The 3rd Earl was the fourth son of the 2nd Earl. He had a mercantile career in London, until - following the deaths of his brothers - he succeeded his father in 1755. Following this he served in the House of Lords as a Scottish representative peer in 1768-84. In 1764 he had married Susan Ward (d 1771), the sister and heiress of Sir Randal Ward, 6th Baronet of Bixley, Norfolk, and in 1775 he married again, Mary Vincent (d 1823), the daughter of Sir Francis Vincent, 7th Baronet of Stoke D’Abernon, Surrey. Primrose family tradition links Rosebery's patronage of Adam with his courtship of Mary Vincent in 1774, the year before their marriage. According to Rowan, the extant Adam drawings for Barnbougle support the idea that these designs were made to impress Mary Vincent, being 'more for show than as the basis for a real building programme', owing to the lack of survey drawings, or plans for the upper storeys. This, however, is inconclusive as, despite its size, the Adam drawings collection at Sir John Soane's Museum is far from comprehensive.
Adam produced two close variant schemes for enlarging Barnbougle, with the older, sixteenth-century tower at the apex of a triangular plan. The first scheme is represented in six Adam drawings within the Rosebery collection, comprising two plans and four elevations, and the second scheme in the drawings collection at Sir John Soane's Museum. The design was beautifully described by Stephen Astley as having 'embodied all the essential characteristics of Adam's castle style with its triangular plan, picturesque skyline and inventive massing'. However, Adam's scheme was not executed.
Repairs were made to Barnbougle in 1789-91 by the carpenter, James Salisbury (ND), whom Adam had sent from London in 1774 to supervise the construction of the Edinburgh Register House. However, Adam is not thought to have been involved with these works. By 1814, Barnbougle was considerably dilapidated, and it was replaced as the principal Rosebery seat by Dalmeny House, built in 1814-17 on a nearby site by the 4th Earl, and to designs by William Wilkins (1778-1839). Dalmeny remains the seat of the Earls of Rosebery. The ruins of Barnbougle were accdentally partly demolished with explosives in 1829, and henceforth provided a ruinous folly. In 1881, these ruins were used as the basis for a new house in the Baronial style by the 5th Earl, to designs by James Maitland Wardrop (1823-82) and James Reid (1828-83), and this survives as part of the Dalmeny estate.
A wooden model of Adam's unexecuted scheme for Barnbougle - as shown in the extant drawings at Sir John Soane's Museum - was made in 1996 by George Rome Innes and James Wink, and exhibited at Sir John Soane's Museum in Robert Adam's castles (2000).
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 3, 86; A.A. Tait, 'Robert Adam's Picturesque architecture', Burlington Magazine, June 1981, p. 421; A. Rowan, Designs for castles and country villas by Robert Adam, 1985, pp. 15, 98-101; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy: 1701-1800, 1997, p. 822; S. Astley, Robert Adam's castle's, 2000, p. 27; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume 2, pp. 138, 151-56, 161; C. Mosley (ed.), Burke's peerage, baronetage & knightage, 2003, p. 3398-99; 'Barnbougle Castle, City of Edinburgh', British listed buildings online
Frances Sands, 2014
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).
Contents of Barnbougle Castle, Dalmeny, West Lothian: unexecuted designs for enlarging the house for Neil Primrose, 3rd Earl of Rosebery, 1774 (12)
- Preliminary design for the house, c1774, unexecuted (1)
- Preliminary designs, designs and finished drawing for the house, 1774, unexecuted (10)
- Preliminary design for a gateway or triumphal arch, c1774, unexecuted (1)