This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.
We don't have any photos of this building yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?
Latitude: 55.5738 / 55°34'25"N
Longitude: -2.6424 / 2°38'32"W
OS Eastings: 359591
OS Northings: 631310
OS Grid: NT595313
Mapcode National: GBR 93ZZ.QS
Mapcode Global: WH8Y2.C5YD
Entry Name: Braehead House, including attached stables, garage and engine house, garden walls, entrance archway and gates, and boundary walls, excluding stables to southwest and garages and lodge to south, Main S
Listing Date: 4 February 2019
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 407034
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52484
Building Class: Cultural
Location: St Boswells
County: Scottish Borders
Electoral Ward: Jedburgh and District
Parish: St Boswells
Traditional County: Roxburghshire
The principal (east) elevation contains a recessed central bay with a large stone-mullioned window. The projecting north bay has curved corners with a crowstepped parapet. The deeply projecting south bay contains the main entrance, which is accessed via a flight of circular steps and features a recessed two-storey doorpiece, topped by a double corbel course and a projecting garret chamber. The decorative carved surrounds of the doorpiece have a foliated panel above the door, and a pedimented architrave to the first floor window, which has Corinthian columns and a moon and stars to the tympanum.
The south elevation has gabled end bays, with the bay to the west projecting. There is a conical tower to the re-entrant angle with a bell-shaped roof and the base is corbelled out over an arched squinch. The upper floor of the remaining bays projects over a corbelled course. The ground floor windows are largely portholes with fixed lights and circular surrounds. There is an integral sundial in carved stone on the southwest corner.
The west elevation contains an open loggia within a segmental arch. There is a canted bay window with a parapet at the first floor, extending down to ground floor level.
The north elevation has a two-storey carved window surround with decorative pillars and colonnettes (small decorative columns), a laurel leaf to the apron, and a segmental pediment over the dormer. The gabled east bay deeply projects, with rounded corners and a segmental moulding over the dormer with carved berries and foliage.
The window openings largely have flush ashlar rybats and cills in red sandstone, with whinstone voussoirs over. The rybats to the basement windows are rock-faced. The dormer openings have raised ashlar margins with cavetto (concave) mouldings and a pole-moulded surround, extending from the eaves. There are a variety of glazing patterns, largely in early timber sash and case windows. The roofs, which are steeply pitched, have diminishing grey slates courses and stone ridges. There are tall chimneystacks with ashlar rybats, moulded copes and clay cans. Those to the north, south and re-entrant northwest angle are wallheaded stacks, with asymmetrical shoulders.
Braehead House, its ancillary buildings and garden grounds are enclosed by boundary walls of whinstone rubble with dressed sandstone coping and rybats. The entrance to the site as a whole is to the south, from Main Street, through a matching archway with timber and decorative metal gates, and a pedestrian gate to the side. The decorative thistle motif on the gates was a copy of that at Glamis Castle. The terraced garden has a linear red brick wall and a parallel yew tree hedge, with a set of spiral steps to the east end, accessing the upper (north) and lower (south) gardens.
The stables, garage and engine house to the east are linked to the main house via an enclosed service courtyard. Together, these ancillary buildings form a small U-shape plan and form a small courtyard with a pend to the north. The north and east elevations are formed by the boundary walls that enclose the site. The main entrance to the south is flanked by ashlar piers with tall pyramidal caps. The stables and garage to the west are single-storey, while the engine house to the east has an attic with gabled dormers (one of which is a loading door) breaking the eaves. The engine house has a pair of chimneystacks, oversized coiled skew putts and a turret with a conical roof to the northeast corner.
The interior of Braehead House (seen in 2018) retains much of the early 20th century layout with some minor alterations, including the insertion of an additional bathroom and the removal of twoboarding-over of a service stairs between the ground and first floors. Many original features remain such as the skirtings, architraves, fireplaces, doors, shutters, cornices, mouldings, in-built cupboards and shelves, and cast iron radiators. The design is of an early 20th century artistic interior inspired by the Scottish Renaissance period, which was designed by Scott Morton and Co in collaboration with Deas. The principal rooms are located at first floor level and, according to the precepts of an artistic house, the ceiling heights are varied and the design of the window openings, which are also small, are unique to each room. The first floor is accessed from the entrance porch in the southeast corner, via a flight of steps which have a groin-vaulted ceiling. A second stair to the centre of the east wing provides access between the upper floors. This scale-and-platt timber stair has Renaissance-style balusters and a carved timber handrail.
The main hall to the centre of the south wing has timber panelled walls and a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The columned yellow marble fireplace was salvaged from Minto Manse. The drawing room to the west has a deep bay window but a former plaster frieze by J.S. Rhind is no longer in place (2018). The conical tower to the re-entrant angle of the south elevation contains curved passages on each floor, and that to the upper floor has a domed ceiling. An octagonal dining room is located to the north end of the east wing and has a shallow domed ceiling with the ribs outlined in decorative plasterwork of foliage and summer flowers. The adjoining kitchen, which was once the butler's pantry, has been remodelled (information from the owner, 2018). The upper floor, which contains bedrooms and bathrooms, is plainly detailed with simple cornicing, coved ceilings and elegant timber fireplaces with marble trim and decorative cast-iron insets. Early 20th century tiles line the bathroom to the east wing.
Braehead House is an outstanding example of an artistic small country house that was designed by a leading early 20th century architect, Francis W. Deas. The house characterises the contemporary interest in Scottish Renaissance domestic architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries and the theories of the Arts and Crafts movement, which also addresses the contemporary debate of a national style for Scotland. Braehead House and its ancillary structures remain largely unaltered. The interior has a fine Renaissance revival decorative scheme, which was the work of Deas and the noted woodworking company of Scott Morton and Co.
In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the stables to southwest and the garages and lodge to south.
Age and Rarity
Braehead House was designed by Francis W. Deas in 1905-6 for either Seymour Spencer or John Cuthbert Spencer. The Spencers were brothers, whose family had an iron and steel works at Newburn in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The cost of the house was £12,000 and the internal decoration was carried out by Scott Morton and Co., in collaboration with Deas.
John Cuthbert Spencer died in August 1906 before the house was complete and his brother Seymour died soon after in January 1907. It was then purchased by Major Edwin Paton, who commissioned an additional stable block to be built to the southwest (see case reference 300030235). This block of stables does not appear to have been designed by Deas as his signature is not that on the original plans, which are held by the owner. Additionally, the stables were not constructed by the same builders and the style and materials do not match that of the main house or the other ancillary structures.
Braehead House is first shown on the 1921 Ordnance Survey map. This map shows the building set in its own grounds with the adjoining stables, garage and engine house to the east, the lodge and entrance arch to the south and the additional U-plan stables to the southwest. Map evidence indicates that the footprints of Braehead House and these associated buildings have remained largely unchanged since the early 20th century.
The main house remains largely unaltered, with only some fabric changes having been made during the 20th century. These include the boarding-over of some service stairs leading from the ground floor to the first floor, and a reconfiguration of bathrooms on the upper floor. Three rooms in the west end of the ground floor have been converted into a separate flat but the remaining ground floor is largely unaltered and retains original sinks and draining boards in the sculleries. The hall fireplace was salvaged from Minto Manse (built 1827 by W. H. Playfair), following a fire in the 1950s or 1960s.
St. Boswells is a small village and parish in north Roxburghshire, and was previously known as Lessudden. It is a place of some antiquity and was noted in Froome s Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-85) as having 16 bastle houses (a fortified house) in 1544. St Boswells and the nearby parish of Newtown St Boswells are now linked with the combined parish of Maxton & Mertoun.
Braehead House is named after the Brae Heads area in St Boswells, which is the elevated ridge of land between Main Street and the River Tweed on which the house is sited (Ordnance Survey Name book: 1858-60). Prior to the construction of the house, this land was mainly agricultural, except for some earlier large villas to the west, which were dotted along the ridge. The Ordnance Survey map of 1907 suggests that three small dwellings along Main Street were removed around 1905-06, to allow for the construction of the present entrance arch and the lodge building.
The continuing growth of the middle class in Scotland and the relatively buoyant economy from the late 19th century up to the beginning of the First World War led to a boom in the construction of large suburban villas and smaller country houses.
Noted as one of the key examples of a smaller country house/villa in the Scottish Borders, Braehead House is described by Cruft, Dunbar and Fawcett (2006: 62) as incomparable, but eccentric . Braehead House is the work of a significant designer (see below), is carefully composed and remains largely unaltered with much of the original fabric and layout retained. Displaying a high level of detailing and craftsmanship, the building is of special architectural interest as a prime example of an artistic house of the Scottish Traditionalist school, led by Robert Rowand Anderson and Robert Lorimer. There is outstanding carved stone work with a varied and picturesque roofline and an equally impressive internal decorative scheme. The retention of the ancillary structures also adds to the setting and special interest of the building, as they were part of Deas s original composition and match the main house in terms of style and materials.
The detached garages to the south and the additional block of stables to the southwest were constructed after the main house and were not designed by Deas. The buildings are not of interest in listing terms and have been excluded from the listing of Braehead House. The stables were assessed separately (300030235) but were found not to meet the criteria for listing.
Architectural or Historic Interest
The interior largely retains its early 20th century decorative scheme inspired by Scottish Renaissance interiors but designed to be less formal. The public as well as the private rooms were intended to be dignified yet comfortable and were an integral part of the concept of the artistic house which was a preoccupation of leading architects of the period. Braehead House has a particularly fine suite of public rooms which include the dining room, hall and drawing room. There have been some alterations to the fabric but the impact is minimal.
The internal scheme was co-designed and carried out by Scott Morton and Co., a renowned company of furniture makers and woodworkers based in Edinburgh. The firm were most noted for their interior work and furniture pieces for the eminent Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer. Deas, Lorimer and Scott Morton and Co. were all heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, which saw the architectural process as being an equal collaboration between skilled craftspeople, rather than that of a hierarchical system (Anderson 2005: p.43). During the early 20th century, Lorimer was Scotland s leading architect and was responsible for creating a distinctly Scottish interior style, under the wider ethos of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Scott Morton and Co. often took commissions that involved the furnishing of entire houses and they worked with a number of prominent architects of the period (Anderson 2005: 43). Carried out under the supervision of Deas, Braehead is a notable example of such an artistic interior scheme. Deas was a close friend of Lorimer and his influence is clearly evident in the internal decoration at Braehead, which displays a characteristically stripped-back interpretation of the Scottish Renaissance style. Most notably, the principal rooms have wall decorations comprising fine panelling, pilasters and cornicing that is typical of the Lorimer style, with integrated timber fireplaces and shelving units.
Braehead House has an irregular Z-shape plan, arranged around the main hall (to the centre of the south wing) and the two staircases at the southeast corner. The sprawling nature of the plan is not unusual for a grand early 20th century villa but the layout of the main rooms and circulation spaces is particularly well-considered.
The deliberate rejection of classical uniformity, typical of the ideals of Anderson s Traditionalist movement, is expressed in the varied floor levels and ceiling heights of the house. Windows are positioned irregularly and allow for different views out to the gardens and surrounding landscape with a sense of movement through the relatively narrow footprint.
Built in the early 20th century, Braehead House is among the last phase of such large houses to incorporate domestic servants quarters and rooms, as these features became redundant due to the social changes that followed the First World War. The vertical relationship between the basement level (which contained the servants quarters, kitchens and other service rooms), and the upper two floors has been partially lost due to the boarding-over of some service stairs. However, the stairs do remain and this change has had little impact on the understanding of the overall plan form.
There are some later subdivisions and alterations but these are minor and do not adversely impact upon the main rooms. The original early 20th century footprint of the house and ancillary buildings remains unchanged.
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
Braehead House is an outstanding example of the revival in Scottish Renaissance architecture and the interest in Arts and Crafts principles that took place at the turn of the 20th century. Combined with the internal decoration and ancillary buildings, it has exceptional architectural detailing throughout. The house and its associated structures have remained largely unaltered from Deas s original designs.
Braehead House has a number of features that are also inspired by the Baronial style of the mid-19th century, which had become highly fashionable for large country house design. Notable features include its asymmetrical arrangement, the turreted corner tower, the corbelling and the crowstepped gables. Another typical feature of the Baronial revival style is the crowding together of multiple chimneystacks, gables and towers, which gives the building a strong and picturesque presence on the skyline.
Francis W. Deas trained under Robert Rowand Anderson, who was largely responsible for renewing interest in traditional Scottish architecture during the second half of the 19th century. His teachings influenced the next generation of architects, which included Deas, James MacLaren, Robert Lorimer and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. By the late 19th century, the Scottish Renaissance style had developed out of Baronialism and the Arts and Crafts movement. It rejected what they considered to be the often clumsy and false ornamentation of the Baronial style, in favour of more simple facades and the use of skilled craftsmanship and historical accuracy in the detailing. This gave rise to the design of artistic villas in middle-class suburbs and in fashionable towns and villages such as North Berwick and St Boswells and is exemplified by Deas s Braehead House.
During the first decade of the 20th century, the call for a new national Scottish architecture saw the selective use of Baronial elements – a feature was exposed rubble walls – in the design of large houses and other secular buildings to signify a link to the past. The corner tower at Braehead House, for example, is very similar to that at Pilmuir House in East Lothian, which was built in 1624 (LB6398) (Cruft, Dunbar and Fawcett 2006: 660). This illustrates that unlike the earlier idiom of Baronialism, which used a haphazard mix of elements from Scottish domestic architecture, Deas employed historical accuracy to create a more authentic result.
Deas s practice was never extensive and instead he relied on a small number of wealthy clients, such as the Earl of Moray. Deas was a close friend of Robert Lorimer, who was widely regarded as being the leading Scottish architect of the period. It was Lorimer who persuaded Deas to pursue a career in architecture, rather than interior design. As a result of their friendship, Deas s work, including that at Braehead House, was heavily influenced by Lorimer and his distinctly Scottish interpretation of the Arts and Crafts movement.
The arrangement and design of the ancillary structures and the gardens of Braehead House were also influenced by the Arts and Crafts ethos, which, according to Lorimer, should be an integral part of the house with the garden in particular acting as a sanctuary (see A History of Scottish Architecture).
Deas designed the ancillary buildings and gardens to complement the house and its surroundings, but also to be functional. For example the Ordnance Survey map (published 1921) shows that the lower garden had two glasshouses at this time (now gone), so that the house could have a degree of self-sufficiency. Similarly, the red brick terrace wall and yew tree hedge to the upper terrace are not only visually pleasing but they act to shield the upper garden and create a more intimate space around the house.
The design of the west elevation is very similar to that of Allermuir in Colinton, Edinburgh by Robert Rowand Anderson (LB29948) but differs in that it contains an open loggia. This typical Arts and Crafts feature was a way of making the gardens appear as an extension of the house, and is something that Deas would later repeat it at his own house, The Murrel, in Fife (LB3598).
These Arts and Crafts traditional sensibilities are contrasted by certain modern design features. For instance the house contains what was then a state-of-the-art heating system (which is still operating) and the provision of a purpose-built engine house for motor cars (which retains an inspection pit) was a notable luxury for the period. The engine house was also purpose-built for the Sterling engine, which produced electricity for the house, whereby the chimney acted as an exhaust and the accumulators were housed in the loft above (information from the owner).
After his death, Deas was described as having had …a profound respect for the Scottish mason… and he succeeded …in producing that grandeur in Scottish domestic stone design which alone can be achieved through a combination of complete knowledge and sympathetic understanding with the practical. (RIAS Quarterly Journal: 1951). This skill is clearly evident in the intricate stonework detailing which adorns the exterior of Braehead House.
Deas s reputation as one of the finest, one-off house designers of the period endures (Strang 1994: 158). In conjunction with The Murrel (LB3598), Fyndynate House in Perth and Kinross (LB11861) and Kellas House in Moray (LB2345), Braehead House is one of the architect s most noteworthy buildings.
Braehead House is set within its own private grounds, between Main Street in St Boswells village and the River Tweed. Sited on a ridge that descends to the River Tweed to the north, this gives good views from the house and garden terraces. The various ancillary structures are largely contemporary with the main house and are well-integrated by the use of rubble whinstone, dressed sandstone and carved details. These structures include the boundary walls that enclose the grounds, the entrance arch on Main Street, the stables, the garage and the engine house. There are uninterrupted views to the north over the Tweed Valley, and to the south over St Boswells.
As the building is located along the crest of a high ridge, the varied roofline is a notable feature of the skyline, particularly when seen from the western end of the village. The picturesque setting is typical for a large house of this status and the close relationship between the house and the garden is a common feature of Arts and Crafts buildings. The house retains much of its original setting and ancillary structures, which contribute to its authenticity and interest under this category.
There are no known regional variations.
Close Historical Associations
There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2018).
Other nearby listed buildings