DiCamillo Companion

Wardhouse (Gordon Hall)

  • Earlier Houses: The current house was built near the site of an earlier house called Arthur's Seat (according to legend, King Arthur held court at Donydoure, or Dunnideer, a nearby hill).

    Built / Designed For: Arthur Gordon

    House & Family History: Wardhouse was built in 1757 for Arthur Gordon, a member of the Gordon family of nearby Haddo House, which Wardhouse imitates in style. The House has a pedimented central bay with an oculus in the tympanum and quadrants linking the main block to the Stable and service blocks. In 1906 Rafael Carlos Gordon entertained King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain at Wardhouse during their honeymoon. Rafael was the last Gordon to live at Wardhouse. After his death in 1932, the House was let for shooting parties and served as an army billet during World War II. After the war the House was shuttered, and in 1952 it was gutted and the roof was removed to avoid taxes. In 1953 the Mansion was sold to a firm that stripped the House of its fittings and materials and then resold it. In the 1980s Wardhouse was purchased by Norman and Annie Smith. The Smiths proposed a plan in 2004 to restore the Mansion and the surrounding outbuildings as part of a conversion to a multi-housing development. All that remains inside the Mansion today (2004) are the fireplaces, arches, and stone stairs. The restoration plan, which was approved by the local council in 2005, proposes creating seven homes inside the Mansion and leaving the exterior of the House virtually unaltered. Wardhouse has an association with the famous fictional naval hero Horatio Hornblower, who is said to have been based on the Napoleonic era's Admiral Sir James Alexander Gordon, a cousin of the Gordons of Wardhouse and a regular visitor to the Mansion. C.S. Forester, the author of the Hornblower books, was said to have drawn heavily on the admiral's exploits, which included fighting with Nelson at the Battle of the Nile.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: As part of the restoration of the Mansion, the grounds at Wardhouse are to be restored, including the reinstatement of a water feature, the formal lawn, and the historic footpath network. To help fund the restoration of the Mansion, a gamekeeper's cottage was upgraded and extended, the coach house turned into a home, and a dereleict summerhouse converted into a home. In addition, five new buildings were constructed on the grounds for use as homes.

    Chapel & Church: Due to their close connection with the Spanish royal family, the Gordons (who were Catholic) maintained a Catholic chapel at Wardhouse.

  • Title: Scotland's Endangered Houses
    Author: Dean, Marcus; Miers, Mary
    Year Published: 1990
    Reference: pg. 59
    Publisher: London: SAVE Britain's Heritage
    ISBN: 0905978307
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Category B

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: Arthur Gordon, 18th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Unoccupied

    Ownership Details: Wardhouse was purchased by Norman and Annie Smith in the 1980s. In 2005 it was announced by the Smith family that they were proposing a scheme to restore the ruin, creating seven homes in the big house and in various outbuildings on the Estate.

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No