In terms of world events, the year 1775 was pretty dramatic. It’s the year the American Revolution began with the first shots fired just after dawn in Lexington, Massachusetts – shots which were then heard around the world. Here, the Industrial Revolution was underway while people in the Highlands were still dealing with the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden and Highland Clearances.
If walls could talk, Wardlaw House in Kirkhill would have some fascinating tales to tell. Parts of the B-listed country house date to around 1775, while much of the rear of the house was built around 1825.
But its connections to the past don’t end there…
The house, for sale at offers over £450,000, was formerly manse for Wardlaw Parish and is a short walk from Wardlaw Mausoleum and graveyard which featured as a Highland location in author Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books.
The A-Listed structure was built in 1634 as the burial place for the Lovat Frasers. However the building fell into disrepair for centuries, until its historic significance was recognised and it was restored in the 1990s.
The mausoleum is said to be the final resting place of Simon Fraser of Lovat, who is also referred to as The Old Fox, a key figure in the Jacobite rebellion and portrayed as grandfather of Jamie Fraser in the Outlander series.
Lord Lovat was beheaded at the Tower of London in 1747 for his part in the rebellion, and while his body was initially buried there, it’s believed supporters may have returned his headless body to Wardlaw where it lies in a lead casket. As the P&J reported earlier this autumn, a renowned forensic expert is to undertake tests to see if the remains in the crypt are indeed that of Simon Fraser.
Having owned Wardlaw House for more than 30 years, Susan and Gordon McLaren, have seen for themselves the “Outlander” effect.
“We used to see occasional visitors coming to visit the mausoleum because of its historical connections but now there’s lots of people coming here because of the connection to the Outlander series,” said Susan, 71.
While the sale of the house represents a rare opportunity to buy a lovely home with a rich heritage and original features, it didn’t always look this way as Susan explained.
“Gordon’s work as a civil engineer brought us to the Highlands from Cheshire,” said Susan.
“When we first saw Wardlaw House we felt it had plenty of potential but it was in quite a bad state.
“We had to do a lot of work including re-wiring, re-plumbing, putting in new floors and central heating, demolishing an old wooden porch and replacing it with a solid porch and decorating it throughout.
“Although it’s B-listed we found making change wasn’t too much of a problem, so long as you talked regularly to the planners.”
The couple spent many happy years in the eight-bedroom house and enjoyed seeing their two sons flourish, enjoying the big rooms and more than an acre of mature, enclosed gardens which surround the house.
“The house really suited our way of life, while at Christmas it was ideal as there was always plenty of room for relatives and friends to come and stay,” said Susan.
The accommodation is spread across three floors. The ground floor includes a reception entrance, cloakroom, lounge with exposed wooden flooring and open fireplace and a drawing room with open fireplace. The drawing and formal dining room are connected by double doors.
From a rear hall, there’s a walk-in cloak room, secure gun cupboard, WC, well appointed kitchen/dining room, utility room, walk-in larder and porch.
Stairs lead from both the reception and rear halls to a half landing with connecting door and on to the front and rear first floor landings which lead to five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a sixth bedroom/study.
From the rear first floor stairs lead to the second floor which has two attic bedrooms, one of which is currently utilised as a games room while there’s a connecting door to the front landing and three further ancillary rooms.
Along with established grounds and plenty of parking space, there’s a traditional stone outbuilding with slate roof currently used as a double garage, workshop, coal and wood store.
“We are selling now that we’ve got to that age…” said Susan.
“Our sons live in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and we now have a two-year-old grandson who we’d like to see more of so are selling up so we can move closer to the boys.”
Caroline Young, spokeswoman for SPC Scotland, said: “With its short distance to Wardlaw Mausoleum, this fantastic eight-bedroom country house is a must view for all Outlander fans who enjoy seeing locations in the Highlands brought to life.”
Contact Macleod and MacCallum for more information and to avoid being disappointed, as there has been recent interest in this property. Call 01463 235559.