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Kelburn Country Centre (former stables and home farm) including cottages to south block and excluding additions to north block and buildings to east of courtyard, Kelburn Castle Estate, Fairlie

A Category B Listed Building in Largs, North Ayrshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.7694 / 55°46'9"N

Longitude: -4.845 / 4°50'42"W

OS Eastings: 221625

OS Northings: 656560

OS Grid: NS216565

Mapcode National: GBR 31.9HMK

Mapcode Global: WH2N7.K71Y

Entry Name: Kelburn Country Centre (former stables and home farm) including cottages to south block and excluding additions to north block and buildings to east of courtyard, Kelburn Castle Estate, Fairlie

Listing Date: 29 August 1985

Last Amended: 17 November 2016

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406527

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB7296

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Largs

County: North Ayrshire

Electoral Ward: North Coast and Cumbraes

Parish: Largs

Traditional County: Ayrshire

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Description

Around 1760, single-storey former home farm complex located on the south approach drive to the southwest of Kelburn Castle. Comprising principally of three blocks in a U-plan arrangement with principal elevation to west. Formerly including steading, stables, dairy, byre and offices. Remodelled 1979-80 to form the visitor centre for Kelburn Castle Estate.

The symmetrical west elevation has a 5-bay block to centre flanked by single-bay ends of the north and south blocks. All three blocks have channelled ashlar piers with ball finials at their corner angles, arched openings with keystones, raised margins and piended roofs. The rear (east) elevation of the central block has a forestair and pedimented loft door. The courtyard-facing elevations are mostly harled with the north and south ranges sloping up the site, with irregularly arranged openings and mostly small-paned glazing to timber framed windows facing the courtyard to centre. The piended roof cottage addition to the east of the south block was added circa 1880. The roofs are grey slate.

The interiors, partly seen in 2016, have been largely remodelled as part of the conversion to the Kelburn Castle visitor centre. Some internal fixtures and fittings survive within the outer ranges.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: additions to north block and buildings to east of courtyard.

Statement of Interest

The Kelburn Castle former home farm is a good surviving example of farm buildings developed during the early phase of agricultural improvement. The unified classical form of the building range survives largely intact, with the channelled ashlar pilaster quoins and large ball finials at the corner angles adding to its architectural interest. The building is also of interest in the context of mid-18th century Improvement farming and the contemporary redevelopment of large country estates and is a good surviving example of an 18th century model farm.

The former home farm stable offices at Kelburn Castle are a key component of the mid-18th century development of the Kelburn Castle policies. They are prominently located on the route of the principal south approach drive to Kelburn Castle which was established in the later 18th or early 19th century.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: additions to north block and buildings to east of courtyard.

Age and Rarity

The home farm range at Kelburn is depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map, surveyed in 1856, occupying largely the same detached U-plan three block arrangement as at present. This plan form is typical of estate stable offices or small scale home farm complexes based on the model farms of the early Improvement era of farming after 1740.

The mid-18th century saw the beginning of widespread changes in farming methods and animal husbandry, leading to new approaches in the layout of farm buildings on an ordered plan. The planning of farm buildings was, like virtually every other major building type of the period, influenced by the desire for classification and order stimulated by the Enlightenment . (Glendinning, p.24). Some of the grandest model farm buildings put up during the early phase of drive towards improvement are found in the improving estates of Scotland, such as the Great Barn complex of circa 1750 at Inveraray Castle, Argyll (LB11535) and the Culzean Castle Home Farm of 1775 (LB51829). Regardless of estate size, the drive towards agricultural improvement led to wholesale change in the design of stable blocks and home farms, for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Economist Adam Smith, writing in 1759, did not generally regard owners of larger country estates to be great improvers, noting somewhat dismissively that many large estate landowners were cultivating small areas around their country seats and attending more to ornament than to profit (Glendinning, p.22) meaning that much of their interest was focused on architectural design.

The circa 1760 home farm at Kelburn is a relatively modest example in terms of scale, built by an unknown architect in a simplified classical style with a symmetrical pavilion-flanked U-plan layout with pyramidal roofs emphasising a uniform sense of architectural order, built for practical use while at the same time showing the intentions of a modernising landowner. The flanking ranges contained stabling, a coach house, a diary and possibly a laundry and servants accommodation, arranged around a central courtyard area. The principle west-facing elevation with channelled corner piers and ball finials was expressly designed to complement the setting of the castle recently extended in the early 18th century, and for example, the channelled corner pilasters with ball finials are in keeping with the style of the gatepiers elsewhere on the Kelburn estate.

Kelburn is among the oldest ancestral country seats in Scotland to have been continuously inhabited by successive generations of one family, having been in possession of the Boyle family (formerly de Boyville ) since the 12th century. Kelburn has a prominent coastal setting to the south of the town of Largs, with views from the castle across the Firth of Clyde to the Isles of Cumbrae and Bute and southwest to the Isle of Arran. The Kel Burn runs through the estate, passing through a wooded ravine and over a 15 metre high waterfall to the southwest of the castle.

Kelburn Castle, like Stair House in Ayrshire (LB14372) and Blair Castle in Perthshire (LB6074) is a multi-period building which demonstrates the transition from the medieval tower house tradition towards the new fashion during the Renaissance period for domestic, non-fortified buildings. The designs for these new buildings were classically inspired and often included a formal suite of rooms or apartments.

The castle is the focal point within the Kelburn estate policies. The principal phases of addition are distinctly identifiable and the successive additions dating from the early Scottish Renaissance to the present day represent changing political and cultural values as well demonstrating a significant transition in Scottish domestic architecture at this time. Associated ancillary estate buildings and structures, including home farm offices, sundials, monuments, lodges, bridges and worker s cottages (some of which are listed separately) contribute to our understanding of this historically significant ancestral seat.

Architectural or Historic Interest

Interior

Some internal fixtures and fittings associated with the former use and a stable and home farm survive. However the interiors have been largely remodelled as part of the conversion to the Kelburn Castle Country Centre and are not of interest in listing terms.

Plan form

The U-plan arrangement of three detached blocks is a typical arrangement for home farms of this period. The plan form has been altered with later additions to the east but the 18th century core remains visible.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

Located on the main south approach drive to the castle, the classically detailed former home farm U-plan range was designed to impress as well as being practical. The building has a symmetrical arrangement, typical of the classical design ideals of the period, with flanking pavilions and whinstone frontage with round–arched windows, keystones and slightly swept, piended roofs. The form of the piers is consistent with the style of the gatepiers to the north of the Castle courtyard and the south entrance gatepiers (see separate listings LB7294 and LB7302) and add to the interest of the former home farm range.

Setting

The home farm range continues to occupy a prominent location within the Kelburn Castle policies on the principal south approach drive to the castle.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

None known at present. Kelburn is among the oldest country seats in Scotland to have been continuously inhabited by successive generations of one family, the Boyles.

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016. Previously listed as Kelburn Former Stables and Cottages (Visitor Centre) .

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