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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016546

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The sad remains of this once large and important Renaissance mansion have been reduced to a single, roughly rectangular block, fronting on to Castle Wynd. Originally there were wings on the north and south which enclosed three sides of a rectangular courtyard, but the foundations of these are now buried under the graveyard of the Church of the Holy Rude (no. 10). Unlike its near neighbour, Argyll Lodging (no. 11), Mar's Work is essentially a one-period building, erected for the Earl of Mar between 1570 and 1572. Mar became Regent of Scotland in 1571, but died in the following year before the house was finished, and it appears that it was never, in fact, completed. In 1733 the Town Council took a lease on the site in order to turn it into a workhouse (cfthe plans to turn Argyll Lodging into an almshouse); by 1777, however, the house was roofless and in a ruinous condition. The principal feature of the building is the lavish decoration of the facade. In contrast with the rich Anglo-Netherlandish style of Argyll Lodging, Mar's Wark reflects the less flamboyant Renaissance style of design that had been introduced to Scotland from France in the 1530s. Mar was doubtless following the fashion set by James V's Palace Block in Stirling Castle (no. 36).

Apart from the twin towers that flank the entrance pend, the facade is flat, but it was richly omamented with carving that is now much weathered. The decoration includes: heraldic and inscribed panels, initial letters and dummy gargoyles in the form of cannon. High above the door archway there is a large heraldic panel which, amongst other devices, bears the royal arms of Scotland, indicating that Mar was a Crown vassal, thus entitling him to place the royal arms, in this case those ofJames (Jacobus) VI, above his own.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

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