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Cally House

Country House (18th Century), Hotel (19-20th Century)

Site Name Cally House

Classification Country House (18th Century), Hotel (19-20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Cally Palace Hotel

Canmore ID 63695

Site Number NX55SE 11

NGR NX 59982 54946

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Girthon
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Stewartry
  • Former County Kirkcudbrightshire

Architecture Notes

NX55SE 11 59982 54946

Cally Palace spans 2 map sheets : NX55SE and NX65SW. Information from RCAHMS (LKFJ), Feb. 2002.

NX65NW 98 60343 55496 Cross Cottage

NX55SE 20 59188 54282 Cally Mains Farm

NX65NW 110 60540 56275 Main Gate Lodge, West

NX65NW 155 60568 56262 Main Gate Lodge, East

NX65SW 21 60570 54278 The Temple

NX65SW 23 60332 54825 Belvedere Lodge

NX65SW 61 60438 54964 Walled Garden


Architects - Robert Mylne 1759-63 - not built strictly to original design

John Buonarotti Papworth 1833-37

William Adam - design not carried out

Issac Ware c.1756 - design not carried out

Lanyon and Lynn - proposed additions 1857 (copies of drawings in NMRS)

Thomas Boyd 1794 - design for adds and alts


Scottish Record Office:

RHP 8823 - plan and sections of a bakers oven, 1884

RHP 8822 - plan and elevations for a mansion house, Stephen Price

Alexander Murray's house at Cally. Description, plan, elevation and sketch

of proposed house. A letter accompanied the sketch.

1759 GD10/1421/287 and 288A

Glasswork for James Murray's new house at Cally. (Dimensions and number

of panes).

c. 1760 GD10/1188

Adam, William [1689 - 1748] James Nasmyth's letter to Alexander Murray of

Broughton and Cally mentions a visit to William Adam concerning plans for

Cally and the settling of the Architect's fee.

1742 GD10/1421/411

Catalogue of Sale at Cally House.

1846 GD 10/925

1742 - Area between pavillions - William Adam. GD10/1421/212

1759 - Plan and elevation. Robert Mylne. GD10/1421/287 and 288a

William Adam and James Naysmith. Letter concerning architect's fee etc.

Early 1742 GD10/1421/411

National Library of Scotland:

NLS MS 9704 W H Playfair's tour of Galloway, 7/8/1834

'Murray of Broughton's Place is superb and he has been most successful

in adding a Porte Cochere to his great hulk of a house. Papworth is

the architect and has shown his intelligence'.

Newhailes Papers

MS 25673-8 Photograph albums including views of Cally and Marble lobby

with statuary and attempt to soften look with upholstery carpets portiers etc c1905


Photographic Survey (1956)

Photographic survey of the exterior and interior of Cally House, Kirkcudbrightshire, by the Scottish National Buildings Record in 1956.

Publication Account (1986)

The title of palace, though only recently conferred, well suits this stately neo-Classical mansion. Designed and built between 1759 and 1765, it demonstrates tangibly the rise in the landed fortunes of the Murrays of Broughton. Marriage to a Lennox heiress brought the Cally estate into the possession of Richard Murray (d. 1690), and each of the next two generations married into the family of the Earls of Galloway, their near-neighbours in Wigtownshire. The mother of James Murray (d. 1799), builder of this mansion and Broughton House in Kirkcudbright (no. 14), was daughter of the 5th Earl, and his wife was his first cousin, daughter of the builder of Galloway House (no. 24).

No doubt affected by the activities of his in-laws, Alexander Murray (d. 1750) toyed with schemes for a new house and garden prepared by William Adam in about 1742; however, only the flanking pavilions were built, later to be removed. The recommendation of the youthful Robert Mylne as architect must have been made by James Murray's brother-in-law, Lord Garlies (later 7th Earl of Galloway); his role as intermediate patron is borne out by the fact that in 1759 Mylne's draft designs were sent from Rome to him, not direct to Murray.

Mylne's commentary shows the staffmg requirements of a great house, and reflects the hirearchy of contemporary society. The lowest floor 'holds the kitchen and all the nauseous places that should not be seen or smelt by company'. On the ground floor, the main public rooms (a dining-parlour, grand diningroom, and drawing-room) were centred around a great hall. The bedrooms were on the fIrst floor, the nursery and some guest bedrooms shared the second floor with the rooms of the principal servants, whilst the garrets were set aside 'for the lower servants'.

As was later claimed, the house was probably the first in southern Scotland to be built of granite ashlar masonry, probably from Kirkmabreck. The design was unusual in having a 1-2-2-1 rhythm in the fenestration, which disguises the effect of the broad 4-bay pedimented centrepiece. In 1794 the linking corridors and pavilions were raised one storey higher in harmonious style by a local architect, Thomas Boyd.

The most substantial alterations, however, were those executed in 1833-7 for James Murray's natural son, Alexander. The architect was John Buonarotti Papworth, who was also employed by Murray of Broughton at Killybegs in County Donegal. The portico and marble lobby which he added to the front of Cally excited much comment; William Henry Playfair was impressed, but Lord Cockburn was 'disappointed . . . The marble lobby is new in Scotland, and beautiful. But for a thing of the kind, it is too little and far too fme for a mere common lobby . . . The factor told me that the whole marble of this lobby was cut, and polished, and put up by a common workman from Whitehaven'. He later recanted, declaring that 'on the whole, it is a beautiful portico; and Papworth's taste may be observed in all the internal details'.

Even Lord Cockburn was prepared to admit to the beautiful natural setting of the house, 'one of the finest in Scotland'. Work on the pleasure grounds in about 1788 included the building of a small two-storeyed garden pavilion in the form of a Gothic temple, which now stands ruinous in forest plantation (NX 606543). In addition to a walled garden, there were extensive orchards, and, about 1km south of the mansion, a well-stocked deer park (NX 5953). The landscaped policies were planted with trees. According to Robert Heron in 1792, 'Every deformity within these grounds is concealed, or converted into beauty by wood'. However, Loudon found the trees 'in many places too formal and unconnected'. More fundamentally, he declared the house to be incorrectly aligned: 'the entrance front is on the wrong side, and none of the windows of the principal rooms look towards the river'. To a professional, nothing can ever be quite perfect!

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Dumfries and Galloway’, (1986).


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