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Buchanan House, Drymen, Stirling: unexecuted designs for a house for the 2nd Duke of Montrose, c1764(?) (5)

Signed and dated

  • c1764


Buchanan Castle was built by the Buchanan clan in the thirteenth century. It was purchased by the 1st Duke of Montrose in 1682 who demolished the medieval castle in favour of a new house in 1724. The house was built in an arrangement typical of that date, being bisected by a longitudinal corridor. The 2nd Duke of Montrose commissioned John Adam (1721-92), the older brother of Robert and James, to make alterations to the house and garden in 1751. William Graham, 2nd Duke of Montrose (1712-90), had succeeded to his father's dukedom in 1742, and in the same year he married Lady Lucy Manners (d1788), daughter of John, 2nd Duke of Rutland. He was Chancellor of Glasgow University in 1743-80, but did not involve himself in politics.

There are five drawings for alterations to Buchanan Castle, and as these drawings survive in the Adam drawings collection at Sir John Soane's Museum the involvement of Robert and/or James, as well as John Adam, with the works for the 2nd Duke at Buchanan House is possible. Therefore it is likely that the London and Edinburgh Adam offices were working in collaboration during John's employment there, at any date between Robert's return from Italy in 1758, and 1789, when alterations were commissioned from James Playfair. It is worthy of note that King has suggested a possible date of 1764 for these unexecuted designs, but there is no firm evidence for this.

Later, in 1789, the 3rd Duke commissioned James Playfair (1755-94) to make further alterations, but the Georgian house was destroyed by fire in 1850. A new house was built by the 4th Duke in 1854-58 to designs by William Burn (1789-1870), only for this house also to suffer a fire in 1954. The interior was gutted and the house remains a ruin. The estate was sold in 1925, and what survives of the service wing is now occupied by a golf club.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 5, 81; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, p. 123; J. Gifford, and F.A. Walker, The buildings of Scotland: Stirling and Central Scotland, 2002, p. 290

Frances Sands, 2012



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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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.

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Contents of Buchanan House, Drymen, Stirling: unexecuted designs for a house for the 2nd Duke of Montrose, c1764(?) (5)