Award winning restoration of perhaps Brechin's oldest surviving townhouse
The restoration of The Merchant's House won a Scottish Civic Trust award in 2013 and the judges commented, this is a first class restoration project which has created generous and very liveable spaces within an historic and landmark house. The designers are to be commended for their attention to detail and respect for the history of the building.
The original Merchant's House now comprises two residential properties, being nos 68 and 70. No 68 is the smaller of these two properties.
The Merchant's House is located in the historic centre of Brechin which has benefitted from the restoration of a number of historic buildings under the auspices of the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI). The Merchant's House is a post medieval dwelling with a rare and intact roof structure dating from 1470, and is one of the oldest residential properties in Brechin. The principal part dates from 1575 incorporating the earlier roof timbers. As it is situated within a conservation area, and because of its historic significance, the building was subject to a major restoration project, which was begun in 2011 and completed early the following year. Kit Martin (Historic Houses Rescue) Ltd, as owner, worked with the THI and the Prince's Regeneration Trust. In 2012 the Duke of Rothesay visited the Merchant's House and other buildings in the heart of Brechin to celebrate the restoration project.
The building has an ochre coloured lime render finish to the upper storeys and has a new slate roof and crow stepped gables. The result of the restoration is remarkable, particularly as many of the original interior features have been retained, including fireplaces, window shutters and cornices. A particular feature is the historic oak roof trusses, which were carefully repaired and have been left exposed.
A wooden front door opens to an entrance lobby with a stone flag floor, staircase to first floor and an understair cupboard. The kitchen is fully fitted with wall and floor units with wooden worktops which incorporate an Electrolux four ring halogen hob, and oven/grill, sink, under counter AEG fridge and freezer and plumbing a washing machine. In addition there is a beamed ceiling and a wooden floor together with a fireplace with mantel. Above this, in Latin, are the dates of when the house was built, altered and renovated, being 1575, 1717 and 2012. Steps lead down to the living room which has a high ceiling and is beamed, together with a fireplace with a mantel and housing a wood burning stove, wooden floor, window shutters and a door out to the garden.
The first floor landing has two cupboards (one housing a wall mounted Worcester Bosch boiler), fireplace with mantel and a covered old fashioned sink in one of the windows. Bedroom 1 has a fireplace with mantel, another covered vintage window sink, and a shelved cupboard. The shower room has a shower cubicle, washbasin and WC. The staircase continues up to the second floor. Bedroom 2 has original beams and a fireplace with mantel and raised hearth. The bathroom is part timber lined and has a bath, washbasin and WC.
At the back of the house is a raised and paved seating area with steps leading down to a small area of lawn with a log store, and steps leading on down to a path at the bottom of Skinners Den which with its burn separates the town of Brechin from Brechin Castle.
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The Merchant's House is a very fine example of an intricate and important restoration project. To take on an A listed building of this age is not for the faint hearted, but the work has been superbly executed, and the house that has emerged is a warm and welcoming home, as much as it is a fascinating slice of history. The interior is particularly well judged and this is now a hugely appealing townhouse, steeped in period character.Ruaraidh Ogilvie