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Greenock Sheriff Court displays crow-stepped gables and corbelled corner turrets.

The Scots Baronial style is part of the Gothic revival in architectural styles, drawing on stylistic elements and forms from castles, tower houses and mansions of the Renaissance period in Scotland, such as Craigievar Castle and Newark Castle, Port Glasgow. The revival style was popular from the early 19th century until World War I. One of the earliest examples of Scottish Baronial style was Abbotsford House, the residence the famous novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott, built for himself on the Tweed River in the Scottish Border Country.

Buildings of the style frequently feature towers further adorned by small turrets. Roof lines are uneven, their crenelated battlements often broken by stepped gables. While small lancet windows may appear in towers and gables, large bay windows of plate glass were not uncommon, but even these would often have their individual roofs adorned by pinnacles and crenelation. Porches, porticos and porte-cocheres, were often given the full castle treatment, an imitation portcullis on the larger houses would occasionally be suspended above a front door, flanked by heraldic beasts and other medieval architectural motifs. This architectural style was often employed for public buildings, such as Aberdeen Grammar School. However, it was by no means confined to Scotland and is, in truth, a fusion of the Gothic revival castle architecture first employed by Horace Walpole for his Twickenham villa, Strawberry Hill, and the ancient Scottish defensive tower houses. In the 19th century it became fashionable for private houses to be built with small turrets and dubbed in Scottish Baronial style. In fact the architecture often had little in common with tower houses, which retained their defensive functions and fell short of 19th century ideas of comfort.

Balmoral Castle shows the final Victorian embodiment of the style. A principal keep similar to Craigievar is the heart of the castle, while a large turreted country house is attached

The Scottish Baronial style was promoted by such architects as Edward Blore, this form of architecture was popular in the dominions of the British Empire.

In Ireland a young English architect of the York School of Architecture, George Fowler Jones, designed Castle Oliver, a 110 room mansion of approx 29,000 sq ft (2,700 m2), built in a similar pink sandstone to Belfast Castle. Castle Oliver had all the classic hallmarks of the style, including battlements, porte-cochere, crow-stepped gables, numerous turrets, arrow slits, spiral stone staircases, and conical 'witch's hat' roofs. (see below, External Links)

In New Zealand it was advocated by the architect Robert Lawson who designed frequently in this style most notably at Larnach Castle in Dunedin. Other examples in New Zealand include works by Francis Petre. In Toronto Casa Loma was built on a hilltop site, 1911 – 14, for Sir Henry Pellatt, a prominent financier and industrialist. His architect, E. J. Lennox, provided him with battlements and towers, tempered by modern plumbing and other conveniences. Another Canadian example is the Banff Springs Hotel in the Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. This hotel is still very much in use.

The style was popular in Scotland and was applied to many relatively modest dwellings by architects such as Edward Calvert. Ironically, several real Scottish castles were rebuilt in the Scottish Baronial style. During the 19th century it became fashionable for the aristocracy to leave London to visit Scotland during the month of August for the shooting, and many aristocrats favoured this style for the shooting and sporting estates they created at this time in Scotland, often building "castles" of immense proportions such as Skibo Castle and Balmoral Castle.

The 20th-century Scottish Baronial castles have had the reputation of architectural follies. Among most patrons and architects the style fell from favour along with the Gothic revival in the early years of the 20th century.

External links

  • The Scottish Baronial – an introduction and illustrations of five notable examples.
  • Craigends – a detailed study of "David Bryce's lost masterpiece", demolished in 1971.
  • Castle Oliver Photographs and history of a recently restored Scottish Baronial masterpiece.


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