History in Structure

Belmont House, Unst

A Category A Listed Building in North Isles, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.6876 / 60°41'15"N

Longitude: -0.9674 / 0°58'2"W

OS Eastings: 456497

OS Northings: 1200935

OS Grid: HP564009

Mapcode National: GBR R0YH.CBT

Mapcode Global: XHF7H.TMTK

Plus Code: 9CGXM2QM+32

Entry Name: Belmont House, Unst

Listing Name: Belmont, Belmont House, Including Quadrant Links, Pavilions, Terrace Walls, Farm Cottage and Steading, Boundary Walls, and Booth

Listing Date: 13 August 1971

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 351405

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB17474

Building Class: Cultural

Also known as: Unst, Belmont House
Belmont House, Shetland

ID on this website: 200351405

Location: Unst

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Parish: Unst

Traditional County: Shetland

Tagged with: Neoclassical architecture Palladian architecture Country house

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Circa 1777, with early 19th century addition. Palladian laird's house comprising 2-storey and attic over concealed basement, 3-bay principal block with flanking quadrant walls curving forward to enclose terrace to S, and linking to square single storey single bay pavilions. 2-storey, 2-bay addition centred to E side of principal block. Harl-pointed rubble walls with stugged and droved dressings and margins. Eaves cornice, margined windows to original work and framing principal elevation.

S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: symmetrical, margined door surround with superimposed architrave; dentilled cornice over lintel supported by scrolled consoles. Doorpiece circumvented by raggles of former porches and fronted by concrete base of canted glazed timber porch (circa 1900). Regular fenestration in flanking bays; keystones to 1st floor windows including Venetian window in centre bay; round-arched niche with bracketted cill centred above in open pediment.

E ELEVATION: 2-storey 2 x 1-bay addition advanced at centre; narrow windows in left bay of S side with single window at 1st floor in right bay; regular fenestration in single bay E side; lean-to at ground to N side with vertically-boarded timber door and 4-pane timber sash and case windows in right and left bays respectively, narrow window in right bay only at 1st floor.

N (REAR) ELEVATION: near-symmetrical, stair windows to lower and upper landings in centre bay; piend-roofed single storey rendered brick double-doored porch offset to left of centre; regular fenestration in outer bays.

W ELEVATION: 2-bay elevation with windows at 1st floor only.

QUADRANT LINKS: brick coped, harl-pointed and lined rubble walls curving forward from principal block to meet pavilions.

PAVILIONS: mirrored pair of square-plan, single storey, single bay wings flanking terrace to S of principal block. Entrance door to terrace elevations, margined windows to S elevations, small lean-to to rear of W pavilion, large shallow-roofed concrete barn to rear of E pavilion.

Predominantly 12-pane timber sash and case windows, 4-pane to narrow windows of addition. Grey slate roofs, piended to addition and pyramidal to pavilions. Ashlar skew-copes to principal block; rubble gablehead stacks, margined at corners, and corniced with circular cans. Harl-pointed rubble shouldered wallhead stacks centring rear elevations with stone copes and circular cans.

INTERIOR: partially ruinous (1997) but with most fixtures and fitting surviving. Glazed and panelled inner entrance door accessing ground floor with 4-panel timber doors and plain bold plaster cornices. Presses to walls of entrance vestibule interlocking with those in dining room to W, and kitchen to E. Stone range recess to E wall of kitchen. Panelled walls to dining room with dado rail, and oak-grained architraves and fielded-panel doors; black slate chimneypiece with Art Nouveau cast-iron insert to W wall. Semicircular arch with keystone leading from vestibule to stairhall. Timber stair with turned spindles rising in apsidal recess to 1st and 2nd floors, handrail terminated at ground floor around floral boss over fluted timber newel. 2-leaf flush-beaded and panelled timber rear door (now within porch) with glazed uppers. Full-depth drawing room to W side at 1st floor; 6-panel fielded timber door with bold egg and dart architrave centred in E wall; fielded panels to dado and window aprons. Classical timber chimneypiece to W wall comprising egg and dart surround to stone fireplace flanked by fluted pilasters rising to swagged frieze and corniced shelf above. Dentilled plaster cornice to coved ceiling with foliate circular rose at centre. Writing room centred to S at 1st floor (behind Venetian window); timber shelves to N wall, panelled door with geometric glazing to centre. Plain cornice and black slate chimneypiece with cast-iron insert to NE room. Vertically-boarded timber wainscoting to 1st floor room in E addition. 2-panel timber doors to upper landing; wooden peg rail to timber S wall. Vertically-boarded timber lining to E pavilion, timber chimneypiece with cast-iron insert to W wall, steep enclosed attic ladder to left of entrance door.

TERRACE WALLS AND GATEPIERS: pavilions linked by low harl-pointed and lined rubble wall with slabbed cope oriented E-W, and stepping up at centre to ashlar gatepiers with V-jointed rustication to square shafts and corniced caps (finials now missing 1997).

GARDEN AND BOUNDARY WALLS, GATEWAYS AND GATEPIERS: formal arrangement of rubble-walled enclosures to S of house. Square enclosure centred to S of terrace with ball-finialled square stugged gatepiers centring low slab-coped S wall, stugged ashlar gateways centring E and W walls accessing further enclosures, that to W with semicircular niche at centre of W wall. Avenue leading S to shore (aligned to centre of house); intermediate gateway comprising square rubble piers with ashlar pyramidal caps; avenue terminated to S by matching gatepiers flanked by quadrants connecting to S boundary wall.

FARM COTTAGE AND STEADING: symmetrical U-plan arrangement aligned to N of house comprising single storey and attic farmhouse flanked by single storey and single storey and attic barns. Harled L-plan farmhouse with symmetrical S elevation comprising gabled porch at centre with vertically-boarded and glazed timber door; 4-pane timber sash and case windows in flanking bays and to gabled timber dormers breaking eaves in outer bays. Lean-to wing to W, dormered wing to rear, harled and coped walls to S, curving forward to enclose frontage with gatepiers at centre. Purple-grey slate roofs, rubble gablehead stacks, coped with circular cans. Harled single storey ranges flanking, stepping up to S to single storey and attic ranges with bothy to upper floor at E, and hay loft with dormered loading door at upper floor to W. Rough rubble wall with pyramidal-capped gatepiers centred to S on farmyard and Belmont House.

TRADING BOOTH: single storey 3-bay symmetrical rubble booth (now roofless), integral with S boundary wall. Entrance door centred in N wall with ventilators in flanking bays (that at left enlarged); ventilators in S elevation, and small square window in E gablehead.

Statement of Interest

Belmont was built for Thomas Mouat, son of the Laird of the Garth estate. He had toured the Lothians to aquaint himself with contemporary architecture, and after completion, the house remained as the family home until the mid 20th century. The formal arrangement of the house sited on axis with the farm to the north and the seafront gates to the south, is a reminder of the designer's combination of classical design ideals with practicality resulting from the dependence of the house on the sea and land for transport and income. As well as being the most ambitious house in the north isles, Belmont is Shetland's least altered classical mansion, its interior being a particularly remarkable survival.

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