The Craig

By Montrose, Angus, DD10 9TB
£1,570,000   Guide price (£1,570,000 )

Description

One of the most historic houses in Scotland

Location

The Craig is situated just to the south of Montrose Basin and Nature Reserve, renowned for its wide variety of migratory bird life, tidal changes and spectacular sunsets. The River South Esk flows into the Basin and out into the North Sea. Within the heart of agricultural Angus, the Basin is surrounded by hills and rolling farmland as well as the hiker's paradise of the Angus Glens to the north reaching the Grampians; its hill walking is among the finest in Scotland. The Angus coast includes popular sandy beaches including Montrose, Lunan Bay and St Cyrus and also historic ruins, red sandstone cliffs and beautiful vistas and landmarks.

Nearby and inland, a sportsman's paradise exists in the form of golf, including courses at Montrose, Brechin, Edzell, with the championship courses of Carnoustie, Gleneagles and St Andrews within easy reach, as well as some of the finest shooting and fishing in Scotland.

Excellent roads and train services place Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Perth and points to the north and south, accessible and easy. Montrose is well served by various train services, with connections throughout the United Kingdom, and a good direct service to London. Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports have a range of domestic, European and international flights while Dundee connects to London Stansted and to Amsterdam.

Nearby Montrose is an historic port, once one of Scotland's principal ports of entry. Trading dates back many centuries. The town provides comprehensive shopping for provisions, a monthly farmer's market with local producers and vendors and all the other services inherent in an active town. There is a good library, NHS practice, gymnasium and leisure facilities, an active tennis club as well as an annual music festival.

Montrose has a secondary school and at nearby Johnshaven, Lathallan is a well-regarded private school. Further private schooling is possible at Dundee High School, as well as Robert Gordon's College, The Albyn and St. Margaret's School in Aberdeen, which are all available on a daily commuting basis, by car or train. Other schools in the general vicinity are St Leonard's in St Andrews, Glenalmond and Strathallan.

HISTORICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL NOTE

The Craig, also known as Craig Castle or Craig House is one of the oldest properties in Scotland with a fascinating and diverse history as well as having been continuously occupied throughout its existence with records dating from the 13th century.

In “1535, James Beaton, Archbishop of St. Andrews granted the lands of Craig together with…the tower and fortalice built on them…to David Wood, one of James V's closest advisors and later his Comptroller and Coroner of the shires of Forfar and Kincardine… Archbishop John Spottiswood granted them to James Carnegie (in 1620)... son of David, Lord Carnegie (later, first Earl of Southesk).” (James Gifford, Buildings of Scotland, Dundee and Angus, Yale University Press, 2012).

Tradition claims that Sir James Douglas spent his final night in Scotland at The Craig protecting the heart of Robert Bruce, to transport it faithfully to the Holy Land in battle against the Saracens. On two occasions (1535 and 1539), visits by King James V are historically noted and Mary Queen of Scots is described as having visited and stayed twice at Craig Castle, the first visit during her initial Northern Progress. She may have set fire to the house during another visit believing it to be an enemy stronghold. Additionally, the Old Pretender is thought to have passed his final night at Craig Castle before departing into exile to France.

A long entry by Nigel Tranter in the Fortified House in Scotland (James Thin, 1986) describes the pleasing and high position of the castle overlooking the Basin and its “interesting and most unusual series of buildings of highly individual planning,” describing flanking drum towers protected by gun loops, sturdy and strong square 15th century towers as well as the high walls enclosing and protecting the courtyard.

In the book, Queen's Scotland, The Eastern Counties, (Hodder and Stoughton,) Tranter continues, “Craig House or Castle…is an exciting place…a most unusual complex…dating from the 15th and 17th centuries and later,” adding …” the composition is most picturesque with high curtain-walls, gunloops, parapets and crow-stepped gables.”

James Gifford also describes walling at The Craig as having “been partially rebuilt in harled brickwork in the late 18th century, probably for Hercules Ross who had made a fortune……during the American War of Independence…..The house's entrance in now in the west range”... with “a Georgian cantilevered stair. The principal first floor rooms are in the north range. At its west end is the drawing room.” The ceiling has a recent recreation of an original painted ceiling from the Scottish Renaissance of the 16th century, fragments of which were located in 1921 during restorative work and bearing the date of 1529. These fragments from Craig Castle are presently on display in the Museum of Scotland, as described by Michael Bath in the Renaissance Decorative Paintings of Scotland (2003). The creation of the present ceiling was designed and painted by the well-known American artist, Richard Jordan, who included all of the historical fragments in the design which includes birds and beasts, human figures and initials from the period.

The property and house have undergone significant restoration, improvements and modernization since in 1986, continuing through the stewardship of the present owners. Richard Jordan, an architectural and decorative artist-painter was also commissioned to oversee the colour plan and to execute two other friezes in the house. The dining room has a variety of extinct Scottish animals and the morning room has a decorative cornice.

Since 2003, the courtyard Victorian loggia has been renovated, the master bathroom has benefitted from a respectful modernization, a shower has been added and most of the utilities have been upgraded throughout. The kitchen has been improved with the addition of a second Aga, basin and cabinets while maintaining the feeling of a country kitchen. The boiler has been renewed, a fire alarm added along with careful rewiring of the property. Outside, the magnificent walled gardens have been enhanced, an old greenhouse refurbished in the lower gardens, as well as the addition of raised vegetable beds and a tool shed.

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Further Information

The Craig, a castellated house or castle, is situated within extensive grounds and gardens, 130 feet above the Montrose Basin. The approach, a tree-lined avenue leading to ancient, ivy covered drum towers, takes one through an arch in the 15th century curtain wall with an inscription, “qui s'y frotte s'y pique”. The drive leads into a courtyard around which the house and walls extend on three sides, the southwest wall hosting a Barbican tower with corbelled parapets. It is a dramatic, yet welcoming entrance. Unusually, the house sits in the middle of beautiful gardens affording special vistas throughout. As such every window in The Craig offers light and a view.

A carved loggia gives access to three of the four vaulted rooms upon which the longest and oldest section of the house rests. The entrance through the front door opens to a hall with stone flag floors and a cantilevered Georgian staircase to the left. To the right, is a breakfast room under the first tunnel-vaulted ceiling in the sequence with a fireplace and shuttered window looking out to the lower gardens. Off this room is the library with fitted bookshelves, stone vaulted ceiling, and a south-facing door leading outside. There are stone floors throughout the ground floor. Also off the entrance hall is a windowed boot/gun room and there is a cloakroom/bathroom with a full-length bath painted in the style of Magritte saying, “ceci n'est pas un bain écossais”.

The curving staircase leads to a first floor dado panelled landing. A morning room with stone fireplace, panelled windows and a painted decorative frieze with Celtic motif and Scottish thistle, all overlooking part of the upper garden. The drawing room has views of Montrose Basin through an 18th century Palladian window, walls panelled to dado height and includes a carved Adam fireplace while two wall lights from Charles Edwards flank each end of the room. An original oak door leads through to the dining room, with a door leading to the garden at the opposite end of the room. The outstanding feature of the drawing room is the ceiling, a recreation of a former ceiling at The Craig, painted during the Scottish Renaissance of the 16th century and as previously described. The original ceiling had been destroyed by fire.

Three further rooms encompass what was, at one time, a great hall. Off the drawing room is the dining room with the other decorative, painted frieze depicting extinct wild life from all periods of Scottish history. There is a gas fireplace in the room and a large window, again looking out to the lower gardens and further to the Basin and the hills. Next in the line, is a study/media/yoga room with a large Georgian window, a fireplace with mantel, fitted bookcases and an ancient door leading down an interior staircase to one of the vaulted rooms, being the former wine cellar of Sir David Wood, Chancellor and Comptroller to King James V. Off the study is an office with cornice, fitted bookshelves, fireplace with gas fire and mantle bearing a quote in Latin by Philo of Alexandria, from the 2nd century AD which means, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” A large window faces to the east with a small defensive window facing north. At the end of the first floor landing is a WC with thunder box and enclosed washbasin. Also, in the hall landing outside the dining room is an alcove with bay window overlooking the courtyard, originating in the Victorian period.

On the south side of the staircase is the kitchen with a hand painted floor in an Edwardian pattern. Marble topped cabinetry give ample storage and hand carved wooden surround encase a farmhouse sink, a Bosch dishwasher and storage cabinetry. There are two side by side midnight blue Agas. One is Kerosene driven with two ovens and burners, the other a four hob electric with two ovens. Above the larger Aga is a Delft tiled splash back. This is a farmhouse kitchen with ample space for seating, a clothes pulley for drying and large windows on either side with sills for plants and provender. Off the kitchen is a larder with wine fridge, fitted shelves and a linen cupboard. The pantry is timber lined with porcelain sink, fitted shelves and a large refrigerator.

The hanging staircase continues to the second floor landing where to the right is an impressive Tudor style panelled master bedroom with cast iron fireplace, original 18th century wooden Adam mantel and marbleized skirting boards. The room retains period details including wooden shutters, window seat hiding an original ‘loo' and shelved cupboard on one side, bookshelves and ladies built in desk or vanity with drawer on the other. A fitted timber lined dressing room is off the master bedroom in the Barbican Tower. Just outside the bedroom is the master bathroom with free standing painted bath with gilded feet, pedestal washbasin, WC, fitted cupboard and lighting by the Mariano Fortuny workshop. Returning to the landing, a door leads to another small hallway with recessed bookshelves and on to the further five bedrooms. Bedroom 2 has a picture rail, window seat and has been used as a dressing room. Bedroom 3 has a superb view of the basin, a French hanging cupboard on small wheels, cast iron fireplace with wooden mantel, fitted shelves and a small under eaves storage. It is known as the Mary, Queen of Scots room. Bedroom 4 has a fireplace, wooden mantel, shelved/hanging cupboard and a window looking onto the Basin with shelf. Bedroom 5 has a large window, two wall lights and picture light, while bedroom 6 has a cast iron fireplace with tiled surround and wooden mantel, large window, fitted shelves and hanging cupboard. At the end of the bedroom landing is a bathroom, with bath, washbasin and WC. The adjacent shower room, has a tiled shower cubicle with animal motifs, washbasin, WC with thunder box and a shelved cupboard.

Outside, the wine cellar, which is accessed from the courtyard as well as from the inner staircase on the first floor, has a stone floor and also leads out to the lower garden from the inner staircase. Next door is the fourth vaulted ceiling room with an ancient kitchen fireplace and is used as a sauna room/gym with a wooden floor. At the southwest end of courtyard is a laundry/freezer and storage room and a boiler room housing a Sime oil fired burner. At the south east corner of the courtyard within the other Barbican Tower is useful log storage at ground floor level, with the upper levels used as garden storage, with stairs to the top of the tower and the flag pole.

The gatehouse/former stable is stone built with stone slate roof; the original entry flanked by the drum towers. This building is presently used for garaging or garden machinery (7.25 m x 4.90 m) and has a cobbled floor, two large painted wooden entry doors and a loft above. Part of this is presently used as a hen house. The building has the potential to become a flat, subject to obtaining necessary consents. Beyond this is a walled kitchen garden with dovecote, orchard, tree house and which is mainly grassed.

Gardens

The gardens at The Craig are a delight, comprising a series of linked walled gardens with the house lying towards the centre. They are believed to be of 17th century origin, and have been described as “a rare example of a complete 17th century layout of tower and walled enclosures, with additional 18th and 19th century overlays. The gardens are a fascinating and attractive record of early Scottish design.” There is a fine yew hedge acting as an informal dividing line between the north and south gardens. A paved terrace lies just outside the drawing room. A section of the upper garden is divided by box hedging with a central urn and four interlacing sections. Further to the southern end, there is a greenhouse, potting shed and garden store/garage with sectioned, wooden composting bins. To the south west at this level and further on, there is a charming summer house within rose covered ancient walls; the summer house (measuring 2.8 m x 4.0 m) has a slate roof, plaster motif depicting the harvest above the entrance, four latticed windows and two large doors which can be opened out. The summer house occupies a lovely position with views of the castle, the gardens, the Basin and the hills in the distance. Below the summer house is an elongated alpine garden. Further down is a fine herbaceous border leading across a lawn with a variety of trees and plants in borders and then proceeding through a gate, flanked by bee boles, down to the lower gardens. This again includes lawns with shrub borders, vines with clematis, berries and behind a mixed high hedge lie two more greenhouses, one with gas heaters and electricity, other raised vegetable beds and a small shed for garden tools. At the lower extremity are two large gates, one leading to the Gardener's Cottage, the other to a path and onto the surrounding policies.

Grounds

There are lovely wooded grounds and paddocks. These include the old west drive and policy woods around the house. They provide privacy and shelter, together with woodland walks. Recently some of the fields, which used to grow raspberries, have been planted. There is a further field beyond the entrance into The Craig.

Gardener's Cottage

Situated below the gardens, overlooking Montrose Basin this is an attractive harled cottage with a slate roof and double glazing. It can be reached from the road which comes up past Timber Cottage. All the rooms are accessed from the hallway. The living room has recessed shelves and an open fireplace with stone mantel, and which houses a wood burning stove. The kitchen has fitted base units with sink, Beko four ring ceramic cooker, Beko fridge/freezer, two shelved cupboards, a linen cupboard which houses the hot water tank and a back door to the garden. The bathroom is partially tiled with bath, washbasin and WC. Adjacent is bedroom 2 while bedroom 1 has a recessed wardrobe and cupboard.

To the rear of the property is a stone built shed with box profile roofing (4.31 m x 3.74 m) which has power and light. The enclosed garden is mainly down to grass.

Further two bedroom cottage may be avaiable in addition.

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*Currency rates are updated daily at approximately 01:00 GMT | Property Reference Number: GBBRRSBHS160074

Contact Property Agent

Ruaraidh Ogilvie

Savills Brechin

12 Clerk Street

Brechin

Brechin

DD9 6AE

+44 (0) 1356 628 628