Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Publication Account

Date 2007

Event ID 1019590

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


The Threatened Building Survey of Aberlour House has been carried out because of the change of ownership of this important A listed house and in advance of the alterations and demolitions necessary to convert the buildings to office use. The opportunity has been taken to relate the extensive holdings on the house in RCAHMS Collections to what was actually carried out. The survey consists of a graphic record of the house, which will amend the existing c.1879 survey and be date-hatched. The photographic survey will include the house, stables, game larders, lodges, bridges, designed landscape, gardens, column and walled gardens.

William Robertson of Elgin designed Aberlour House in 1838 for Mr Alexander Grant. Grant had made a fortune in the West Indies, and commissioned his new house on a prominent site with spectacular views of the Spey. The original house, which consisted of the 5 bay symmetrical front or north block, was never inhabited. Alexander Grant died in 1854 and Miss Margaret Gordon Macpherson, his niece, inherited ‘the beautiful little estate of Aberlour and a fortune of fully a quarter of a million’. She added Grant to her name, and employed A and W Reid, William Robertson’s nephews, to complete the house to a greatly extended plan. They were involved with works on the estate from 1854 until 1868; they added the porte-cochere in 1857, and enlarged the service accommodation to incorporate a top-lit ballroom, now the staff restaurant; they appear to have added the bay windows to the drawing and dining rooms. They also built the fine stable block and the Italianate West Lodge. Their uncle had probably designed the neo-classical East Lodge and erected the magnificent memorial column.

Miss Macpherson Grant died in 1877, but the ownership of the estate between her death and 1885, when John Ritchie Findlay bought it, is uncertain. The plans illustrated were drawn up c.1879 presumably in relationship to the sale of the estate. Findlay immediately employed his friend Arthur G Sydney Mitchell to make proposals for the gardens, which were not realised (SMW 1880/23/3/8), but a variety of minor internal alterations were made in 1885–6, including a very necessary draught lobby at the front door. Mitchell also created extra bedrooms, and arranged better circulation in the service quarters. Between 1886 and 1892 Findlay made extensive alterations and additions to the house, which included extending the original drawing room to create a larger dining room and adding a large new drawing room to the east, as well as creating a new billiard room. The original dining room was fitted up as a library, perhaps adapting earlier fittings. The architect of this work is unknown, but in 1892-3 he employed Robert Lorimer to decorate the interiors. The RCAHMS holds extensive records of various schemes, but the work carried out includes the marble floor in the hall, the panelling of the main east–west corridor, the unusual chimneypiece in the dining room and various plaster adornments. The library was also embellished with new upper bookcases, along with a very fine chimneypiece with inset antique roundels. There are no drawings for the library in the RCAHMS collections. Stylistically this refit could be attributed to F W Deas, a great friend of Lorimer, who did extensive work in Morayshire. See for example the Kellas Lodge Survey.

The Findlay family sold the house after World War II, and it was turned into Aberlour House Preparatory School. Few major alterations were made except for the infilling of the east service courtyard and the conversion of the stable block into classrooms. Various ancillary buildings were added, but the house remained largely unaltered. The school closed in 2005, and the house was bought by Walkers Shortbread Ltd and is now their offices. The Walkers have embarked on a major restoration of the main house, have demolished some ancillary buildings and propose to embark on the restoration of the stable block.

Information from ‘Commissioners’ Field Meeting 2007'.

People and Organisations