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Gosford House (Wemyss House)

  • Built / Designed For: Francis Charteris, 7th Earl of Wemyss.

    House & Family History: Gosford was built by the 7th Earl of Wemyss between 1790 and 1800 to the designs of the great Robert Adam, who didn't live to see the completion of his largest and last classically-designed Scottish house. The 8th Earl demolished the wings; his grandson, the 10th Earl, rebuilt them in 1891 to designs of the architect William Young. During World War II, when Gosford was occupied by the British Army, the main rooms of the central block caught fire; the damage was extensive and restoration of the central block continues today, over 70 years later. The South Wing, which contains the famous Marble Hall (made of Staffordshire alabaster), was restored in 1951 and its roof replaced in 1987. On a clear day Gosford can be seen from Edinburgh.

    Collections: A once-famous 18th century portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie by Allan Ramsay, painted a year before his defeat at the Battle of Culloden and the only portrait of the Prince painted in Britain (he probably sat for it when he was installed at Holyrood Palace in 1745), was acquired by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2016. The painting had been hanging in a forgotten corridor at Gosford until it was rediscovered in 2014 by Bendor Grosvenor. Last publicly exhibited in Edinburgh in 1946, the portrait was transferred from the Wemyss Heirlooms Trust to the nation for £1.1 million through the AIL system (Acceptance in Lieu) as part of the settlement of the estate duty due from the death of the 11th Earl of Wemyss in 1937. In the portrait Bonnie Prince Charlie is wearing a velvet robe fringed with ermine and the blue ribbon and star of the Order of the Garter. The portrait was famous in its day, being used as propaganda for the Jacobite cause through its frequent reproduction via engraved copies. One of Horace Walpole's most prized possessions, a colossal 1st century AD marble Roman eagle, is in the collection today at Gosford (see photo in "Images" section). The eagle was excavated in 1742 in the Boccapaduli family’s garden, within the precincts of the Baths of Caracalla, in Rome. Cardinal Alessandro Albani brought the discovery of the ancient eagle to the attention of the antiquarian and collector John Chute (of The Vyne, Hampshire), who convinced his friend Horace Walpole to purchase it in 1745. The bird was displayed in the Gallery of his famous house, Strawberry Hill, from 1747 until 1842, when it was sold at auction in the famous Strawberry Hill sale (an engraving of the eagle appeared on the frontispiece of the sale catalog). Walpole was so taken with the large bird that it appears in his 1756–57 portrait by Joshua Reynolds (in the collection of Ragley Hall, Warwickshire); on the table next to Walpole's elbow in the portrait is a print, commissioned by him, that prominently shows the large bird. The eagle was documented by Adolf Michaelis in his 1882 publication, "Ancient Marbles in Great Britain" and it was one of the stars of "The Treasure Houses of Britain" exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in 1985.

  • Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: 1791-1803
    Designed: Central block, wings, for 7th Earl of Wemyss.

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    Architect: William Young

    Date: 1883-91
    Designed: Remodeled House and added wings

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  • Vitruvius Britannicus: C. New, I, pls. 43-50, 1802.

    Country Life: XXX, 342 plan, 1911. CL, 1048, 1200 [Photocopy], 1971.

  • Title: Treasure Houses of Britain, The - SOFTBACK
    Author: Jackson-Stops, Gervase (Editor)
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pg. 319
    Publisher: Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press)
    ISBN: 0300035530
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
    Author: Sayer, Michael
    Year Published: 1993
    Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
    ISBN: 0859551970
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Category A

    Park Listed: Outstanding

  • "The Aristocracy" (1997 - BBC TV documentary mini series). "The House of Mirth" (2000).
  • Current Seat / Home of: James Donald Charteris, 13th Earl of Wemyss and 9th Earl of March; Charteris family here since the 18th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01875-870-201

    Fax: 01875-870-376

    Email: info@gosfordhouse.co.uk

    Website: http://www.gosfordhouse.co.uk

    Historic Houses Member: Yes