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Islay, Islay House

Country House (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Islay, Islay House

Classification Country House (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Islay House Estate; Kilarrow House

Canmore ID 37751

Site Number NR36SW 14

NGR NR 33390 62809

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Killarow And Kilmeny
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Architecture Notes

NR36SW 14.00 33390 62809

NR36SW 14.01 33506 62451 West Lodge (Gardener's House)

NR36SW 14.02 33570 62855 Home Farm, Farmhouse

NR36SW 14.03 33685 62565 Dry Bridge (Viaduct)

NR36SW 14.04 cancelled site (see NR36SE 64)

NR36SW 14.05 32183 62791 West Tower

NR36SW 14.06 33535 62432 Gateway

NR36SW 14.07 33521 62479 East Tower

NR36SW 14.08 33013 62949 Bluehouses

NR36SW 14.09 33560 62844 Home Farm, Cottage

NR36SW 14.11 33585 62869 Home Farm, Connecting Wing

NR36SW 14.12 33526 62788 Home Farm, Farmsteading, NW Range

NR36SW 14.13 33546 62764 Home Farm, Farmsteading, SW Range

NR36SW 14.14 33572 62769 Home Farm, Farmsteading, SE Range

NR36SW 14.15 33556 62775 Home Farm, Byre

NR36SW 14.16 33505 62816 Home Farm, Kennels

NR36SW 14.17 33542 62841 Home Farm, Farm Managers House, East Wing

NR36SW 14.18 33536 62835 Home Farm, Farm Managers House, West Wing

NR36SW 14.19 33527 62827 Home Farm, Farm Managers House, Ancillary Range

NR36SW 14.20 33533 62817 Home Farm, Farm Managers House, Ancillary Range

NR36SW 14.21 33548 62835 Home Farm, Farm Managers House, Ancillary Range

NR36SW 14.22 33552 62831 Home Farm, Farm Managers House, Ancillary Range

(NR 33390 62809) The main block of Islay House, formerly called "Kilarrow House", was built about 1680, though the windows were later enlarged. It is three storeys high. Two wings were added in 1737. Polygonal stair- towers have been added to the ends; the E one about 1760. Extensions were made in 1841-5 at the SE, and a two-storey and attic wing, in the style of the old house was added in 1910. There is another, low addition to NW.

HBD No. 15

Islay House is as described; not outstanding.

Visited by OS (N K B) 19 April 1979.

ARCHITECT: W.H. Playfair (Offices and Lodge) 1841-1845

Detmar Blow, Westminster c. 1910 - additions.


Islay Estate Office: Detmar Blow c.1910 - Plans, elevations and sections of additions and alterations.

N.M.R.S Copies of watertcolours W.Heath 1829 - c.1832, in possession of Hon. James Morrison, Islay House Estate.

This substantial mansion-house (NR 334 629) stands close to the village of Bridgend, known formerly as Kilarrow, and

faces sw across the head of Loch Indaal. The building comprises work of several different periods: the original core

of the house was erected by Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor, who recorded instructions for the building of a house here in

April 1677; (Cawdor Book) the house was subsequently extended by the later owners of the property, Daniel Campbell of Shawfield and his descendants after 1726, and from 1853 James Morrison of Basildon Park and his successors. (Burke's Landed Gentry, 1965-72; Storrie 1981)

In its extended layout the three-storeyed frontal block is of half-H plan with projecting polygonal stair-towers at each

end. The end bays of the sw frontage are surmounted by crowstepped gables and, together with the harled and

limewashed masonry and the plain fenestration, give this aspect of the house a distinctly traditional character. This

treatment is copied in the early 20th-century enlargement of the front portion of the SE wing, whilst the 19th-century

service buildings grouped around the courtyards at the rear are of Scots Baronial style and constructed of brown slugged ashlar masonry. A single-storeyed cottage and court of offices form an L-shaped adjunct to the N wing of the main block. The present internal arrangements reflect the extensive remodellings of the early Victorian and Edwardian periods.

Despite its apparent external homogeneity, the half-H main block probably comprises a late 17th-century L-plan

nucleus to which a gable-fronted N wing was added in 1731. Detailed examination of the fabric is limited by external

harling and internal wall-linings, and this analysis is thus based on relative wall-thicknesses, wall alignments, and the

disposition of fireplaces and window-openings. The original L-plan block measures 19.5m in length by 14.4m

transversely across the wing, the end-walls measuring respectively about 1.0m and 0.8m in thickness. It rises to

three main storeys and an attic, and the round-arrised windows towards the S end of the sw frontage retain their

original daylight-openings and wide spacing. The only clues as to the layout of the late 17th-century interior are provided by the existing chimney-flues; their disposition seems to indicate that the earliest house incorporated living-rooms on the ground floor, and the offset position of the fireplace in the NE gable-wall may imply that the original stair was sited at the N angle or within the re-entrant of the wing.

The N wing is dated 1731 on the ogival-moulded skewput at the W angle. It is a little longer and narrower than the

corresponding s wing, and likewise has walls of lesser thickness and a slightly different fenestration. It measures

14.9m in length by 8.9m transversely over walls 0.7m in thickness, as compared with corresponding dimensions of

14.4m, 9.4m and 1.0m. The two stair-towers were added at opposite ends of the building later in the 18th century

probably about 1760; they are lit by Palladian three-light windows in the end-walls, and the N tower still retains it

balustraded parapet. The stairs were originally served by external ground-floor doorways, the entrance into the N stair

subsequently having been blocked up and that of the S tower converted into a window. They were superseded in the early 19th century by a main entrance formed at the S angle of the of SE end-wall. This doorway, which is depicted on one of the Heath watercolours of about 1830, is surmounted by a segmental-arched radial fanlight and framed within fluted pilasters and entablature of red sandstone.

Some of the Heath views also show a group of ancillary buildings to the SE and rear of the main block, and these are

also shown in plans of the policies, dated 1825. These offices were replaced and extended after 1841 by W H Playfair

architect, for Walter Frederick Campbell. Playfair's service buildings and housekeeper's lodge are in Scots Baronia

style, and at the rear this group of single- and two-storeyed buildings retain their rounded turrets, crow-stepped gable

and pedimented dormers. An elaborate cartouche above the door in the SE courtyard contains a monogram of the initial

of Walter Frederick Campbell, and the kitchen preserves its large hood-moulded and mullioned-and-transomed windows in the SE end-wall. The full extent and character of these early Victorian extensions by Playfair can be appreciated from the available late 19th-century photographs. Playfair's SW frontage was heightened in a style matching the main block by Detmar Blow for Hugh Morrisonin in 1909-11.

This remodelled SE range contains a dining-room and servants' hall on the ground floor with a suite of bedroom;

and a nursery on the floor above. On the ground floor of the main block the existing layout includes an enlarged hall ini

the SE wing while the former dining-room (now the lower drawing-room) and the library are grouped en suite along the front, and a passage serves the rooms at the rear of the N wing. The NW room has a fine marble chimney-piece with a

lugged and faceted surround of 18th-century character which corresponds with one in the existing dining-room in

the SE range and was probably installed in about 1910. Both staircases are of a graceful geometric design, possessing

wrought-iron balustrades, moulded stone treads and decorative consoles below the soffits of the stair-landings. At

first-floor level in the main block there is a large upper drawing-room, whose timber chimney-piece incorporates

flanking Composite columns. The fireplaces in the immediately adjacent rooms to the SW and SE preserve 18th-

century stone bead-moulded surrounds with sunken quarter-round lintels. There is an embrasure of uncertain purpose

and date in the NW wall of the sw room of the wing, occupying a similar position to that of an aurnbry with splayed ingoings in the corresponding room on the ground floor.

Visited May 1976



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