Items from Cairness House go under the hammer

Cairness House near Fraserburgh.
Cairness House near Fraserburgh.

Selected contents from the iconic Cairness House near Fraserburgh went under the hammer earlier this week.

Lyon & Turnbull sold selected contents from the Category A listed building at a sale in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Items in the sale included 18th and 19th century furniture, paintings, and works of art, garden furniture and items from the garden.

They included a 17th century Flemish classical tapestry valued at between £12,000 and £18,000, a set of seven Scottish Regency mahogany chairs attributed to William Trotter valued at £1,000 to £1,500 and a Regency Mahogany breakfast table valued at £400 to £600.

Cairness House is considered one of the finest examples of domestic neoclassical architecture in Britain.

Constructed between 1791 and 1797 to designs by the architect James Playfair, the house is constructed of finely detailed granite ashlar and consists of a main block flanked by raised wings with a pair of lower pavilions extending to the back connected by a semicircular service wing enclosing a central courtyard.

Playfair’s design incorporates Masonic, Egyptian and Roman elements in the overall plan which parallel work by the architect Sir John Soane.

Commissioned by Charles Gordon of Cairness and Buthlaw, the house remained in the Gordon family until the 1930s when it was sold to the Countess of Esk.

The post-war years saw Cairness House, like many country houses in Britain, gradually slip into disrepair and by the early 1990s it was listed as a ‘Building at Risk’ by the Scottish Civic Trust.

In 2001 the present owners purchased Cairness and set about an extensive plan of preservation and restoration of the period interiors.

Years of neglect were reversed, plasterwork and mouldings repaired, and an authentic colour scheme reintroduced to recreate the original neoclassical interiors.

Their painstaking work and attention to detail saw the project win the Georgian Group Architectural Award for ‘Best Restoration of a Georgian Country House in Britain’ in 2009.

The contents selected for sale were a reflection of the interiors at Cairness and included a fine collection of 18th and 19th century furniture, paintings, and works of art.