Built in 1666, the A-listed Laird’s house has only been owned by three families in its entire existence.
The layout of the stately home has remained largely unchanged over the centuries, it is still in its original L-shaped plan, with circular turrets, stepped gables, a central tower and battlements.
Inside are traditional delights such as a stone staircase, a vaulted ceiling in the dining room and numerous stone fireplaces.
It was built by Robert Bruce – Provost of Stirling and descendant of The Bruce. The original owned building contract is still displayed in the house.
The estate passed through marriage to the Munros in 1708, after an unfortunate Bruce had to flee Scotland after being lucky enough to survive a fatal duel.
In 1787 the national bard Robert Burns stayed here and wrote in his diary of an evening spent dining with the laird of the day – also a poet.
Winston Churchill also visited, staying with a niece who had married into the Munro family. He is said to have written part of his historical tome from 1933 The Great War in the library on the first floor.
Robert Donnelly and his partner, Connie Alexander, bought Auchenbowie 17 years ago, looking for an equestrian country house with facilities for dressage and show jumping.
The house’s Grade A listing meant that the necessary renovation and modernization of the property carried out by Robert and Connie had to be sensitive. Robert explains: “Obviously we weren’t going to make any structural changes and the work had to adapt to the original elements. The couple rewired and plumbed Auchenbowie, and have since added a biomass boiler as well as a new oil-fired system.
For such a large floor plan, surprisingly, every room is now utilized – the hexagonal tower houses a ground floor entrance hall, there are character bathrooms on the first and second floors, while the turret rooms are original dressing rooms. The wood-panelled library is a highlight, the billiard room is lit by a cupola above the table, and the dining room presents a spectacular setting for entertaining.
Robert says: “Because it was built in the 1660s, it was after the fortified military style layout, so it’s designed much more as a family home and for entertaining, with large windows and rooms welcoming. The three bedroom apartment has allowed us in the past to provide accommodation for a resident groom.
Accommodation for four-legged occupants is almost as impressive, as the house has stables and boxes for ten horses, a hayloft, barn and tack rooms. There is also an indoor arena, a large outdoor arena and two paddocks.
Prestigious property: Real estate with additional interest
Auchenbowie Garden is very well established. Most of the surrounding fields are pasture, but the lawns and shrubs around the house are decades old, if not older. A sundial in the park, dedicated to the former owners, is B-listed. Robert reveals: “It still works, but only if the sun is shining!”
There are old lime trees on both sides of Auchenbowie Garden and topiary yew hedges provide a sheltered outdoor space. The east driveway is lined with oak trees.
The house offers many opportunities for a lifestyle purchase – as a private dwelling, a hotel business or building on the potential of its outstanding equestrian facilities.
The tennis court in the garden completes the picture. As Robert says, “We really always felt like we had it all here to spend whole weekends doing what we love.”
Auchenbowie House, Stirling, is priced from offers in excess of £1.6million.
for more information contact Savills at 0131-247 3731.