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Ardkinglas House, Cairndow, Argyll: unexecuted designs to rebuild the house for Sir James Campbell (formerly Livingstone), 1773 (5)

Signed and dated

  • 1773


James Livingstone (c1719-88) was the eldest surviving son of Sir James Livingstone, 2nd Baronet of Glentirran and Dalderse, and Helen Campbell, daughter of Sir James Campbell, 2nd Baronet of Ardkinglas, a member of a junior branch of the family of the Duke of Argyll. He was an army officer, and also served as MP (Whig) for Stirlingshire in 1747-68, and Governor of Stirling Castle in 1763-88. He succeeded his maternal grandfather to the Ardkinglas estate in 1752 and at that time he took the name Campbell. He succeeded his father as 3rd Baronet of Glentirran in 1771.

The Ardkinglas estate came into the ownership of the Campbell family in the fourteenth century. This included a medieval castle on a site near to the current house, but by the eighteenth century this castle was in a ruinous condition. In 1729 Sir James’s grandfather had commissioned designs for rebuilding the castle from Colen Campbell (1676-29). Campbell’s scheme was not executed, but two drawings showing a design based on Palladio’s Villa Emo survive within the collection at Inveraray Castle. In 1773 Sir James commissioned Robert Adam to make designs for rebuilding the castle. The surviving drawings at Sir John Soane's Museum show a relatively modest scheme, but this too was unexecuted.

It is not known how Sir James was acquainted with Robert Adam. It may have been through their mutual acquaintance: Adam’s friend, and Sir James’s relative, Lord Frederick Campbell, a son of the 4th Duke of Argyll, and Adam’s patron at Ardencaple, Argyll from 1762; Petersham Lodge, Richmond at an unknown date; Combe Bank, Kent from 1767; and the General Register House, Edinburgh from 1772. Irrespective of this, in 1764 Sir James was a subscriber to Adam’s publication, Ruins of the palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro in Dalmatia.

The medieval castle at Ardkinglas was finally replaced by Sir Alexander Campbell, 4th Baronet in c1795 to designs by an unknown architect. This house was destroyed by fire in 1831, when the stable block – possible built to designs by James Playfair (1755-94) – was converted to serve as a replacement. The castle was not rebuilt again until the twentieth century. In 1905 Sir Andrew Noble purchased the estate and commissioned designs for the house from Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer (1864-1929). Lorimer’s house remains in the possession of the descendants of Sir Andrew Noble.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 2, 65; F. Arneil Walker, The buildings of Scotland: Argyll and Bute, 2000, p. 114’ ‘Campbell (formerly Livingstone), James (?1719-88), of Ardkinglas, Argyll, and Glentirran, Stirling’, History of Parliament online

Frances Sands, 2014



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Contents of Ardkinglas House, Cairndow, Argyll: unexecuted designs to rebuild the house for Sir James Campbell (formerly Livingstone), 1773 (5)