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Roman Court, 17 Boclair Road, Bearsden

A Category C Listed Building in Bearsden South, East Dunbartonshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9201 / 55°55'12"N

Longitude: -4.3158 / 4°18'56"W

OS Eastings: 255377

OS Northings: 672092

OS Grid: NS553720

Mapcode National: GBR 3P.0405

Mapcode Global: WH3NV.PG1F

Plus Code: 9C7QWMCM+2M

Entry Name: Roman Court, 17 Boclair Road, Bearsden

Listing Name: Roman Court including gatepiers and excluding conservatory to west, detached outbuildings to east and garage to north, 17 Boclair Road, Bearsden

Listing Date: 30 January 2018

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406930

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52462

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Bearsden

County: East Dunbartonshire

Town: Bearsden

Electoral Ward: Bearsden South

Traditional County: Dunbartonshire

Description

Roman Court, 17 Boclair Road is a 2-storey and attic, 3-bay, rectangular-plan detached house in the 'Edwardian Free' style, influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, and built in 1912 by Glasgow architect, Alan G MacNaughtan. The house is located within a villa suburb established in the early 20th century. It is built of red brick, rendered and painted white at first floor level.

Only the principal elevation was seen and the description here is based on photographs in the sales particulars published in 2017 by Rettie and Co. The principal elevation has a symmetrical aspect with two A-frame gable cross wings, each with deep-set low roofs and over-hanging eaves. The outer slopes are swept down to ground floor level. To the centre is a recessed, round-arch porch of pale stone with a central key-stone. The house is dated '1912' in embossed Roman numerals above a timber front door with carved motifs.

Tall rendered chimney stacks with mullioned brick copes project through the slope of the roof to the east and west elevations. There are two further tall stacks, similarly detailed, to the rear (south) elevation. Projecting brickwork indicates the position of the chimneys on the ground floor. A row of dormer windows break the eaves to the east elevation. There is a single-storey outshot with piended roof to the rear.

The windows are predominantly metal casement with a multi-pane glazing pattern. The roof is of smooth red rosemary tile. The rainwater goods are a mix of cast iron with some uPVC replacement.

The interior appears to have a high quality bespoke timber decorative scheme, influenced by Arts and Crafts design principles. The woodwork is likely to be contemporary with the date of construction and largely complete. A variety of geometric and organic carved motifs are used throughout on doors, staircase, fixed bench seating and fireplaces. The main hall has a keystone-arched fireplace with recessed shelving, timber panelled doors and panelled walls, recessed seating and carved door-pieces. The main staircase is L-plan with square-plan, full-height newel posts with woodcut capital detailing and full-height timber panelling. Metal frame windows have bespoke fitted handle designs. The sitting room and dining room have inglenook fireplaces with fixed timber seating and with leaded, coloured glass windows with figurative scenes in the rear recesses. Other timber fixtures include ornamental fireplaces with shelving, cabinetry and curved recesses, fretwork ceiling decoration, moulded architraves, wainscoting and polished wooden floors. The beamed ceiling effect may be a later decorative addition. The main bedrooms have semi-vaulted ceilings. The third bedroom has a timber panelled alcove.

There is a curved pedestrian entrance of red brick to the roadside in front of the house.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: conservatory to west, detached outbuildings to east and garage to north.

Statement of Interest

No 17 Boclair Road, Bearsden is a notable example of an Arts and Crafts style 'artistic' house in Scotland, built to a high specification with quality materials and attention to detail and craftsmanship throughout. The carved timber fixtures and fittings to the principle interior spaces are particularly noteworthy, and while some changes have been made to the interior scheme, the exterior and the interior of the building largely retains its early 20th century Arts and Crafts character.

The exterior and plan form of the house references the Voysean style of Arts and Crafts architecture which is relatively uncommon in Scotland. The metal-framed windows, tall symmetrical chimney stacks, low hanging eaves and recessed round-arch porch are features typical of this style and these add to the special interest of the building within the context of early 20th century housing of this type.

Age and Rarity

Built in 1912, Roman Court is a detached private house in the Arts and Crafts style, situated on Boclair Road on the east side of Bearsden. The course of the Antonine Wall (built in 149-152AD during Roman occupation) runs along the rear boundary of the property which accounts for its name.

The 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map, surveyed in 1898, shows that only four houses had been built on Boclair Road by that date. Roman Court is first shown on the 2nd Edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey map, revised in 1914. Little is currently known about the early history of the house, although it is understood to have been completed for a builder named Dickie (The Scotsman, 27 July 2017).

The suburban development of towns and cities increased during the early 20th century, especially as transport links to outlying areas improved, catering to the growing middle classes. While large houses and villas in this context are not rare, examples of the early 20th century, which are architecturally distinctive and reflect high quality workmanship, may be of interest for listing.

Roman Court is an example of the handcrafted approach to complete exterior and interior design that became fashionable in the United Kingdom by the start of the 20th century, following on from the ideals first promoted most famously by William Morris in the previous century. The Arts and Crafts Movement flourished in large urban centres such as London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Edinburgh, which had the infrastructure and patronage that allowed the movement to gather pace.

In England, architects like Charles Voysey, M H Baillie Scott and C H Ashbee, took the principle ideas of the Arts and Crafts movement and adapted them into a commercially viable 'Free Edwardian' style of bespoke domestic architecture sometimes referred to as the 'artistic' or the 'ideal' house. In the years around the turn of the 20th century until the First World War houses of this type would freely use vernacular motifs to artistic effect (see A. Service). A number of talented and like-minded Scottish architects including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, John James Burnet, William Leiper and Sir Robert Lorimer also adapted the ideas of the Arts and Crafts movement, using Scots Renaissance and Baronial architectural elements and motifs such as turrets, ogee roofs and crowstepped gables to great effect in a number of exceptional houses for wealthy clients.

The houses of these like-minded architects around the turn of the 20th century all emphasise tradition, craftsmanship and close attention to every aspect of the design, both inside and out. Voysey's approach in particular was broadly characterised by big forward-facing gabled roofs, wide doorways, low walls and tall chimneys. These motifs became a popular template for domestic architecture in England during the early 20th century, with renowned commentator John Betjeman famously referring to The Orchard (Voysey's house for himself of 1899) as 'the parent of thousands of simple English houses' (Metro-land, 1973).

Roman Court, by Glasgow architect Alan MacNaughtan, is an early and authentic example of an 'artistic house' of the 'Free Edwardian' school (see A. Service), influenced by Arts and Crafts ideals. It is relatively unusual in Scotland in that's its exterior design references the individualism of English architect Charles Voysey. It is built to a high specification with quality materials and a careful attention to craftsmanship used throughout the exterior and the interior. While some refitting has been carried out, primarily to the kitchen and bathrooms, the building largely retains its early 20th century room layout and its timber fixtures and fittings. The bespoke timber decorative scheme reflects the sort of work being produced by Glasgow designers and architects of the period such as Earnest Archibald Taylor and John Ednie.

The detached garage to the rear (north) first appears on the 3rd Edition, revised in 1935. The garage appears to now occupy a larger footprint than it did in 1935 and is not of special architectural significance in its own right. This building and the detached outbuildings and greenhouse to the east of the house are excluded from the listing. The timber and glass lean-to conservatory to the west elevation of the house was added in 2006 and is also excluded from the listing.

Architectural or Historic Interest

Interior

Photographs in the 2017 sales particulars published by Rettie and Co show that the interior scheme at Roman Court is a good example of the handcrafted approach to complete interior design that became fashionable by the start of the 20th century.

The timber fixtures including the main staircase, inglenook fireplaces, doors, door frames and panelled recesses are of a high standard, built with a close attention to detail using decorative carved motifs. These elements are directly influenced by the philosophy of the 'artistic' house, drawing on the houses by exponents such as Charles Voysey, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Charles Ashbee.

The kitchen and bathrooms have been largely refitted to modern standards in recent years but these changes do not detract significantly from the early 20th century character of the interior.

Plan form

The plan form is broadly rectangular and is typical of a mid-scale suburban property of its period. The roof plan-form is inventive, with the two gabled cross wings returning to a slightly raised, hipped arrangement to the rear, creating an enclosed central valley.

Inside, the room plan reflects the style of the period with all rooms directly accessible from the large central hall at both floor levels. The use of this plan form is indicative of the honest approach to functionality that was a central value of Arts and Crafts style architecture.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The design and construction of Roman Court takes inspiration from the ideas of the Arts and Crafts Movement, with elaborately carved timberwork fixtures, metalwork and stained glass. Arts and Crafts design principles have been applied, both externally and internally, to a high standard using quality materials and attention to detail.

Stylistically, the external profile and plan form of Roman Court is influenced by The Orchard in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire by celebrated English Arts and Crafts architect Charles Voysey (1857-1941) for himself in 1899. Voysey believed, like many of his architectural contemporaries, that good architecture had its root in authentic, quality craftsmanship and well-made objects, and that all houses should provide evidence of security, economy of upkeep, and be in harmony with their surroundings.

The architect of Roman Court, Alan MacNaughtan (1875-1953), was the son of respected Glasgow architect Duncan McNaughtan, known for the Town Hall and Baltic Chambers in Maryhill, and the Dumbarton County Buildings. Alan was articled to John James Burnet, Son & Campbell from 1895, remaining with J J Burnet after the break-up of that partnership until 1901, working largely on villas. He joined his father's practice in 1904, becoming a partner in 1907. He also joined the Glasgow Institute of Architects in that same year. He chose to sign himself 'Mac' after his father's death in February 1912, the same year that he designed Roman Court. Other listed work by MacNaughtan includes (with his father) the former St Rollox School, Royston Road, Glasgow of 1906 (LB32829), the Arts and Crafts influenced villa Cuilvona, Helensburgh in 1907 (LB34800) and, in partnership with John Arthur, the Glasgow University Union building at 32 University Avenue (LB32252), completed in 1929.

Setting

The house is set near the centre of its garden grounds within a group of substantial villas of various different styles also built in the early 20th century. No 19 Boclair Road (LB48592) to the rear of Roman Court, and No 18 Boclair Road (LB46094), on the opposite side of the road, are also listed. The immediate setting is predominantly residential which is typical of the wider suburban townscape of Bearsden and which is in keeping with the character of the conservation area.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2017).

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