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STIRLINGSHIRE - an inventory of the Ancient Monuments (1963)

Royal Commission on the Ancient Monuments of Scotland  

295- Bannockburn House occupies a pleasant and secluded site about a mile S. of Bannockburn Town (No. 264) and a quarter of a mile E. of the main Glasgow-Stirling road (A 80). The building is of 17th-century date, and, although subsequently altered and enlarged, its unusual plan together with the fine plaster ceilings makes it one of the most interesting examples of its period in the county.

The lands of Bannockburn and Skeoch were granted by Charles I to John Rollo, second son of Sir Andrew Rollo of Duncrub, in 1636.1 In 1666, Andrew, 3rd Lord Rollo, succeeded his uncle in the property, but financial difficulties forced him to sell the estate to Hugh Paterson after he had held it for less than ten years.2 The new owner was created a baronet in 1686, and, although the Jacobite sympathies of the Patersons led to the forfeiture of the baronetcy after the rebellion of 1715, the family continued to live at Bannockburn until well on in the 18th century.3 The house has since passed through a number of different hands. The exact date of its erection is not known, but two of the ceilings can be ascribed to about the year 1680 and this suggests that the house may have been built by Hugh Paterson soon after he acquired the property, although the strap-worked pediments of the dormer windows are a generation earlier in style. It was considerably enlarged at the end of the 19th century.

Bannockburn House is a symmetrically planned H-shaped building (Fig. 129), a basement and three storeys in height. It consists of a main block, which measures 44 ft. 3 in. by 34 ft. 6 in. over all and runs E. and W., together with two wings which run N. and S. and measure 42 ft. n in. by 22 ft. 6 in. over all. The plan differs widely from that of the typical Scottish house of the period and may derive from an English model, although the elevations and detail are characteristically Scottish. The building is of rubble, which may have been harled originally but is now covered with a cement rendering; the voids are of dressed sandstone, most of the original openings having chamfered arrises. The base­ment windows have been barred, while those on the ground and first floors seem to have been half-glazed and half-barred, the lower part of the window being protected by a shutter. The walls rise from a plinth to an ogival-moulded eaves-course; the gables are crow-stepped and finish in moulded skewputs. On the N. facade (Fig. 129) the main block contains three ranges of symmetrically placed windows which light the principal floors, those of the second floor being dormers. All the windows have moulded cornices, which in the case of the dormers support carved, strap-worked pediments. The entrance-doorway is centrally placed at ground-floor level and is now entered through an ill-proportioned porch which was erected about the year 1884 A moulded panel-recess, now empty but designed to accommodate a coat of arms, is placed over the central window above first-floor level. The fenestration of the N. wing is symmetrical and corresponds with that of the main frontage, but there may originally have been two windows on each storey in the N. gable-ends. The ground level on this side of the house was probably raised a little when the new porch was erected. The S. facade corresponds closely with the N. one, but the wings have less projection. It has been altered through the conversion of the E. window on the ground floor into a garden door and the renewal of the dormer pediments. The S. projection of the W. wing is now concealed by the extensive additions carried out by Waller & Sons, architects, about the year 1884.5 The bay window that projects at ground-floor level on the E. frontage of the E. wing is probably an addition of the same date. The offices to the W. of the house are of late 18th- or early 19th-century date, but were further extended in 1884. click to see full sized image


Interior The plan is a symmetrical one, the main block being designed to accommodate two principal apartments, one on the ground floor and the other on the first floor; while the arms of the contain the smaller rooms together with the twin stairs, which rise to the full height of the house. The stairs, which are of stone, are dog-legged; the treads are bottle-nosed and have a width of 4 ft. (PI. 167 A). The front door gives access to a large room which occupies the greater part of the main block; this apartment may always have served as an entrance hall, but in the course of the alterations of 1884 it was carried up through the old first-floor drawing-room, and was provided with a gallery and otherwise remodelled. The floor of the drawing-room was removed and its fine plastered ceiling thus forms the principal feature of interest in the entrance hall. The ceiling (Pls. 168-171) is in the elaborate and highly ornamental style that was in vogue in the reign of Charles II. It comprises a number of panels of geometrical shapes symmetrically disposed around an oval compartment in the centre. The panels and the borders of the central oval are enriched with an abundance of detail in high relief, the ornament con­sisting for the most part of bunches of fruit, flowers and foliage. The frieze is decorated with a repeating pattern in the same style, and there is a rose-and-bracket cornice. Some of the background is painted in blue and brown and part of the ornament is picked out in gilt. The strong resemblance of this ceiling to those of the State Apartments at Holy rood Palace, Edinburgh,6 and especially to that of the King's Bedroom, suggests that one or more of the Holyrood plasterers may also have worked at Bannockburn. East of the entrance hall, but also within the main block, there is a small room which retains an original plaster frieze and cornice. The frieze (PI. 173a) has a repeating pattern in low relief incorpor­ating a vase, foliage, fruit and figures. The E. wing contains two rooms, one on each side of the staircase, but both have been very much altered. The arrange­ment of the W. wing is the same; the small room to the N. of the stair has some 18th-century panelling and a moulded plaster ceiling-cornice, while the cupboard in the N. wall may originally have been a window. The room to the S. of the stair was inaccessible at the date of visit.

The plan of the first floor repeats that of the ground floor. Of the drawing-room, which occupied the greater part of the main block, nothing remains but the ceiling, and this has already been described. The original fireplace in the W. wall was blocked when the gallery was built, and at the same time the window at the W. end of the S. wall was converted into a door to give access from the gallery to the SW. addition. The room occupying the S.  part of the E. wing has a plaster ceiling (PI. 172), similar  in style to that of the old drawing-room but more restrained in its ornamental detail; it comprises a central quatrefoil with an enriched border of fruit and flowers, together with corner panels, each of which is outlined with a rod-and-ribbon border and contains a vase of flowers. In the S. wall there is an original stone fireplace with a bolection moulding. To the W. of this room, to which it serves as a dressing-room, there is a smaller apartment which is contained within the main block;  it has an ornamental plaster frieze (PI. 173 b)  similar to the one in the room that occupies a corresponding position on the ground floor. The small room to the N. of the stair has been remodelled but retains a moulded plaster ceiling-cornice. The larger of the two rooms in the W. wing (PI. 167 3) has an 18th-century fireplace, some panelling of the same period and a low-relief plaster frieze of 17th-century date (PI. 173 c) similar to the two already noted. The door in the S. wall is an insertion. The small room to the N. of the stair retains an original bolection-moulded fireplace and a moulded plaster cornice ; the cupboard in the N. wall may origin­ally have been a window recess. On the third floor the arrangement of the wings is like that on the two lower floors, but the main block contains a number of bedrooms which are entered from a corridor on the N. Some of the roof timbers are original and have incised positioning numerals; wooden slate-pegs are still in use. The base­ment has been much altered and is of little interest. The main block contains a range of cellars which are entered from a corridor on the N. and there are other rooms in the wings; the position of the original kitchen is un­certain. In the N. part of the W. wing, and at a lower level, there is an unlit barrel-vaulted cellar. Access is from above by a stair and a hatch, neither of which is original in its present form. None of the other basement rooms is vaulted and the only remaining features of interest are the chamfered stone surrounds of some of the doorways. Most of the windows have been enlarged.

Dovecot. The dovecot that stands 250 yds. NE. of the house is described under No. 392.

808888 ns 88 nw      3 August 1956

 

1 Scots Peerage, vii, 196.

2 H.M. General Register House, Inventory of Rollo Charters, Nos. 104 and 120.

3Complete Baronetage,iv, 342,

4A drawing of about 1820, reproduced by Fleming, Castles and Mansions, 282, shows the original porch, and this has been incorporated in the elevational drawing of the N. facade (Fig. 129).

5Plans of the house, dating from this time, are preserved by the owner, Miss Mitchell.

6 Inventory of the City of Edinburgh, No. 87. Cf. also Turner, L.,Decorative Plasterwork in Great Britain, 144 ft.