Tillycorthie is the Aberdeenshire mansion of a former tin magnate with a magnificent central atrium that must be seen. Phoebe Bath takes a look.
Oh, Aberdeenshire! Home to the Cairngorms and Balmoral Castle, who can resist its cultural richness? With a haven of wildlife on its doorstep, Aberdeenshire provides the perfect abode for bird-spotting, hiking, or simply being the ultimate flâneur.
If you are on the lookout for a property in which you can indulge in a host of local activities, then Tillycorthie, located near the village of Udny some 11 miles north of Aberdeen, will tick a lot of boxes. It’s a recently-restored country gem that could work as a home or possibly as a commercial venture, sitting as it does within nine acres of grounds.
This country house, somewhat reminiscent of a Spanish villa, is interesting for its atypical structure – notably in its design, form and material. There is extensive use of concrete, unusual in a house of this size, coupled with classic Scots Baronial details. That combination saw it described by architectural writer Ian Shepherd as a “bewildering amalgam of the high-tech and the sub-baronial” in his book on the architecture of this area.
No element of the home demonstrates that more than the feature at the centre: a glazed courtyard atrium, filled with all sorts of tropical greenery that makes you feel just a little like you’ve wandered into a botanic garden glasshouse.
The house was constructed in 1911 for James Rollo Duncan, a Bolivian tin magnate and partner of Penny & Duncan Bolivia, Tillycorthie was one of the first concrete mansions to be built anywhere in Britain.
During the Second World War the Duncan family moved to Orkney before returning to Tillycorthie a few years later, in May 1942, and then finally moving to Aberdeen.
Upon entering the property, a sense of splendour is at once induced; natural light floods the first reception room through the pitched cantilever style glass room, which acts as the canopy to this rainforest-inspired vestibule.
Beautifully-polished parquet floors, panelled doors and cornicing are in profusion: at its eastern extremity, the corridor leads into a meticulously carved library, complete with ornate glass fronted display cases.
The large dining room befits the image of charming country estate, along with a generously sized kitchen and extensive range of bespoke cabinets, bordered by granite work surfaces. Luxury appliances include those by Wolf, Sub-zero, Siemens and Fischer and Paykel.
A sweeping staircase joins the ground floor to the second, opening up onto a selection of large suites. The master bedroom, located in the east wing, embraces light and size; bay and side windows accentuate streams of light, and the double-ended bath, en suite dressing room and walk in shower cater for every need. Further rooms include the Purple Room and the Chinese Room, the latter ornamented by a corner bath and separate shower.
In the opposite west wing can be found the principal bedroom, with a rear bay window and en suite shower room. The west wing offers the ideal space for independent and multi-generational living, aided by a further bedroom, butler’s bedroom, butler’s kitchen and an informal sitting room – “cosy” – and bathroom.
The entire lower level provides a diverse space and remains partially above the ground to enjoy the most of the natural light.
In keeping with the abundance of facilities throughout the property, the ground floor is well equipped with a catering kitchen, large storage room, a refrigeration and freezer room, as well as a magnificent 3,000 bottle capacity wine cellar.
Two Seismic rooms, historically used for academic purpose by university students are untouched with their five original Seismic tables. A gym and bedroom/office complete this floor, with a stuning spiral staircase, winding from the east wing, snakes its way skyward.
Extending onto the external tower space, a roof top terrace provides a magnificent vista which itself glorifies the restored Tillycorthie Mansion House, proffering views that span for miles across unspoiled Aberdeenshire countryside.
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