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12 Apr 2022

Amazing spaces across Scotland

A view of the grand front exterior of Holmwood. It is a sandstone building, with columns and classical motifs. A large gravel area lies in front of the house.
Holmwood, Glasgow
Our expert teams discuss some of the most stunning and fascinating rooms in our castles and historic buildings across Scotland.

Drawing Room – The Georgian House

Edinburgh

It isn’t hard to image candlelight flickering off the gilt furniture, mirrors and bejewelled guests in the drawing room of the impressive Georgian House in Edinburgh’s New Town.

‘Its size and position meant the drawing room was used for formal evening entertaining. As the most impressive room in the home, the large windows radiated wealth and beauty to perambulators on Charlotte Square,’ says Trust regional curator Antonia Laurence-Allen.

This room certainly has the Bridgerton factor, though Antonia says the luxurious appearance hid the reality of the Lamont family’s mounting debts.

No. 7 Charlotte Square was on the north side, the first and only part of the square built to Robert Adam’s original 1791 designs. It was purchased in 1796 by John Lamont, a Chief of the Argyllshire Lamont Clan. He and his wife Amelia had five children, including three daughters who were 20, 18 and 14 when they first took residence in the fashionable New Town. 

‘The house was useful for entertaining and being ‘seen’ in society – a crucial element in securing a successful marriage,’ adds Antonia.

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The Drawing Room, Georgian House

Drawing Room – Holmwood

Cathcart, Glasgow

Holmwood’s drawing room is unlike any other interior from the 1850s. Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s distinctive design for the room continues his architectural ideas, with a similar group of motifs used both inside and outside the house.

From carvings in the woodwork and the marble fireplace to plaster on the ceiling, it gives the impression of a truly unified scheme. The bold, rich colours are full of detail and the delicate stencil work shows the fine craftsmanship the architect could call upon.

‘What stands out is the amount of gilding that’s used – it’s an incredibly rich interior,’ says Trust curator Emma Inglis. ‘Given that this would have been the main public room, it’s a real in-your-face statement of what the Couper family, who commissioned the house, were able to afford, and the status they had achieved.’

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The Drawing Room, Holmwood | Photo by Dougie Cunningham

Library – Hill of Tarvit Mansion

Kingdom of Fife

Look up at the ceiling in the library at Hill of Tarvit Mansion and it might seem familiar. It was inspired by Scottish 17th century plaster ceilings found at Kellie Castle, House of the Binns and Craigievar Castle, and designed by Robert Lorimer, the most prominent architect of his day.

Hill of Tarvit was remodelled by Lorimer between 1904 and 1907 for the owners, Frederick Sharp and his wife Beatrice. The library was likely used as a winter sitting room; it is warm and cosy with spaces to write letters, play games, sew and read. 

‘The room was designed to complement their Georgian furniture and features large French doors that open to the south-facing terrace,’ explains Trust regional curator Antonia Laurence Allen.

‘The library provides a fantastic view of the golf course laid out for Frederick. He and his brothers were involved with The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews; they sat on the rules committee to help set standards for the game as it grew in popularity.’ 

The paintings are part of the Sharps’ large art collection and include works by Allan Ramsay and Sir Henry Raeburn; one portrait of note by Raeburn is of Margaret Bruce, who inherited Falkland Palace.

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The Library, Hill of Tarvit Mansion

Drawing room – The Hill House

Helensburgh

The Hill House drawing room is one of the most completely designed rooms by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald, and, while the overall concept is extraordinary, it’s the details that take the breath away.

‘All of the pieces of furniture have beautiful architectural qualities, but it’s the small elements that catch the eye,’ says Trust curator Emma Inglis. ‘You get a bold first impression, then it draws you in for a closer look at the fine materials used.’

Saving these superb interiors is why we’ve built a giant mesh box around the house, to protect it while it dries out after decades of damaging dampness.

Mackintosh designed the house for publisher Walter Blackie, who moved in in 1904. This room initially had only a couple of pieces of furniture designed by Mackintosh and Macdonald. ‘Over a period of four or five years, more pieces were commissioned, to the point where we have the furnishings we see today, including Margaret’s beautiful gesso panel over the fireplace.’

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The drawing room at the Hill House looking towards the fireplace. Next to the fireplace is an upholstered settle; also in the room is an upholstered armchair and a small table.
The Drawing Room, The Hill House

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