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Selkirk, Bowhill

Country House (18th Century), Hospital (First World War)

Site Name Selkirk, Bowhill

Classification Country House (18th Century), Hospital (First World War)

Alternative Name(s) Bowhill Auxiliary Hospital

Canmore ID 54280

Site Number NT42NW 16

NGR NT 42582 27810

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

Administrative Areas

  • Council Scottish Borders, The
  • Parish Selkirk
  • Former Region Borders
  • Former District Ettrick And Lauderdale
  • Former County Selkirkshire

Archaeology Notes

NT42NW 16.00 42582 27810

NT42NW 16.01 42847 27885 Walled Garden

NT42NW 16.02 4264 2785 Stables

NT42NW 16.03 43059 27861 Ice-house

NT42NW 16.04 42590 27747 General Garden and Grounds

(NT 4256 2759) Bowhill (see plan) is a very large mansion, 437 ft long. It evidently originated as a smaller house, doubtless of 18th century date, which has completely disappeared as the result of excessive additions and alterations, carried out after 1812, 1830-33, and 1874-76

RCAHMS 1957, visited 1953

As described.

Visited by OS (MJF) 19 December 1979.

Architecture Notes


Architect: William Stark - 1812

William Atkinson after 1812

William Burn - 1832

Thomas Gilpin - c.1832 - garden layout

Benjamin Ferrey - c.1840

Sir Charles Barry - 1841 - conservatory and chapel additions, unexecuted

Edward Blore - 1856

J MacVicar Anderson - 1874/77 - chapel, billiard room and smoking room


Scottish Record Office -

Letters to William Cuthill (private secretary to the Duke of Buccleuch) from John Smallwood (clerk of works), about progress of building work at Bowhill, Drumlanrig, Dalkieth and Langholm Lodge. (23 items). They include:

21. Letter, William Atkinson, architect, 20 Bentinck Street, London, to William Cuthill, 1 December, 1814, informing him that he has despatched plans and elevations of proposed offices at Bowhill to the Duke.

23. Plan and elevation of a porch or covered way over steps to principal entrance, Bowhill. Initialled 2W.A." [William Atkinson] and dated "Jan. 1814". GD 224/655/3


Photographic Survey (January 1961)

Photographic survey of 3 fireplaces by the Scottish National Buildings Record in January 1961.

Publication Account (1985)

A characteristic feature of Bow hill, and in contrast to so many other large country mansions, is its dark whinstone. Though more easily dressed sandstone has been ued, for example, at the corners of the building, most is of small-sIzed dusty-grey rubble worked into regular courses, at a distance almost like bricks. The facade is generally simple, with mainly single, regularly-set windows; between the second and third floors of the central block there is a cornice which follows .round the line of the wall-head of the wings, and whIch belongs to the earlier two-storey building.

The tower, seemingly added at the same time as the further storey, gives light to galleries surrounding the hall, with their pictures and tapestries.

Bowhill is the work of several architects. Between 1874 and 1876, David Bryce added to the enlargements created by William Burn between 1830 and 1833. It was Burn who raised the central block an extra storey, who added the porch and built the eastern wing which provided the 'Duchess suite' on the principal floor. He also made many internal changes. This was not the first remodelling, however. The original, modest, 18th century country house with its hipped roof and small flanking wings soon disappeared after 1812 when William Atkinson provided designs which added a substantial facade to the central block and added both a west wing and a separate stable block, subsequently joined to the house.

Although all traces of the pre-1812 house have gone, the existing buildings retain the principle at least of a central block and wings. The 19th century kitchen has been restored.

Information from 'Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Lothian and Borders', (1985).

Project (March 2013 - September 2013)

A project to characterise the quantity and quality of the Scottish resource of known surviving remains of the First World War. Carried out in partnership between Historic Scotland and RCAHMS.

Sbc Note

Visibility: This is an upstanding building.

Information from Scottish Borders Council.

Photographic Survey

Photographic survey of the interior of Bowhill House, Selkirkshire, by the Ministry of Works/Scottish National Buildings Record in January 1961.


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