Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gargunnock House Near Stirling, Central Scotland

The main front of Gargunnock, when approached through the park, looks regular, classical, serenely late Georgian. But this façade of 1794 is only skin deep, imposing order on additions made then and in the previous two centuries to an old tower, which still forms the core of the house.

The old tower also dictates that the main rooms are on the first floor, above the traditional vaulted basement. Of these, unquestionably the finest is the drawingroom; it contains a piano (now ornamental) on which, just possibly, Frédéric Chopin once played. Gargunnock was bought in 1835 by Charles Stirling, a Glasgow merchant and son of an old Perthshire family. His sister, Jane, was Chopin’s pupil and friend. She brought him to Scotland in 1848, taking him to stay with her sisters and cousins, and family tradition is firm that he came here too.

The late Miss Viola Stirling was the last of her family. She left Gargunnock to trustees who now let it, with our help, for holidays. Staying here feels rather as if the family has gone away for a while. They have taken their personal things with them, but the furniture remains, the flower garden is cared for, the park is grazed and the estate maintained in orderly fashion.

There is fine country in all directions, and Stirling is nearby, but most of all you can enjoy living briefly in this graceful and pleasantly old-fashioned country house at the foot of the Gargunnock Hills....more

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