Willie’s View: Duff House

Willie Shand ©

Willie heads along the Moray Firth coast to Duff House.

Having had breakfast at around 3am and driven a good few hundred miles, I then went for a long coastal walk. By 2pm I was well ready for a lunch stop.  I was now making my way east along the Moray Firth coast, aiming for Gardenstown and Crovie. I knew just the spot for cracking open the flask – at Banff in the grounds of one of Scotland’s finest pieces of architecture – Duff House.

This grand mansion, with its Corinthian pilasters and extravagant carvings, was built for Lord Braco, 1st Earl of Fife.  He was clearly not short of a few bawbees as, around 1735, he commissioned the leading Architect of his time, William Adam, to design and build it.  The library alone was almost 70 feet long!

There was no budget agreed – what it cost was of little concern to his Lordship.

As the project advanced, however, and costs started to escalate far beyond his expectations, a long legal dispute erupted between him and Adam.  It became so bitter that the project was never completed.  From the rough, unfinished masonry at the sides of the building two, two-storey wings were to spring like horns with graceful curved colonnades.

The Earl was so upset by the whole affair that it’s said he never stayed in his new house. Any time his carriage happened to pass near it, he pulled down the blinds so he never had to look at it!

Now I’m sitting down to a tin of Ambrosia rice and pears on the front lawn. Perhaps a little out of keeping with a house whose walls were once decorated with paintings by Joshua Reynolds and Vandyke.



Catch up with more of Willie’s travels around Scotland.

Willie Shand