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Melgum Lodge

A Category B Listed Building in Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.1361 / 57°8'9"N

Longitude: -2.879 / 2°52'44"W

OS Eastings: 346895

OS Northings: 805360

OS Grid: NJ468053

Mapcode National: GBR WM.4JB6

Mapcode Global: WH7N2.RW7S

Plus Code: 9C9V44PC+CC

Entry Name: Melgum Lodge

Listing Name: Melgum Lodge, Tarland, near Aboyne

Listing Date: 24 September 2003

Last Amended: 22 March 2019

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 397041

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49499

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Logie-Coldstone

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Parish: Logie-Coldstone

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Melgum Lodge was designed by George Bennett Mitchell around 1900. It is a large three-bay, two-storey and attic, half-timbered and multi-gabled L-plan former shooting lodge in the style of an Arts and Crafts alpine chalet. It is constructed in rendered granite and has an overhanging, half-timbered upper storey supported on shaped timber brackets. The window openings are predominantly bipartite or tripartite with timber mullions, and the taller windows also have timber transoms. There are small attic windows in the apex of the gables on the north and south elevations. The gables have moulded timber bargeboards. The house sits within Knockie Wood, surrounded by formerly landscaped grounds, to the northwest of the village of Tarland in Aberdeenshire.

The entrance (west) elevation is roughly three bays wide with a broad, shallow gable breaking the roof eaves at the centre. The entrance is recessed with a timber door with a leaded central light, fanlight and sidelights. There is a stone canopy above the door supported on decorative metal brackets. To the left of the entrance is a four-light, pink granite, bay window with square-pane leaded glass and granite mullions.

The north elevation comprises a two-storey and attic gabled section to the right and a single-storey and attic range abutting to the left. The gabled section to the right has a shallow ground floor bay window with granite margins and an eight-light square window at the first floor. The lower range to the left has a small central gablet breaking the roof eaves.

The south elevation has a two-storey and attic gabled section to the left and a two-storey range, set back and to the right. There is a veranda with rustic tree trunk columns. Under this veranda are two, timber bay windows with a granite base course. These flank an entrance door. Both windows have lattice-glazed top panes and plate glass below. The east facing return elevation has a central gablet breaking the roof eaves.

The windows are predominantly plate glass in sash and case frames of varying sizes. The house has shallow pitched gabled roofs with clay roof tiles. Below the overhanging eaves are painted timber rafter ends. There are coped, ashlar chimney stacks on the ridge. There are a mixture of cast iron and uPVC rainwater goods, some with iron plate brackets.

The interior was not seen (2018).

Statement of Interest

Built in 1900, Melgum Lodge is an architecturally distinctive and largely unaltered shooting lodge. It is illustrative of the popularity of hunting and shooting for sport in Scotland at the turn of the 20th century, and on Royal Deeside in particular. The building retains its irregular layout and characteristic Arts and Crafts alpine chalet style detailing, including half-timbering, broad and shallow gables and stone bay windows. The architect, George Bennet Mitchell was regarded for his work in the Arts and Crafts style and for his development of estate architecture in the North East of Scotland. The shooting lodge has architectural features which are characteristic of Aberdeenshire such as use of granite and the building type within the context of this region.

Age and Rarity

The lands of Melgum operated as an estate from around the mid-19th century (Morning Post, 15th August 1868). The estate had a number of tenanted farms around the perimeter of Knockie Wood, including Brankholm and Woodside Crofts. By 1868 the estate was owned by an Aberdeen advocate, John Duguid Milne and was described as having a good farmhouse with offices, yard and a gardener attached (Ordnance Survey Name Book OS1/1/56/72). In 1889 the estate passed to his son, John Adam Milne of Ardmiddle and Melgum.

Melgum Lodge was built in 1900 (Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 27th December 1918). It is shown on the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed in 1900) surrounded by tracks, a cleared area south of the house and a fountain.

The house was built as a shooting lodge to develop the site into a sporting estate. A gardener's cottage was added around 1901 to the northeast of Melgum Lodge (The Building News and Engineering Journal) to service the house. By 1912, Melgum Lodge was an established sporting, agricultural and residential estate (Aberdeen Press and Journal, 21 September 1912).

By the 1930s the Melgum Lodge estate was managed separately to the wider Melgum estate by the MacRobert family, and by 1950 Melgum Lodge was the property of Mr and Mrs J A Ross (3rd Statistical Account, p.414). The house was put on sale, along with the gardener's cottage and policies, in 1950 (Aberdeen Press and Journal, 24th May 1950). The house remains in residential use (2018).

Shooting lodges became increasingly fashionable in the Highlands from the mid-19th century onwards. The popularity of shooting holidays, the copying of Queen Victoria's love of the Highlands at Balmoral, and the arrival of the railway saw an increase in tourism to this area. It reached its peak at the end of the 19th century, when there were between 130 and 150 sporting estates in the Highlands covering about 2.5 million acres of land. These were rented out to a mixture of aristocrats and to the wealthy upper and middle-classes (Higgins et al., p.35). Royal Deeside in particular became renowned for its sporting estates. There are around ten purpose-built shooting lodges that are currently listed in Aberdeenshire.

The close proximity of Melgum Lodge to Royal Deeside is important because this part of Aberdeenshire became a highly desirable place to build fishing, hunting and shooting lodges from around the 1830s. Former sporting estates in the local area include Alastrean House (formerly the House of Cromar) built around 1902-4 (listed at category B, LB49157), the Cambus O'May Hotel built in 1874 (listed at category C, LB50730) and Tullich Lodge built in 1897 (listed at category B, LB9322). Mar Lodge is perhaps the best known example of this building type (listed at category B, LB48775) and was built between 1895 and 1898. The last quarter of the 19th century saw a proliferation of this building type. Melgum Lodge is illustrative of the popularity of hunting and shooting for sport in Scotland at the turn of the 20th century, and on Royal Deeside in particular.

Buildings put up between 1840 and 1945 which are of special architectural or historic interest and of definite character either individually or as part of a group may be listed. Melgum Lodge is a largely unaltered example of its building type built at the height of the period when shooting lodges were being built in the Highlands and the North East of Scotland. Its architectural style is unusual in its attempt to characterise an alpine chalet and its location in the context of Royal Deeside is significant to its function and our understanding of its social historical interest.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interior was not seen in 2018 and has not been taken into account in this assessment.

Plan form

The L-plan footprint of the building is largely unchanged from that shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map (revised 1900) which indicates integrity in the building's original construction and layout. The plan is unusually elongated and narrow and was likely used to maximise the south facing elevation overlooking the landscaped grounds.

Its informal plan form is characteristic of many Arts and Crafts style houses of the period and indicates the internal arrangements of rooms. The public rooms and the bedrooms in the two-storey and attic gabled section to the west and the service accommodation in the lower wing to the right.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

Melgum Lodge is a distinctive shooting lodge in the Arts and Crafts style. This style spanned a period of around 50 years and reached its height around the turn of the 20th century. It employed a romanticised interpretation of rural living and embraced architecture as a way to revive craftsmanship using locally-sourced materials and traditional construction methods. The Arts and Crafts movement celebrated traditional craftsmanship, simple forms and promoted an anti-industrial approach to design and manufacturing. This was largely in reaction to the increased materialism and mass-production of the late 19th century.

The Arts and Crafts style was popular for domestic architecture, particularly villas in urban areas or larger detached houses on small estates. A handful of examples exist in the Deeside area. Woodcote (listed at category C, LB49866) and The Firs (listed at category C, LB49865) in Torphins and Ladywood Lodge (listed at category C, LB47063) in Aboyne are striking examples of urban Arts and Crafts domestic architecture dating to the 1890s. Auchintoul (built 1894) and Cean-na-Coill (built 1914), in Aboyne, are Arts and Crafts style villas also designed by George Bennett Mitchell.

Melgum Lodge has distinctive Arts and Crafts 'chalet style' details such as an overhanging, half-timbered upper storey supported on timber brackets, and an irregular roofline with broad low eaves and gablets breaking the eaves. These features combined with the use of Aberdeenshire granite reflect the Arts and Crafts ethos of using locally sourced materials. The use of granite here makes Melgum Lodge a distinctly Aberdeenshire Arts and Crafts building.

A historic postcard (from around 1920) shows there have been slight alterations to the window openings. These include the replacement of a ground floor plate glass window (west elevation) with a large granite-mullioned bay window, and alterations to the veranda roof and main entrance canopy (View of Melgum Lodge, H84065 PO). Repairs such as the replacement of the roof tiles and rafter ends, have been carried out using similar materials and, as such, are in-keeping with the original design and material quality of the building. Overall, the exterior of the building survives largely unaltered since the 1920s.

The Dictionary of Scottish Architects states that Melgum Lodge was likely to have been designed by the Aberdeen-based architect, George Bennett Mitchell (1865-1941) in 1900. Mitchell is known to have been working on the estate at this time because he designed other ancillary buildings on the estate, such as the Keeper's House and Kennels (The Building News and Engineering Journal, p.91).

Following his apprenticeship, Mitchell was appointed architect in the surveyor's department of Davidson and Garden, advocates in Aberdeen. This office specialised in country house work on the Dunecht estate and across the Deeside region. A large proportion of Mitchell's work continued on country estates and he designed at least one other shooting lodge, Glenfarquhar Lodge near Auchenblae (unlisted, built in 1898-9), in an Arts and Crafts style.

Mitchell also used this distinctive Arts and Crafts 'chalet style' for villas including Auchintoul (built 1894) and Cean-na-Coill (built 1914) in Aboyne. Melgum Lodge was designed around the mid-point of his career and is a striking Arts and Crafts style shooting lodge which complements the urban villas he designed. It illustrates a distinctly Aberdeenshire Arts and Crafts style applied to the architecture of a shooting lodge.


Located to the northwest of the village of Tarland on Royal Deeside, Melgum Lodge sits within Knockie Wood and between the Tarland Burn and the Burn of Glaaick. It stands as the main house of the Melgum estate with tracks leading to Melgum Lodge from the main road through rhododendron-landscaped woodland.

The immediate setting of the house has not changed significantly since its construction in 1900 and from that shown on the 2nd and later Edition Ordnance Survey maps. Melgum Lodge still has the appearance and setting of a shooting lodge as it retains its secluded setting and is not visible from the main road.

Regional variations

Royal Deeside became one of the most fashionable holidaying areas of Scotland for the wealthy from the mid-19th century onwards, reaching its height at the turn of the 20th century. The shooting lodge building type is typical of this area of Scotland.

The use of granite is particular to this area of Scotland. As the dominant building material, a large number of buildings in Aberdeen City and Shire are built in this local stone.

The rustic tree trunk columns supporting the veranda are distinctive features of rural buildings, particularly estate architecture, in North East Scotland. Examples can be seen locally on the Balmoral estate at the curling pavilion, and it was a feature used by George Bennett Mitchell on other domestic buildings including Tigh-na-Geald and Ladywood Lodge in Aboyne.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2018).

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2019. Previously listed as 'Tigh Geal'.

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