines and turrets with the curving façade are key parts of the composition. The original design also included a walled courtyard and turreted entrance, similar to that at Wedderburn (see separate listing).

David Thomson was a prolific architect operating predominantly in Stirlingshire and the West of Scotland. He worked mainly on Church, School and Country House work, including Benmore House and gate lodges (see separate listings).

(List description updated as part of a review of the University of Stirling Campus 2009).

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