Estate houses in Scotland, also known as Scottish country houses, are large houses usually built on landed estates in Scotland, from the sixteenth century, after defensive Scottish castles began to be replaced by more comfortable residences built for royalty, nobility and local lairds. The origins of Scottish estate houses are in the extensive building and rebuilding of royal residences, beginning with Linlithgow, under the influence of Renaissance architecture. In the 1560s the unique Scottish style of the Scots baronial, which combined features from Medieval castles, tower houses, peel towers with Renaissance plans into houses designed primarily for residence.
After the Restoration the work of architect Sir William Bruce introduced neo-classical architecture to Scotland in the shape of royal palaces and estate houses incorporating elements of the Palladian style. In the eighteenth century Scotland produced some of the most important British architects, including William Adam and his son Robert Adam, who rejected the Palladian style and built a series of estate houses that were based on classical and continental models. The incorporation of elements of Medieval architecture into estate houses by William Adam helped launch a revival of the Scots baronial in the nineteenth century, given popularity by its use at Walter Scott’s Abbotsford House and Queen Victoria’s retreat at Balmoral Castle. In the twentieth century the building of estate houses decline with the influence of the aristocracy and many were taken over by the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland.
William Adam, was the foremost architect of his time in Scotland, designing and building numerous country houses and public buildings. Among his best known works are Hopetoun House near Edinburgh, and Duff House in Banff. His individual, exuberant, style was built on the Palladian style, but with Baroque details inspired by Vanbrugh and Continental architecture. After his death, his sons Robert and John took on the family business, which included lucrative work for the Board of Ordnance. Robert emerged as leader of the first phase of the neo-classical revival in England and Scotland from around 1760 until his death. He rejected the Palladian style as “ponderous” and “disgustful”. However, he continued their tradition of drawing inspiration directly from classical antiquity, influenced by his four-year stay in Europe. An interior designer as well as an architect, with his brothers developing the Adam style, he influenced the development of architecture, not just in Britain, but in Western Europe, North America and in Russia, where his patterns were taken by Scottish architect Charles Cameron. Adam’s main rival was William Chambers, another Scot, but born in Sweden. He did most of his work in London, with a small number of houses in Scotland. He was appointed architectural tutor to the Prince of Wales, later George III, and in 1766, with Robert Adam, as Architect to the King. More international in outlook than Adam, he combined Neoclassicism and Palladian conventions and his influence was mediated through his large number
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