Despite being forever associated with two unrelated 20th-century events-the controversial Chinook helicopter crash that killed 29 senior army and security personnel from Northern Ireland in 1994, and Paul McCartney’s irritating pop song of 1977-the beautiful Mull of Kintyre, at the tip of Argyll’s Kintyre peninsula, is one of the most peaceful parts of western Scotland. Last week, it hit the headlines again, following the announcement by Strutt& Parker (0131-226 2500) that the spectacular, 7,362-acre Carskiey estate with its nine miles of spectacular coastline that make up the Mull of Kintyre, was for sale at a guide price of ‘offers over £2.95 million’.
Previously known as Carskey, the estate was the seat of the MacNeills of Carskey, a Kintyre family originally from Gigha, who held the lands from the early 16th century until the early 1900s, when it was bought by James Boyd from Paisley and his wife, Katharine, daughter of wealthy industrialist Thomas Coats of Viyella fame. In 1903, the Boyds commissioned the architect J. A. Rennison to design a new, 19,580sq ft mansion house overlooking Carskey Bay, the third house to be built on the site over the years. Carskiey House, listed Category B, has five reception rooms, nine principal bedrooms, five secondary bedrooms and five main bathrooms. It took the best part of seven years to complete, and involved a veritable army of builders, plasterers, plumbers, electricians, painters, craftsmen and handymen, whose lives were bedevilled by the alterations demanded by Mrs Boyd, for whom the very best was only barely good enough.
The size and layout of the house-and the confusion caused by Mrs Boyd’s frequent changes of mind-are evoked by Una A. Robertson in her insightful booklet on the building of the new mansion. A hefty bill for £2 13s 2d-the equivalent of two weeks’ wages for the estate’s new gamekeeper-was charged by one contractor for ‘shifting wardrobe from South Hall to Cloakroom, carrying carpets to dining room and back to upper floor, shifting furniture from Drawing Room to South Hall, shifting furniture from South Hall to various positions in main hall, carrying up corner cupboard to Miss Coats’ room, shifting furniture from South Hall for floor cleaning, taking to pieces and shifting oak cabinet to workroom, shifting table from billiard room to corridor and refitting oak cabinet in upper corridor, shifting furniture out of Library and lifting boarding and matting of stairs and corridors’.
Boyd was a successful breeder and exhibitor of heavy horses, and an avid collector of pictures and books, many of which still line the bookshelves at Carskiey. He died in 1915, followed in 1928 by his widow, after which the estate passed to various family members until September 1948, when it was sold, lock, stock and barrel, including the fixtures, fittings and furniture in the main house, which still looks much as it did when it was first built.
Current owners Marion and Susan Brown, whose late father bought the estate as a holiday retreat in 1964, have continued to maintain the status quo. They have used the main house for family holidays while running the estate’s profitable mixed arable and livestock enterprise on modern lines. But with their children grown up and one of the sisters now living in southern Africa, they find that they no longer use the estate as much as they would like. The sale includes five estate houses and cottages, four houses and cottages in need of repair, modern and traditional buildings, and, hidden behind massive studded doors, a magnificent Edwardian stable courtyard designed for the horses and carriages of the day.
The history of Terpersie Castle at Tullynessle, a few miles north of Alford in Aberdeenshire, is more dramatic. A delightful small laird’s house built on a miniature Z-plan by William Gordon in 1561, Terpersie sits in a deep glen on the south side of the Correen Hills. Gordon played his part in the troubles of the day, fighting in numerous battles. In 1645, the castle was burnt down by the Covenanting army under Gen Baillie. In 1745, the last laird, Charles Gordon, was hiding out after the defeat at Culloden when he was found by government troops. Thinking he was merely a vagrant, they took him down to Terpersie, where one of his children unwittingly betrayed him, calling out ‘Daddy’ as he was led in. He was duly hanged at Carlisle on November 15, 1746. The castle passed to the Gordons of Knockespock and was used as a farmhouse until 1885, after which it fell into total decay.
Terpersie was a ruined shell when its present owner, an industrialist from the South, bought the castle as a Scottish retreat some 20 years ago, and painstakingly restored it to its original splendour, using surviving pictorial records as a guide. Compact and comfortable, the house has accommodation on three floors, including two reception rooms, a circular laird’s room, three bedrooms and two bathrooms, set in 3.7 acres of sweeping lawns surrounded by woodland. But the time for family holidays has passed, and Terpersie is for sale through Knight Frank (0131-222 9600) at a guide price of £595,000.
The birds are flying at Dungarthill
At the start of the new pheasant-shooting season, the birds are already flying high on the tranquil Dungarthill estate at Dunkeld, Perthshire. Also on the move are its sporting Dutch owners, who bought the scenic, 927-acre holding in a fairly rundown state some 15 years ago, transforming it into one of Scotland’s leading shooting and stalking estates. But now it’s time to downsize, and Dungarthill is for sale for ‘offers over £8m’ through CKD Galbraith (01738 451111).
At the heart of the estate sits Dungarthill House, a striking late-Victorian mansion house built in 1886 by a prosperous jute manufacturer from Dundee. The present owners have completely overhauled the house, discreetly installing modern comforts while retaining its traditional character. It boasts an impressive long hall, three fine reception rooms, a billiard room, a breakfast room, 10 bedrooms, six bath/shower rooms and extensive service rooms.
Secluded private gardens, screened by magnificent specimen trees from the rest of the estate, include large areas of lawn, with a pretty formal garden bounded by colourful banks of rhododendrons. The pheasant shooting at Dungarthill is legendary, providing two day shoots with shooting parties staying in the house. The estate also offers a variety of other game birds, including partridge, duck, snipe and woodcock, with opportunities for fallow and roe deer stalking on the high ground, and trout-fishing on Dunmore Loch.
A productive in-hand stock farm and a profitable holiday business with five letting cottages help to swell the estate coffers. A further nine estate houses and cottages offer further scope for development.
In common with many sporting estates, Dungarthill has its own tweed, the rights to which will be included in the sale.