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Latitude: 56.1311 / 56°7'52"N
Longitude: -5.038 / 5°2'16"W
OS Eastings: 211295
OS Northings: 697314
OS Grid: NS112973
Mapcode National: GBR 01.KN66
Mapcode Global: WH1K8.L554
Entry Name: Glenshellish House and Farm
Listing Date: 20 July 1971
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 354273
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB19858
Building Class: Cultural
County: Argyll and Bute
Electoral Ward: Cowal
Traditional County: Argyllshire
Loch Lomond And Trossachs National Park Planning Authority
Glenshellish, a classical, symmetrical farmhouse of c1826 with a U-plan courtyard to the rear enclosed by curving wing ranges, is a rare and unusual building. Few houses of this size and date show such formality, especially when unconnected to a larger estate. Glenshellish, which is situated prominently on the side of Glenbranter, is recognised for its rarity, for its architectural character, being largely intact, and also for its connection to David Napier, an important figure in the development of communications in the area.
Glenshellish consists of a central 3-bay 2-storey piend-roofed house with ranges to either side. The house has some decoration to the principal (N) façade, with hood-moulds to the chamfered-surround windows and the central door, as well as raised margins and a cavetto eaves cornice. To the centre is a prominent gablet, with a slightly off-centre blind oculus. The rear, courtyard elevation is also 3-bay and symmetrical with a central door, but plain. The side elevations are without openings, dominated by heavy wallhead stacks on shallow corbels. These elevations are, however, dominated by the attached pitch-roofed curved wings which continue to the rear to form the cobbled courtyard.
The wings, almost identical on the outside elevations, contain a series of windows and single doors; some blocked, some as vents, some blind. The openings towards the front are hoodmoulded, with chamfered surrounds. Each wing terminates in a flat gable. There are polygonal stone stacks to the gable end of the E wing and towards the front of the W wing. The courtyard elevations vary more, with a segmental cart-arch in the E wing. A break in the masonry suggests that the wings were initially shorter, although they were lengthened by the time of the 1st edition OS map (c1863). Also at that time a separate block closed the courtyard on the S side. This was later replaced with the present 20th century corrugated structure, which abuts the S gable of the E wing.
For much of the 20th century the farm was the property of the Forestry Commission. During this time, work was carried out to the interior of the house, an octagonal stack was removed from the central gablet, the skews and stack removed from the end of the W wing and the main stacks rebuilt in brick. Work to convert the farm for dairying also involved some alterations to the interiors of the wings, although the majority of the roof structure remains.
Interior: the interior of the house retains its original layout, as well as shutters, 4-panel doors, simple plaster cornices and the stone main stair and timber stair to the attic.
Materials: painted rubble, painted sandstone ashlar dressings. Predominantly uPVC windows, some timber top-hoppers to wings. Slate piended roofs; stone skew to W wing, stone and brick wallhead and polygonal stacks. Clay cans. Cast iron rainwater goods. Cobbled yard.
Glenshellish was built c1826 by David Napier (1790-1869) the celebrated marine engineer and a pioneer of deep-sea steam navigation as his summer resort (Maclehose, 1912, 113). Subsequently, he purchased a large stretch of land along the Holy Loch and Loch Long shore from General Campbell of Monzie and built an hotel, a pier and a number of villas. Napier ran daily steamers from Kilmun to Glagow and onward to Loch Fyne and Inveraray, connecting with a small steamer on Loch Eck by way of a new road on which ran a steam carriage. The steamer on Loch Eck, the Aglaia, was the first iron steam passenger ship in the world. It is likely that the stables/outbuildings at Glenshellish were used to house the horses used to convey passengers from the head of Loch Eck to Strachur pier. Napier is known to have sold off most of his Scottish interests c1837 ( Walker, 1992, 359).
A 'handsomer and more interesting stronghold' existed previously at Glenshellish, but was pulled down by Napier to build his 'smaller, common house' ( Morton, 1983).
Napier, or his architect surely derived some inspiration from Robert Mylne's Maam Steading (Inveraray Great Farm), of 1790 in designing the layout of Glenshellish. Maam Steading, originally conceived as a full circular plan, has a Gothic central 3-bay 2-stage barn, with quadrants extending to the rear around a courtyard (RCAHMS, 1992, 474).
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