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Kinross House

Country House (17th Century)

Site Name Kinross House

Classification Country House (17th Century)

Canmore ID 27882

Site Number NO10SW 12

NGR NO 12637 02044

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Digital Images

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Kinross
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Kinross-shire

Archaeology Notes

NO10SW 12.00 12637 02044

NO10SW 12.01 Centred on NO 12612 02056 Garden; Sundial

NO10SW 12.02 NO 1280 0201 Fish Gate

NO10SW 12.03 Centred on NO 12416 02214 Stables

NO10SW 12.04 Centred on NO 12028 02191 Gate-Lodges & Gates

(NO 1263 0204) Kinross House (NAT)

OS 6" map (1913-38)

The present Kinross House was built between 1685 and 1690.


(NO 1281 0211) During the 16th century a separate family (Douglas) residence connected with the Lochleven estate, existed close to the western shore of Loch Leven. From an exploration made a few months ago (c.1900) it was found to have been situated to the north of the north-east corner of the present garden at the back of Kinross House, indeed part of the wall of that garden seems to have been the original enclosing wall of the garden in front of the manor. Like the present house it appears to have stood with its back to the lock, and all along the back of the building there has evidently been a range of offices facing the loch.

R B Burns 1901

The present Kinross House is in use as a private residence. There is now no trace of the earlier 16th century house, but Mrs Purvis-Russell Montgomery (Kinross House) says that a crude stone cross, 1.8m high, at NO 1274 0216 marks its site.

Visited by OS (WDJ) 19 December 1963.

Architecture Notes

Owner: Mrs. Purvis-Russell-Montgomery.

Architect: Sir William Bruce 1685

Dr Thomas Ross - restoration 1904

Information from Glasgow School of Art catalogue slip:

KR 120 William Bruce drawing of Kinross House in possession of School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art

NMRS Printroom

W Schomberg Scott Photographic Collection Acc no 1997/39

the garden front - 3 prints

External Reference

National Archives of Scotland

Accounts for work at Kinross. They include a mason's Contract between Sir William Bruce and Tobias Back (or Bachop) for building a gate and accounts for mason work from Mungo Wallace and James Anderson

1684 GD29/263/18

Account of work executed by Peter Paul Boyse and Cornelius van Nerven, Dutch stone carvers.

1686 GD29/263/19

Accounts for work at Kinross. They include an account from Tobias Barkop, mason for #2,473.1/ Scots. Other mason's accounts from James Mudie, John Ballantyne, David Moros, Jon Baron, Alexander Miller, James Anderson, John Hamilton and Mungo Wallace. Glasswork account from John Henderson. Slater's survey of coach houses and stables from John Watt.

1686 GD29/263/20

Accounts for work at Kinross House Include: Mason's James Anderson, James Burn, William Crosbie and Alexander Miller. Smith's William Thomson. Wright's Thomas Oliphant; Glazier's John Henderson, Plasterer's Thomas Alburn and Slater's Andrew Toschach. Contract for the lathe and plasterwork for Coachhouses and stables Thomas Allburne.

1687 GD29/263/21

Accounts and greater detail of work at Kinross House. They include those of masons, slaterers and glaziers. There are 14 masons names [see overleaf]

1690 GD29/263/24

Masons names: Tobias Bachop, James Moros, James Mudie, Alexander MIller, James Wilson, John Steedman, Jon Baron, David Smith, James Stoddart, John Thomson, James Anderson, William Hutton, Jon Ballantyne and David Moriss.

Accounts and greater detail of work at Kinross House. They include a summary of the work of 8 masons: James Anderson, John Ballantyne, John Goodman, James Mudie, Jon Webster, William Hatton, James Morris and Alexander Miller.

1691 GD29/263/25

Paintings - Chinese and Hindu included in sale of Household furniture belonging to the late Thomas Graham M.P. The appraiser's account also mentions an allowance paid to Mr. A. Hogg for The PLan of Kinross House.

1829 GD29/263/27

Accounts include those of 9 masons for the House and 7 for the laying out of the gardens. Glazier's, Wright's, slaterers' and plasterer's accounts are included.

1693 GD29/263/27

Masons:David Morois, John Ballantyne, James Anderson, William Crosbie, Jon Webster, James Thomas, James Home, William Hutton and John Bachope or Buchop.

Wrights: John Fair and Robert Bennett.

Glazier: John Henderson. Slaters: Andrew Wilson and William Imbrie.

Plasterer: Robert Alborn


Masons: James Shanks, James Graham, Robert Goodman, David Law, Alexander Thomson, Lawrence Rattray and James Howitson.

Accounts due to masons for work.

1688 & 90 GD/1/51/62

Kinross. House and Estate.

John Bruce of Kinross grants the life of the Old House commonly called the New House with the 'new improven grounds'

in the park, to his Father Sir William Bruce of Kinross.

Disposition and assignation.

1700 GD220/6/282/1

Houses and Estate.

John Bruce of Kinross grants in favour of his wife Christian, Marchioness of Montrose, life rent of the Mansionhouse of Kinross and The Old House commonly called New House with all the office houses, park gardens, orchards old and new belonging to the two houses with The Castle of Lochleven and Inch called St Serf's Inch.

Disposition and assignation.

1700 GD220/6/282/1

External reference

National Library

Architects Journal September and October 1929 plans, elevations and details.


Photographic Survey (June 1961)

Photographic survey by the Scottish National Buildings Record/Ministry of Work in June 1961.

Publication Account (1987)

Kinross House is one of the most important houses in Scotland as it is the finest and best preserved example of a group of houses designed by Sir William Bruce according to Palladian principles.

Bruce bought Kinross Estate in 1675 and had the house built for his own use. From 1675 until the house was completed in 1693 he occupied Loch Leven Castle (no. 50). The house was planned on an axis drawn between the tower of Loch Leven Castle and the Tolbooth Steeple ofKinross, the house being sited about half-way between these features. Bruce utilised a 'double-pile' plan similar to that used by Sir Roger Pratt at Coleshill, England, but combined this with massing and detailing which is obviously French in origin. The exterior of the house is expressed as a two-storey structure over a semi-basement There is an attic storey suppressed in external appearance by locating the windows above the cornice and below the steeply pitched roof Similarly there are mezzanine floors at each end of the building providing servants' rooms, lit from the gables.

The interior decoration is in the Anglo-Dutch style that Bruce had introduced into Scotland, but shortage offunds prevented the fmishing of the upper floor to the same standard as that of the lower. Externally this shortage is not evident and a well-integrated series of forecourts, gardens and policies demonstrates Bruce's talent for formal planning on a grand scale.

Bruce's other houses in Tayside and Fife have fared badly, most being demolished or destroyed by fire. Only his former house of Balcaskie near Anstruther (NO 524035) has survived intact but this was a conversion from a former tower-house to an approximately symmetrical house. The formal garden at Balcaskie is a worthy forerunner to the gardens at Kinross.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Fife and Tayside’, (1987).

Desk Based Assessment (October 2010 - January 2011)

NO 12637 02044 A conservation plan was prepared, October 2010–January 2011, in advance of internal and external conservation work. Kinross House is the single most important project of Sir William Bruce. The house was the first in Scotland to introduce certain ideas of state apartment planning taken from France, and incorporated the latest ideas from Palladio, re-emerging during the Restoration. The laying out of the grounds began 1679 and building work followed in the 1680s. However, Bruce’s political, social and economic standing deteriorated, and the house was never completed.

The research was able to demonstrate that Bruce’s Great Dining Room had been a double cube room, again derived from Palladio, and comparable to rooms executed by Inigo Jones before the Civil War. However, possibly during mid-19th-century repairs to the roof, the ceiling was lowered, and the musician’s gallery blocked. The space was further compromised by a new enriched plaster ceiling designed by Thomas Ross in c1906.

The greatest period of change at Kinross was under Sir Basil Montgomery, who inherited the house in c1900. One of the most significant discoveries was the involvement of Sir Robert Lorimer, from 1899–1902. His greatest contribution was alterations to the panelled entrance hall; here evidence confirming Bruce’s original layout was also identified. Thomas Ross subsequently took over the work after 1902. The house remained largely unchanged in the 20th century.

Archive: RCAHMS

Funder: First Sight Estates Ltd

Simpson and Brown Architects, 2011


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