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Leith Hall, Stables

Office(S) (Period Unassigned), Stable(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Leith Hall, Stables

Classification Office(S) (Period Unassigned), Stable(S) (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Leith Hall Policies

Canmore ID 77077

Site Number NJ52NW 4.02

NGR NJ 54043 29980

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Kennethmont
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Gordon
  • Former County Aberdeenshire

Recording Your Heritage Online

The crisply harled semicircular offices, 1754 (extended 1901), are half of an intended round square.

Taken from "Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie - An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Ian Shepherd, 2006. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes


Field Visit (June 2006)

A full standing building survey was beyond the remit of this survey but the structure has been examined in some detail.

The building is half mooned shaped and c 10m across the semicircular yard it encloses. The exposed N gable is 5.7m wide. It is stone walled with a slate roof with ball finials on the ridge. At present it is harled. There is dressed sandstone around original doors and windows. The evidence suggests that only the W half of the block shown on the 1758 plan was built. In its original form this appears to have had two narrow slit vents in the W curving wall to give light and ventilation to the horses. These would have been at about horse head to shoulder level. A good parallel is shown by slit vents at the head of the stall in the stable of Leochel-Cushnie House, Aberdeenshire built c1724 as a manse (Farm Buildings Survey. National Museum of Scotland (National Museums of Scotland – Scottish Life Archive FB54535). The exact form of the stalls is unknown but the horses’ heads would have been tied to the W wall, with access from behind. The upper floor held the hay loft with a big loading door (1.62m wide and 1.54m high) in the W wall, the ground behind is higher which would have made it easier to pitch hay into the loft. The front of the loft was lit by a line of six windows, three of which had subsequently been blocked. The hay was pitched down through a trap in the loft floor towards the S end; this had been blocked by the later partition across the S end of the loft. The central and S doors in the curved front wall of the block may be the original doors; they were carefully shaped and fitted flush into the stone jambs. Both doors were hung on the LHS. The elegance of the 18th -century stable reflects the value and status of good horses at the period. This can be seen in the context of the development of thoroughbred breeding in the 18th century as illustrated for example in the paintings of Stubbs ( 1724-1806). The Statistical Account of 1791-7 ( vol 13, 75- 6) notes 1 wheeled carriage and 8 saddle and carriage horses in the parish at that time although it is not recorded who owned them.

Structural evidence suggests that the original 18th century block was considerably altered when the new stalls were installed in the 19th century; these included the blocking of the 18th -century stable slot vents. The 19th –century tiling covers the scars on the inside, although in the N loosebox in the central part of the stable there is a slight bulge in the plaster below the water trough. The small square windows above the three central stalls may have been inserted at this time to replace the blocked arched slit vents.

In the central part of the stable there are two loose boxes at either end and three tied stalls in the centre. In the S room of the stables there are a further three tied stalls with only the scars of the trevises remaining. Each tied stall is 2.43m long and 2.5m wide at the head, narrowing towards the tail. The trevises are of vertical pitch pine with a cast iron trevis post and curved cast iron railings above. The height at the head is 2m; the trevis post at the back is 1.8m tall. Each stall originally had a cast iron water trough and a hay hake and a central tethering ring. The end loose boxes are 3m long and the width is between 2.77 and 3.45m, with a door 1.10m wide at the inner angle. The water troughs and hay rakes are in the corners.

Internal doors and a couple of steps give access between the three S stables and the central block. A trap door (now blocked) above the lobby between the stables allowed hay to be tossed from the loft above. The stair to the loft leads from the N end of the central stable turning to rise steeply over the N loose box. A photograph dated 1894 shows the N door of the stable block and the N window; it is noticeable that the door is hung on the RHS, unlike the other two doors which hang to the LHS, the photograph also shows the structure of this door to be different from the existing double door or the single doors on the other entrances. It is 1.22m wide and appears to have been widened on the left side as the threshold has an addition of 120mm to the left, suggesting that this door was originally the same width of 1.10m as the other two and like them hung on pivots on the LHS. It would appear that the stone jamb had been removed and replaced. It is possible that the stones complete with iron pivots, were reused to make the surround for the N arched window. The odd unmatched stones around the N window were already in situ by the 1894 photograph as the iron pivot can be seen in the photograph. It is possible that the door widening (and possibly the insertion or changing of the windows) was done to change a former tack or feed store at this end into a bothy for the grooms or coachman. The map evidence suggests that all this work may have been done before 1847. The ironwork and design of the stalls is similar to that used in mid 19th century stable refits such as the work done at Balmoral in 1857.

The 1901 work may have included the conversion of the coach house into a garage and the interior fitting of the N end of the building into the chauffeur’s house. Cars first appeared in Scotland in the 1890’s and by c1900 would have been fairly common among wealthy country house owners so the suggested conversion seems far more probable than a refit of the stables for their original function. The central portion however probably continued in use for riding horses. The N room of the stables, or chauffeur’s cottage as it became (now used as a garden office), comprises a stall entrance lobby opening into two rooms, each lined in pitch pine. The W room had a fireplace against the back wall, a corner cupboard in the NE corner and another cupboard by the window in the S wall. The E room has a corner cupboard in the NE corner and another cupboard against the outer wall. This work would have been done by Charles Edward Norman Leith-Hay after he inherited in 1900.

(LEI06 099)

Information from NTS (SCS) November 2013


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