Accessibility

Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

Duff House

Country House (18th Century)

Site Name Duff House

Classification Country House (18th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Duff House Estate; Duff House Policies

Canmore ID 18493

Site Number NJ66SE 8

NGR NJ 69063 63317

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/18493

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2018.

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Banff
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Banff And Buchan
  • Former County Banffshire

Archaeology Notes

NJ66SE 8

NJ 690 633 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken during the excavation of service trenches to the E of the property in March 2006. Substantial structural remains were encountered which were then partially excavated. The remains of the Bryce wing were shown to be close to the current ground surface. Examination of archival plans and photographs allowed comparison with the revealed structural remains. Finds within the structural remains included fragments of plain white ceramics, sections of glass vials (presumably from the laboratories), painted architectural fragments and pantiles. The truncated section of wall uncovered towards the NW corner of the trench may pre-date the construction of the Bryce wing in 1860. Archival sources (illustrations) indicated the presence earlier, single roomed structures in this area. This wall was outside the area affected by the new drains.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

Paul Fox and Claire Shaw, 2006.

Architecture Notes

NJ66SE 8.00 69063 63317

Duff House [NAT]

OS (GIS) MasterMap, July 2009.

NJ66SE 8.01 69065 62848 Fishing Temple

NJ66SE 8.02 68734 63178 Fife Gates

NJ66SE 8.03 68524 62858 Ice house

NJ66SE 8.04 68043 62826 and 67974 62786 Mausoleum and St Mary's Well

NJ66SE 8.05 69054 63729 Walled Garden

NJ66SE 8.06 6902 6357 Nurses' Home

NJ66SE 8.07 6900 6330 Policies, General

NJ66SE 8.08 69378 63788 Bridge of Banff Lodge

NJ66SE 8.09 68929 63785 Collie Lodge

For dovecot at NJ 6820 6320, see NJ66SE 39.

For Eagle's Gate Lodge (NJ 6714 6162), see NJ66SE 127.

For Bridge of Alvah (NJ6803 6162) and adjacent Craig Cottage, see NJ66SE 98 and 128 respectively.

(NJ 6907 6330) Duff House (NAT)

OS 6" map, (1960)

Duff House, scheduled and in the care of the MoW, was built by William Adam, c.1750.

New Statistical Account (NSA) 1845; Country Life 1964.

As described.

Visited by OS (NKB) 1 February 1968.

Precise location of various lodges, gatepiers, a summerhouse and a bridge on the grounds (carrying main road to Turriff) uncertain at time of upgrade, 18.05.01.

ARCHITECT: William Adam

David Bryce, jnr. - addition of wings 1870

'Best apartments not finished by 1788'. (Tour in England & Scotland' 1788)

2nd Lord Fife designed 'eagle gates'

NMRS REFERENCE:

Simpson & Brown photographs :

Box 2, Album no: 17 statues and exterior views

Box 7, Album no: 103a 1988 exterior and interiors

DUFF HOUSE DRAWINGS

A collection of designs for DUff House by David Bryce, junior, 1870.

Deposited by Banff and Buchan District Council 1975

EXTERNAL REFERENCE:

Aberdeen Public Library, Reference Department

Lithograph from drawing by Charles Cordiner.

Scottish Record Office (SRO)

DUFF HOUSE -LAWSUIT

1743 3 Feb -"Lo/Bracco and Mr Adams were this day before the Lords about the building of the house, Mr Adams claims a balance of #5700 str and its thought he will prevaile" - Lachlan Grant, Edr to Ludovick Grant of Grant in London, 3 Feb 1743 -GD 248/168/11

Braco is "out of all temper" on 17th at losing a case against a tenant whom he is ordered to repossess and pay costs

and damages - lb., 17th Feb., 168/1/127

National Library

'Lord Fife and His Factor' by Alistair & Henrietta Taylor

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Activities

Photographic Survey (June 1957)

Photographic survey of Duff House and lodges, Banffshire, by the Scottish National Buildings Record in June 1957

Photographic Survey (1959)

Photographs by the Scottish National Buildings Record in 1959.

Photographic Survey (April 1962)

Photographic survey by the Scottish National Buildings Record in April 1962.

Photographic Survey (July 1962)

Photographic survey by the Ministry of Work in July 1962.

Publication Account (1986)

Of all William Adam's creations, this is the most assertive, the most brash, certainly when compared with the calmness of Had do (no. 3), which he was also building at this time. The explanation lies in Adam's ability to interpret his client's demands and temperament. In William Braco, MP, one of the richest men in the north-east (as a result of his father's banking business), Adam had a client who was determined to impress, if not daunt, his fellow mortals. Created Lord Braco in 1735 and earl of Fife in 1759,Braco and his descendants were a family in a hurry: 'from bonnet lairds to dukes in 150 years' it has been said. Adam responded brilliantly to his patron's pretensions, giving him a building that is swaggering, vainglorious and intimidating: work began in 1730.

Built in an extravagant baroque style, the house consists of a square block of three storeys and a full basement. It is entered up a double curving staircase. The principal feature of the front is a group off our Corinthian pilasters topped by a sculpture-fllled pediment and a balustrade. This block is flanked and oversailed by square corner towers that thrust upwards and outwards from the main facade. The effect is dramatic and reminiscent of some of Vanbrugh's creations. The verticality of the design, to which the pilasters make a major contribution, is emphasised by the isolation of the house. Adam originally intended that pavilions should flank the main block, sitting forward from it and linked to it by curving colonnades. That these were never built was due to a dispute between Adam and Braco in 1736 over the cost of shipping the carved Corinthian capitals from Queensferry. It was still unresolved on Adam's death in 1748. Although the house was roofed by 1739, such was Braco's bitterness that he never lived in it and would draw down the blinds of his coach whenever he passed it.

The visitor should stand before the house on the south lawn and note the overall layout, and details such as the sculpture in the pediment, the lead figures of Mars, Diana and Orpheus above and the urns placed on the balustrade yet higher above. On entering the house the height of the rooms is at once striking and daunting. The delicate plaster ceiling mouldings and the gold leaf on the doors of the first floor are fme rococo work (completed by the second earl), yet for all this refmement the overall effect is strangely lifeless.

The house was eventually occupied by the second earl and his descendants. As part of the break-up of the Fife estates, it was gifted to the burghs of Macduff and Banffin 1906 and its contents sold in 1907. It was used as a hotel, nursing home and army billet, being rescued by the then Ministry of Works in 1956.

Such a grand house had originally a large and impressive park, mostly created by the second earl. Some of the features of this park can still be seen on the riverside walk to the south of the house. There is a fine icehouse and the mausoleum built by the second earl, for which he had two tombstones removed from Cullen kirk (no. 50) and their dates altered to give his family a spurious antiquity. (These stones have since been returned to Cullen, but a third, which he removed from St Mary's, Banffis still against the back wall: it is probably the tomb of a 17th century provost of Banff.) The track winds on to the bridge of Alvah, a magnificent structure of 1772.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Grampian’, (1986).

Publication Account (1996)

Of all William Adam's creations, this is the most assertive, the most baroque, certainly when compared with the blandness of Haddo (no. 3), which he was also building at this time. The explanation lies in Adam's ability to interpret his client's demands and temperament. In William Braco, MP, one of the richest men in the north-east (as a result of his father's banking business), Adam had a client who was determined to impress, if not daunt, his fellow mortals. Created Lord Braco in 1735 and Earl Fife in 1759, Braco a nd his descendants were a fam ily in a hurry: from bonnet lairds to dukes in 150 years' it has been said. Adam rsponded brilliantly to his patron's pretensions, giving him a building that is waggering, sophisticated and breathtaking: work began in 1735.

Built in an extravagant classical-baroque style, the house consists of a square block of three storeys and a full basement. It is entered up a double curving staircase. The principal feature of the front is a group of four corinthian pilasters topped by a sculpture-filled pediment and a balustrade. This block is flanked and oversailed by square corner towers that thrust upwards and outwards from the main facade. he effect is dramatic and reminiscent of some of Vanbrugh's creations. The verticality of the design, to which the pilasters make a major contribution, is emphasised by the isolation of the house. Adam origin ally intended that pavilions should flank the main block, sitting forward from it and linked to it by curving colonnades. That these were never built was due to a dispute between Adam and Braco in 1736 over the cost of shipping the carved Corinthian capitals from Queensferry. It was finally settled in Adam's favour shortly before his death in 1748. Although the house was roofed by 1739, such was Braco's bitterness that he never lived in it and would draw down the blinds of his coach whenever he passed it.

The visitor should stand before the house on the south lawn and note the overall symmetry, and details such as the sculpture in the pediment, the lead figures of Mars, Diana and Orpheus above and the urns placed on the balustrade yet higher above. On entering the ho use the height of the rooms is at once striking and exhilarating. The delicate plaster ceiling mouldings and the gold leaf on the doors of the first floor are fine rococo work (completed by the second earl), while the central stair, rising the full weight of the house, is at once majestic yet appealingly domestic. The main public rooms are on the first and second floors, allowing visitors an elegant 'parade'.

The house was eventually occupied by the second earl and his descendants. As part of the break-up of the Fife estates, it was gifted to the burghs of Macduff and Banff in 1906 and its contents sold in 1907. It was used as a hotel, nursing home and army billet, being rescued by the when Ministry of Works in 1956. It has been meticulously restored by Historic Scotland and is now open as a Country House Gallery, clothed in pictures and furnishings, an outstation of the National Galleries of Scotland,run by the local authority.

Such a grand house had originally a large and impressive park, mostly created by the second earl. Some of the features of this park can still be seen on the riverside walk to the south of the house. There is a fine icehouse and the mausoleum built by the second earl , for which he had two tombstones removed from Cullen kirk (no. 50) and their dates altered to give his family a spurious antiquity. (These stones have since been returned to Cullen, but a third, which he removed from St Mary's, Banff is still against the back wall: it is probably the tomb of a 17th century provost of Banff.) The track winds on to the bridge of Alvah, a magnificent structure of 1772.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Aberdeen and North-East Scotland’, (1996).

Watching Brief (March 2006)

NJ 690 633 Archaeological monitoring was undertaken during the excavation of service trenches to the E of the property in March 2006. Substantial structural remains were encountered which were then partially excavated. The remains of the Bryce wing were shown to be close to the current ground surface. Examination of archival plans and photographs allowed comparison with the revealed structural remains. Finds within the structural remains included fragments of plain white ceramics, sections of glass vials (presumably from the laboratories), painted architectural fragments and pantiles. The truncated section of wall uncovered towards the NW corner of the trench may pre-date the construction of the Bryce wing in 1860. Archival sources (illustrations) indicated the presence earlier, single roomed structures in this area. This wall was outside the area affected by the new drains.

Archive to be deposited in NMRS.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

Paul Fox and Claire Shaw, 2006.

Watching Brief (1 August 2011)

A watching brief was maintained during the excavation of trenches to locate and repair a water leak close to the NW and SW corners of the house. A drain was exposed which appeared to be part of the 19th-century layout.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Historic Scotland

Kirkdale Archaeology 2011

Information also repotred in Oasis (kirkdale1-123640) 18 July 2012

References

MyCanmore Image Contributions


Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions