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Report - Pennyghael House, Isle of Mull - November 2012

Discussion in 'Residential Sites' started by Idle Hands, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Pennyghael House, Isle of Mull

    Early history of this country estate is a little sketchy but as far as I can work out, the original Pennyghael House was built sometime around 1819 for John MacGillivray, who acquired the estate shortly before this date. Additional wings were built onto either end around 1926, pretty sympathetically to be fair, but it hasn’t stopped recent owners from wanting to demolish them.

    The most famous of the recent owners were perennially unfashionable rockers Genesis, who bought the estate in 1986. Their plans for it were scuppered however when just as the sale was going through, the seller – forced to part with Pennyghael to settle death duties – slapped a grade 2 heritage listing on the house. As harsh a critic as the vast majority of music journalists that ever had to review a Genesis album, the said former owner lamented the descent of the house into a ruinous condition. Internals were reportedly stripped and lead removed, the gardens overgrown, the building unsecured. By 1992 Argyll and Bute Council had written to the band asking them to make repairs, which to be fair they did, and by 1994 it was wind and watertight.

    Genesis sold the estate to a Dutch company in 1997, who had no plans to restore the house.

    In 2007 a planning application was submitted again to demolish the two wings and restore the building, which although permitted has not resulted in the work being carried out.

    The Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland describes the condition of the property as ‘Poor’. Hardly surprising since it now features a huge hole in the roof, ankle-deep standing water round the back and free access for wandering livestock.

    As I was headed to Mull anyway to shoot some scenics I thought it was worth a quick look…

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    It must have looked quite impressive in its day. You can see that the roof has caved in along what I suspect was the original roof line along the right hand side.

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    Although it's a shame to see a building like this reaching the point of no return, its remote location seems to have at least protected it from mindless vandalism and graffiti. The ravages of nature however may well turn out to be even less sympathetic to its charm.

    Thanks for looking.

    Comments welcomed as ever :)​
     
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  2. Rona

    Rona 28DL Member
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    The Hardwicks owned it in the 60s - not sure from when - but moved to a farm called Beach (bay-ach, not beech), smaller and more modern, as well as cheaper to maintain, and rented it out occasionally as a holiday home. When Vincent and Mary Hardwick died, the house was inherited by their daughter Janet. She and her husband David, an antiques dealer in London, used to travel up for holidays. At other times, it was used by their friends - I was plied with large amounts of whisky there by one group when I was about 16! I remember being there for a drinks party one Christmas in the 1980s and it was still in OK condition. David died and Janet sold up, but not only did she get it listed, she removed (breaking as she did) a piece of glass which had been signed by Beatrix Potter who visited Pennyghael. By that time, the magnificent gardens, full of azaleas and primulas, had been lost.
     
  3. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks Rona - always nice to hear more about these places and fill in some gaps. I'd heard that story about Beatrix Potter before.

    I wonder what state the place is in now...
     
  4. Rona

    Rona 28DL Member
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    Haven't been there for 10 years or more. I know the Dutch folk who took over the estate weren't interested; they did up another of the estate farmhouses for them and rented out other farm buildings as holiday homes.
    There's a lovely old pet cemetery beside the ruined barn, next to what became known as keeper's cottage. And further along, Vincent and Mary are buried in a tiny graveyard on a hill overlooking the loch - I suspect that, too, is neglected and forsaken.
     
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