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Bellabeg House

A Category A Listed Building in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.2038 / 57°12'13"N

Longitude: -3.0685 / 3°4'6"W

OS Eastings: 335541

OS Northings: 813058

OS Grid: NJ355130

Mapcode National: GBR WD.04T3

Mapcode Global: WH6LN.T6ZC

Plus Code: 9C9R6W3J+GH

Entry Name: Bellabeg House

Listing Name: Bellabeg House

Listing Date: 16 April 1971

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 349904

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB16188

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Strathdon

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Parish: Strathdon

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Find accommodation in


Almost certainly 1690-1730 and earlier, minor alterations 1765; kitchen wing link early 20th century, addition to W later 20th century. Fine 2-storey and attic with evidence of cellar, 5-bay, T-plan laird's house overlooking the Lonach field, and least altered of principal houses of glen. Incorporating early single storey kitchen wing with monumental semicircular fireplace arch, semicircular nepus gable and fine original interior detail. Red granite ashlar with contrasting dark granite cherry caulking, some harl to sides and rear. Stone cills and lintels, keystoned round-headed window to nepus gable, timber mullion.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: symmetrical entrance elevation to S with centre door and pilastered jambs below armorial panel (see Notes), unusually styled bipartite window above giving way to nepus gable with small roundheaded window and stack, now ball finialled. Kitchen wing projecting at SW.

12-pane glazing pattern in timber sash and case windows, except bipartite with 8-pane glazing pattern. Graded grey slates. Coped ashlar stacks with polygonal cans. Ashlar-coped skews.

INTERIOR: fine decorative scheme in place incorporating 6-panelled architraved doors, timber shutters, dado rails and dog-leg staircase with timber balusters. Imported timber fire surround with cast iron grate to main house. Monumental voussoired semicircular fireplace arch with 2 salt boxes to kitchen.

Statement of Interest

A rare survival in the heart of Bellabeg Village, Bellabeg House is an outstanding early laird's house displaying fine proportions and simplicity of design enhanced by a shaped central gable. The kitchen wing, formerly an independent dwelling, is almost certainly earlier and boasts a fireplace opening seen in just a handful of other dwellings in the area. Stonemason, Alastair Urquhart, has identified the Bellabeg example as probably by the same hand as the semicircular fireplace opening at Glenbuchat Castle. These oversized 'ingle' type fireplace arches are a feature of early dwellings in the area, and comparative examples were found during the 2005 resurvey at Skellater Cottage, Mains of Glencarvie and West Tornahaish in Strathdon Parish, and Badenyon Begg's House and Dulax in Glenbuchat Parish. There is a further striking example, with well cut voussoirs, at an1822 farmhouse in Glenfenzie. Fenton & Walker note that the 'scale [is] more suitable for the great hall of a tower house or castle'. The rooms at Bellabeg are smaller than may be expected; this is thought to be due to a lack of good quality large timbers at the time of building.

Bellabeg, along with Auchernach, Invererenan, Skellater, Candacraig and Newe Castle were all at some time properties of the Forbes clan. Inverernan House was reworked as a near copy of Bellabeg in 1935. The current (2006) owner is only the fourth, and except for a brief period during WWI when Bellabeg served as a hospital for Belgian soldiers, it has always been used as a home. The chevron patterned timber fences facing the main road at the northern boundary are believed to have been erected by Belgian soldiers. The Statistical Account mentions the existence of several fir plantations, and continues 'The late Mr Forbes of Bellabeg was the first in this part of the country who began to plant. His improvements, considering the smallness of his property, are worthy of notice. He possessed only one farm ... and a mill. ... He built a commodious mansion-house and offices'. The account continues with a list of his successful farming improvements. John Forbes, born here in 1707, married Christian Shepherd in 1737. The armorial panel over the front door bears their initials and the motto 'NON TEMERE' (Be Not Afraid). Their son (also John) established a mercantile house in Bombay and restored the family fortune, buying back ancestral estates including Newe from James Forbes of Seaton. John was a great philanthropist, he donated large sums of money to good causes including the Aberdeen Asylum and Infirmary.

Changed from Category B to A in 2006.

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