A remarkable house created by a remarkable Victorian.
The Hermitage is set in arguably the finest location on the Isle of Bute, surrounded by magnificent mature gardens which extend to about 5 acres. It takes full advantage of the beautiful sea views over the Firth of Clyde towards the Ayrshire coast.
An outstandingly beautiful and historic island, Bute is situated at the heart of the Firth of Clyde, off Scotlands verdant west coast. The island possesses areas of great scenic beauty and has been a popular holiday destination since Victorian times. Due to its proximity to the Gulf Stream, the island enjoys a particularly mild climate and it has become known as the Madeira of Scotland. Rothesay is about 4 miles from The Hermitage. The town has a population of approximately 5000 with an extensive range of amenities including primary and secondary schooling, shopping, a hospital, swimming pool, sports centre and golf course.
Regular ferries (Caledonian MacBrayne) operate from Rothesay to Wemyss Bay (35 mins) and Glasgow city centre and the international airport can generally be reached in under an hour from Wemyss Bay. Wemyss Bay has a direct train link to the city centre. A second ferry from Rhubodach, in the north of the island, to Colintraive allows easy access to Argyll and the West Highlands.
The Isle of Bute also offers wonderful hill and coastal walks, 3 golf clubs sea fishing and trout fishing.
Owing to the islands superb location in the Firth of Clyde, with Arran to the south and marinas at Troon, Gourock, Largs, Inverkip and Rhu on the mainland, Bute is an extremely popular sailing destination.
Historical and Architectural Note
The Hermitage was originally a school with adjoining schoolmasters house, It is thought to date from the 1830s and was substantially altered and extended in the 1880s by Edward La Trobe Bateman, a remarkable individual who was, in the course of a long and varied life, an architect, book illustrator, gold miner, painter and landscape designer. He was an intimate in the early 1850s of pre-Raphaelite artists such as John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti; the latter lived for some months with Bateman in his rented house in Highgate, London. As well as designing rustic furniture and undertaking illustration commissions, Bateman worked on the Fine Arts Court of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851. In 1853 he set sail for the gold fields of Victoria in Australia. He became a renowned artist, illustrator and landscape designer, and is believed to have laid out the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, amongst others. An accident in 1867, which paralysed his right hand (he then taught himself to draw with his left hand), and ensuing lawsuits prompted his return to Britain.
In 1869 Bateman took up permanent residence on Bute, having been appointed landscape gardener to the 3rd Marquess of Bute at Mount Stuart. Around 1885 he leased the school and schoolhouse at Kerracroy from the Marquess of Bute and set about remodelling it as a private residence. He renamed it The Hermitage after his London home. The house is described in the notes to its Category C listing description by Historic Scotland as an interesting house with a mass of eclectic detailing … extensive half-timbering, varying roof levels, ball-finialed octagonal caps … gabled entrances, timber bracketed verandah and terracotta ridge detailing. An unusual style in its Scottish context, but relatively common within the confines of Mount Stuart. In addition to his work at Mount Stuart, which included interiors, Bateman worked on the gardens at Ascog House and Ascog Hall, where he is believed to have designed the exceptional fernery. He created a fine garden around The Hermitage with extensive lawns and numerous ornamental shrubs and trees, many of which survive to this day. Bateman died at The Hermitage in 1897, aged 82.
A tarmacadam driveway lined by a wide array of rhododendrons, chestnuts and magnolias leads up to the east side of the house and round to a generous parking sweep and the main entrance, on the north side of the house.
The entrance door opens to a reception hall with beautiful herringbone parquet flooring, timber panelling and a panelled timber ceiling with a cupola. An arched opening leads to the two principal reception rooms. The drawing room is a magnificent room of grand proportions. It has a vaulted ceiling, a carved timber fire surround with an open fire, and two bay windows The bay window to the front looks over the beautifully kept front lawns to the Firth of Clyde. The medieval themed dining room is perhaps the most notable feature of The Hermitages interiors. It has a wonderful hammerbeam ceiling painted with medieval motifs, a minstrels gallery, ornate carved timber columns and an open fireplace The open plan kitchen and breakfast room is exceptionally spacious and has a vaulted ceiling. The kitchen has a fine range of quality hand made painted timber base and wall mounted units with hardwood worktops and built in appliances including substantial fridge and dishwasher. A freestanding four oven cream Aga serves as a division between the kitchen and the breakfast room. French windows from the breakfast room lead out to a terracotta tiled verandah and the front garden. Opening off the kitchen, the sitting room is a light and well proportioned room with a bay window to the front and two further windows angled across the corners of the room either side of the fireplace It has similar carved columns to the dining room and a panelled timber ceiling. To the rear of the reception hall, overlooking the front garden, is a double bedroom with Junkers hardwood flooring and en suite shower room. Off the hall are a butlers pantry with its original cupboards and a cloakroom with wc. The ground floor accommodation is completed by a laundry room adjacent to the back door and a contemporary bathroom with bath and steam shower.
A handsome staircase leads to the first floor. There are four bedrooms on this floor, three of which have views over the gardens and beyond to the Firth of Clyde and the Ayrshire coast. The principal bedroom has a delicate Arts and Crafts fireplace and en suite shower room with steam shower. The three remaining bedrooms are served by a bathroom and a separate wc. One bedroom has a large dressing room and three of the four have fireplaces.
The outstanding gardens which surround The Hermitage are largely as laid out by Bateman. They are maintained to a very high standard and are a credit to the current owners. Well sheltered by mature trees, the gardens boast extensive lawns and numerous rhododendrons, magnolias, eucalyptus trees, palms and firs.
To the west side of the property there is a former croquet lawn with a (not circular)summer house. To the front of the house is a hexagonal barbeque hut, designed in a similar style, with seating for 14. Within the cultivated area of garden to the east of the house there is a heated Victorian greenhouse and potting sheds. There are also, garages and stores near the house. A burn flows gently through the east side of the property.
The Hermitage and the summerhouse in the garden are listed Category C by Historic Scotland.
Travel west on the M8 to Greenock and then continue on the A78 to Wemyss Bay. Take the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Rothesay (35 minutes). On arrival at Rothesay Ferry Terminal, drive south along the A844 passing through Rothesay and into Ascog. Follow the coastal road with the entrance to The Hermitage on the right hand side just south of Ascog and before Kerracroy Bay. The postcode is PA20 9LN and satellite navigation will lead directly to the main entrance.
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