Lutyens Houses on the Market
Richard Page’s regular property column
Ferry Inn, Rosneath, Dunbartonshire
In 1871, HRH Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, married the Marquess of Lorne, later Duke of Argyll. He was Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883, she an accomplished sculptress, best known for her statue of Queen Victoria that stands outside Kensington Palace.
In the 1890s, they moved to the Marquess’s boyhood home, Rosneath Castle, near the tip of the Rosneath peninsula to the north of the Firth of Clyde (owned by the family since the 15th century). In 1896, the Princess acquired the nearby Ferry Inn on the shores of Gare Loch and, thanks to an introduction by Gertrude Jekyll, commissioned Edwin Lutyens, then 27, to alter and extend the building to create a dream cottage by the sea. The result was a spectacular example of Arts and Crafts thinking with Art Nouveau influences, described by architect and writer Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel as being where “we first feel there is magic in the air”. It is considered to be as architecturally significant as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh across the sea loch.
Lutyens’s addition to the house remains today, the original inn having been demolished, although the former ballroom was spared and is now a separate cottage. Built over two storeys on a raised basement, the house takes full advantage of its position overlooking the water. The south elevation has a huge stacked stone chimney to the side of the gabled entrance porch, from which at the upper level thin, vertical oriel windows wrap around the eastern elevation. These windows are in the same style as those at Le Bois des Moutiers at Varengeville-sur-Mer, designed two years later.
Princess Louise never lived in the house and in 1902 it became a home for soldiers wounded in the Boer War, then the Great War. It was later sold to the Government, forming an association with the military. During the Second World War, when the house was part of the American naval base at Rosneath, it is understood that Winston Churchill left from Ferry Inn to meet President Roosevelt at Potsdam and Yalta and Bob Hope and Dinah Shore stayed there while entertaining troops. By the late 1950s, the house was little more than a shell and was acquired in 1959 by a boatyard owner, Peter Boyle, who modernised it. The current owners have lived there for 11 years, have further updated the house and bought back the cottage.
Now Category A-listed, this fascinating house has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a reception hall, three reception rooms, kitchen, breakfast room and utility room. The lower-ground floor includes a sitting room and bedroom. The Category C-listed cottage offers open-plan living space in a former ballroom, together with a kitchen and bathroom. The 5,000-sq ft property stands in four acres of gardens and grounds providing the most wonderful setting, including a private beach and sea-loch frontage. Available through Savills. Guide price: £795,000.