Cairness House

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Cairness House, four miles south of Fraserburgh in the County of Aberdeenshire, is the largest and finest country house in Buchan and one of the great houses of Scotland. It was built between 1791 and 1797 to designs by architect James Playfair and replaced an earlier house of 1781 by Robert Burn, which was largely incorporated into the Playfair scheme. Sir John Soane assisted in the final stages of the construction following Playfair’s death in 1794. The park was laid out by Thomas White, a follower of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.


Cairness House was commissioned by Charles Gordon of Cairness and Buthlaw and was part of a 9,000-acre (36 km²) estate that included the village of St. Comb’s and the Loch of Strathbeg. The second laird, Major-General Thomas Gordon (1788–1841), a good friend of George Byron, 6th Baron Byron, was a hero of the Greek War of Independence and wrote a celebrated history of the conflict. The Gordon family sold the estate in 1937 to the Countess of Southesk.

After the Second World War, the house was used as a farmhouse and gradually fell into serious decline. The park was destroyed from the early 1950s onwards with the mass clearance of trees in order to reclaim land for agricultural use. In 1991, the house was listed as a Building At Risk by the Scottish Civic Trust. A major long-term restoration programme of the house and grounds was instigated by new owners in 2001.

In 2009, the project won the Georgian Group Architectural...
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