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Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire: perspective sketch of the castle from the southwest, ND (1)


Fyvie Castle was originally built in the thirteenth century. It was bought by William Gordon (1679-1745), 2nd Earl of Aberdeen, in 1733 and inherited by his son, William Gordon (1736-1816), of Fyvie, in 1745. Gordon attended Glasgow University, went on the grand tour in 1764 and on his return, combined a career in the army with a seat in the House of Commons. He sat as MP for Woodstock, Oxfordshire and Heytesbury, Wiltshire and was also Groom of the Bedchamber from 1775 to 1812. Gordon was reputedly favoured by George III who chose him to raise a new regiment and gave him its command as full colonel. He defended the House of Commons during the Gordon Riots, led by his nephew Lord George Gordon. He died in 1816 and the condition of Fyvie Castle was described by his son as ‘in a state of great dilapidation’.

This perspective sketch of Castle Fyvie by the Adam office is undated, however, Emerson proposes that it might relate to the alterations made to the castle between 1770-93 when the north and east wings were demolished and the Gordon Tower was built. He suggests that Adam might have been consulted by Gordon in 1789 whilst on tour with John Clerk of Eldin.

The drawing is a sketched perspective of the building and provides a possible record of the castle prior to the addition of the Gordon Tower. This sketch reveals the simple, symmetrical elevation of the west front but does also include inconsistencies on the south front including the omission of the pepper-pot roofs on the bartizans on the corner turrets, and a pedimented aedicule which has been drawn over the central gable.

Literature: A.T. Bolton, The Architecture of Robert and James Adam, Volume II, Index, 1922, p. 6; R. Emerson, 'Robert Adam and John Clerk of Eldin, From Primitive Hut to Temple of Religion' in I. Gow (ed.), Scottish Country Houses 1600-1914, 1998, p. 171; D. Walker, Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire: North & Moray, 2015, pp. 217-231; J. Egerton, ‘Gordon, William, of Fyvie (1736-1816), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online [accessed 24 August 2023]

Louisa Catt, 2023



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Contents of Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire: perspective sketch of the castle from the southwest, ND (1)