John Douglas (Scottish architect)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

John Douglas of Pinkerton (ca 1730- 20 June 1778) was a Scottish architect who designed and reformed several country houses across lowland Scotland. “His approach was one of relentless surgery or concealment.”.[1] His most notable works are Killin and Ardeonaig Church (1744), Kilmahew Castle (attributed, 1744), Archerfield House in East Lothian (1745),[2] Wardhouse, Gordonhall, Aberdeenshire (1757) and Campbeltown Town House (1758–60).


His date and place of birth is not known. In his will appears as John Douglas of Pinkerton, late Architect in Leith, who died in 20 June 1778.[3] The Edinburgh Recorder, (records of the “Edinburgh friendly Fire Insurance Company”) [4] which started life in 1720 as a loose knit association of Edinburgh property owners for mutual financial protection against loss by fire, shows he owned properties in High Street North at Fleshmarket Close East (Thomson’s Close), records 2754-2757 and at the Old Provost Close East Head (record 2717).

Work as architect[edit]

John Douglas designed and renovated several country houses at the middle of the 18th century. He was considered as an efficient designer and many of his projects are often characterized by a horizontal hierarchy which is signposted by a central projecting body ([Archerfield House], Campbelltown Town Hall).

A cache of his drawings was discovered, curated and exhibited in 1989 by Ian Gow at the RCAHMS, entitled "John Douglas — William Adam's Rival?". This material was analysed further [5] to reveal more about his stylistic vocabulary in both executed and unmaterialsed designs ([Archerfield House], Galloway House, Finlaystone House, two designs for Blair Castle).

List of buildings[edit]

Colvin [6] lists several of his projects but some facts are not correct (for example his involvement into the repair of Holyrood Abbey Church in 1760). A map of his buildings [7] shows the geographic spread across all Scotland.

  • Freeland House (1733) Forgandenny, Perth, Perth and Kinross PH2 9EF, United Kingdom
  • Traquair House (1733–38) Bear Gates
  • Quarrell House, Stirlingshire (735-6) He collaborated with James Gibbs in the reform of the house.
  • Ardmaddy Castle, 1737 (attributed)
  • Lochnell House, 1737-9
  • Abercairny House (1737-8), design for improvements
  • Galloway House, Garlieston, Wigtonshire (1740) unexecuted design
  • Glasserton House (1740–41) unexecuted design
  • Arbroath Harbour (1741) advised on how to alleviate silting
  • Lochmaben Town Hall, Dumfries and Galloway (1743) design of a steeple
  • Amulree And Strathbraan Parish Church, Perth & Kinross, (1743–52)
  • Taymouth Castle (Balloch Castle), 1743-50. He worked at the new sash windows, dining Room and new entry to the house
  • Killin and Ardeonaig Church (1744)
  • Kilmahew Castle, (1744?) attributed
  • Finlaystone House, Langbank (1746-7)
  • Fullarton House, S. Ayrshire (1745) attributed
  • Archerfield House (1745)
  • Blair Castle [8] (1748–56), unexecuted design for Palladianisation of castle
  • Dysart, Hot Pot Wynd, Carmelite Monastery, 1748 unexecuted design
  • St Salvator’s College (1754–58) halls of residence, demolished [9][10]
  • Holyrood Abbey Church, Edinburgh (1758–60). Replacement of roof timber truss with diaphragm walls. Collapsed on 2 December 1768 [11]
  • Wardhouse, Gordonhall, Aberdeenshire (1757)
  • Campbeltown Town House (1758–60)
  • Dalhousie Castle, Midlothian (1770’s)
  • Largo House (attributed)


  1. ^ Glendinning M, MacInnes R and MacKehnie A. A History of Scottish Architecture: from the Renaissance to the Present Day (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002), ISBN 978-0-7486-0849-2
  2. ^
  3. ^ Will of John Douglas, 20/6/1778. National Archives of Scotland CC8/8/124
  4. ^ The Edinburgh Recorder. Spotlight on the personalities, properties and their fire Insurance policies from 1720 to 1840
  5. ^ Kinnear, H E B. 2001. John Douglas’ country house designs. Architectural Heritage XII, Architectural heritage Society of Scotland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
  6. ^ Howard Colvin (1978) A biographical dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840. John Murray, London
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Cant, Roger. 1956. College of St. Salvator : its foundation and development, including a selection of documents. Edinburgh : Published for the University Court of the University of St. Andrews by Oliver and Boyd
  10. ^ Grater, Abigail. 2000. The United College : the architectural development of the United College of St. Salvator & St. Leonard, University of St. Andrews, 1757-1931. St. Andrews: University of St. Andrews
  11. ^ Theodossopoulos D, Sinha BP and Usmani AS. 2003. “Case Study of the Failure of a Cross Vault: Church of Holyrood Abbey” J. Architectural Engrg, Am. Soc. Civil Engineers (ASCE), vol. 9(3), pgs. 109-117.