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Standing Building Recording

Date July 2007 - August 2007

Event ID 556200

Category Recording

Type Standing Building Recording


NS 3516 7866 Part of the wider assessment (in conjunction with Charlotte Maclean, for Avanti Architects) of the designed landscape associated with John Burnet's Kilmahew House of 1865-8, now demolished - also the site of the modernist St Peter's Seminary, Cardross, a building by Gillespie Coia and Kidd, whose derelict remains still stand. Analytical assessment and outline building recording was undertaken during July 2007 and August 2007.

The ruined Kilmahew Castle consists in large part of the remains of a 16th-century towerhouse of more or less conventional form. This structure was radically remodelled in the gothic taste. While presently appearing as part-folly and part-genuine it seems that the remodelling actually represents an unfinished scheme to fashion a new country house or large villa. Though this work has been attributed to the early 19th century, stylistically it appears to be more probably of mid-18th-century date and, if so, of particular architectural interest.

In the absence of historical documentation the precise dating of the structure remains unclear; it is tempting to relate this structure to the ownership of the extravagant George Maxwell Napier, who died in near-bankruptcy in 1744. If the structure can be thus associated it may pre-date the designs for the first major architectural essay in the gothick, Inveraray Castle (by Roger Morris, from 1744). It is possible that the design of the building is attributable to the architect John Douglas, who is known to have remodelled a number of other early houses and towers in a very comparable manner, and otherwise worked in the general vicinity (an unexecuted design for Rosneath Castle, 1744; Finlaystone House, 1746). In RCAHMS there is a copy by Douglas of a drawing of the original Morris design for Inveraray; this shares many details with Kilmahew, as does a further design for an unknown building in the same collection. The advice of

Simon Green, RCAHMS, is gratefully acknowledged.

Funder: Avanti Architects.

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