Adam’s designs, dating to c1784, were made for one Alexander Boswell (alternatively spelt Boswall), a descendant of the Hume family. Little is known of Boswell, although Adam notes him to be a very rich man of independent means, as well as a bachelor. Studying the tax rolls from 1787-1791 we can see the household was of a fair size, with four male servants (a Butler, Footman, Groom and Gardener) and four female servants (a Housekeeper, Chambermaid, Cook and Dairymaid). The house to which Adam’s scheme relates was thought to have been originally built around 1764, possibly incorporating part of an earlier medieval structure in the process. Adam’s designs propose a number of alterations with the aim of regularizing the overall plan with additions to the front and side elevations. They propose the construction of additional square corner turrets to the north, matching the existing turrets to the south, along with a new principal south-facing façade, formed from a raised, Ionic pediment with rustication on the ground storey. The scheme also proposed a number of service rooms and offices to be included in an additional wing to the east. As the house was demolished in 1925, it is difficult to ascertain whether Adam’s scheme was ever executed, although according to the local Dunse historical society the designs were indeed carried out, along with extensive alterations by John Lessels in the 1850’s.
The RIBA holds a number of drawings for Blackadder House and estate, including finished drawings from the Adam office which directly relate to this scheme. There are also a number of earlier drawings including survey drawings and plans by the architect John Paterson dating to 1777, alongside a scheme for extensive alterations to exteriors and interiors by James Playfair (1782). These earlier designs appear not to have been executed when compared to Adam’s survey drawing dating to c1784 (SM Adam volume 32/86).
Following the demolition of the house remains of the Blackadder estate are still evident in a number of late eighteenth-century buildings which survive, including a two-storey summer house of a hexagonal plan, a stable range with a central clock tower, a walled garden, and the Blackadder cottage.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam , 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 3, 63; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam & unbuilt Adam , 2001, Volume II, pp. 11, 122; K. Cruft, J. Dunbar, R. Fawcett, The Buildings of Scotland: Borders, 2006, pp. 101-102, 122-123; www.architecture.com; www.dunsehistorysociety.co.uk/blackadderhouse; www.flodden.net; www.flodden1513ecomuseum.org; www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk (accessed July 2018)
Anna McAlaney, 2018
Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).