Skirling House was built in 1908 and is described in “The Buildings of Scotland” as “the highly personal and unique result of collaboration between Sir Thomas Gibson-Carmichael (later Lord Carmichael) and his architect Ramsay Traquair” (son of the well known artist Phoebe Anna Traquair). Carmichael had originally sought to build a large Lorimer designed Baronial style house north of the village, but the money to build it ran out after the failure of a quarry he owned. Instead he acquired a farmhouse by the village green in Skirling, which he comprehensively remodeled. The result was, as Lady Carmichael observed, “most comfortable though a most unconventional house”. The style of the house is described as in the English Domestic tradition, with Arts and Crafts details. The differently shaped roofs sweep down over the eaves with prominent square bay windows, and with brick-lined horizontal weatherboarding on the north and west fronts.
The house is particularly noteworthy for its “important, and mostly humorous” collection of decorative wrought ironwork jointly designed by Carmichael and Traquair and executed by Thomas Hadden, in whose forge Carmichael had learned practical ironwork. The iron rail on the side of the house is decorated with a selection of creatures, including dragons and a gentleman in a top hat. Inside the house, the use of ironwork extends to doors and windows, handles, light fittings and even radiator covers.
The house is essentially domestic in character, though with some fine chimneypieces. The most spectacular room is the Drawing Room, which was built to display a 16th Century Italian ceiling which Lord Carmichael acquired in Italy, and had originally installed in his previous residence, nearby Castlecraig House. Each compartment of the ceiling contains a single different carved rose. It is complimented by a full-length wall cabinet by Scarselli of Florence, complete with trompe l’oeil decoration.
Since buying the house in 1993, we have returned it to its original use as a place of comfort and relaxation, and have decorated the house with what our guests have told us is a “wittily eclectic” selection of paintings and drawings. When it comes to books – not only is there a fully stocked library, but each bedroom also has a selection of books. In all, we think there are enough books in the house to satisfy even the most omnivorous of readers.
All quotes from The Buildings of Scotland