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Field Visit

Date April 1988

Event ID 1082968

Category Recording

Type Field Visit


This castellated Gothic mansion, prominently situated in wooded policies above the Firth of Clyde with extensive views S to the island of Bute, was built in two stages. The original house, the present E section, was erected in 1820 by Kirkman Finlay, a wealthy Glasgow merchant and former Lord Provost, who had bought the estate of Auchavoulin (see No.l54) three years previously and renamed it Toward. It was designed by David Hamilton, and 'there was none of that talented architect's plans which he himself considered more satisfactory' (en.1). In 1920-4 the present W section was added in matching style by Andrew Coats. The house was requisitioned in 1939 by the Royal Navy and acquired in 1947 by Glasgow Corporation for use as a residential school (en.2).

The original E block is of two and three storeys with basement, and measures 34.2m from E to W by 33.2m overall. It is constructed of horizontally-tooled white sandstone ashlar with Perpendicular or Castellated detailing, particularly in its principal S facade; mullioned-and transomed windows, hood-moulds, string courses and crenellations. The principal feature of the S facade is an irregular group at its E end. A crenellated turreted tower contains the main hall, with three-light windows, and two shields inscribed KF / JS and AD / 1820, on the E facade; to its NE, a machicolated staircase tower of semi-circular plan; and to its S, a turreted and crenellated porch with arched door facing E. To the w there extends the main S facade, with an originally plain two-storeyed three-bayed central section, and then a three-storeyed tower with machicolated battlements and a plain turreted outer bay. Its basement is battered, and has pointed sash-and-case windows. To the NE of the main building there extends a single-storeyed service courtyard with E archway and bellcot. The rear (N) facade is dominated by clusters of octagonal chimneystacks and by a tall NW tower with an octagonal upper part and machicolated parapet.

Internally, the SE porch, staircase and hall give access, on the E to a staircase in the circular tower, and on both ground and first floors, to corridors on the W flanked by rooms on both sides. The porch, staircase and hall retain original plaster rib-vaulting with clustered wall-shafts and ceiling bosses, and have Perpendicular-traceried doorways and windows. The decoration of the staircase, corridor and other main rooms, however, was replaced in the 1920s. The principal ground-floor accommodation comprises a S central dining-room with, to the E, a servery and staircase to the basement kitchen, and, to the w, a library and drawing room. To the N is located the main service-stair, the service entrance, and three smaller rooms.

The alterations of the 1920s principally involved the construction of a large W block of three storeys, basement and attic, matching the castellated detailing of the earlier work. It is of T-plan and measures 37.1 m from N to S by 23.3 m overall. Its principal W facade is roughly symmetrical, with projecting towers flanking a recessed centre with ground-floor arched screen accessible by an open staircase. Substantial alterations were also made to the original block, which gained a third (attic) storey, more elaborate detailing to battlements and elsewhere, and a central balcony and two ground-floor bay-windows on the s facade. Internally, the W block extended the original ground-floor corridor into a new staircase-hall, giving access to a W ballroom, an enlarged S drawing-room, and two other main rooms. Its decoration comprises a mixture of Perpendicular Gothic and Jacobean, in the staircase-hall and ballroom; Adam style, in the SW room; and Louis XVI in the drawing room. Eclectic classical detailing was also carried into the original block, notably the E-W corridors on ground and first floors, and the E staircase. The library was given a new saucer-domed ceiling, full-height book-cabinets, and neo-17th-century bolection-moulded chimneypiece.

COURT OF OFFICES [NS16NW 22.2]. These buildings, which are situated 0.5km SW of the house, near Toward Quay, and include an entrance-archway, are built in the same castellated style and' present the likeness of a strong barbican or outwork’ (en.3). The entrance-arch is set in a square turreted tower, with a higher SE turret rising from its roof. Further additions were made in the 1920s.

RCAHMS 1992, visited April 1988

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