John Douglas (Scottish architect)

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John Douglas of Pinkerton (c.1709 – 20 June 1778) was a Scottish architect who designed and reformed several country houses in the Scottish Lowlands. His work deserves to be noted for what the 2002 history of Scottish architecture remarks as an approach "of relentless surgery or concealment.".[1] His most notable works are Killin and Ardeonaig Church, Stirlingshire (1744);[2] Archerfield House, East Lothian (1745);[3] Finlaystone House, Renfewshire (1746–47),[4] Wardhouse (Gordonhall), Insch, Aberdeenshire (1757);[5] and Campbeltown Town House, Argyll and Bute (1758–60).[6] Several of these are listed buildings.


His date and place of birth are not known. In his will, he appears as John Douglas of Pinkerton,[7] late architect in Leith, who died on 20 June 1778.[8] The Edinburgh Recorder (records of the Edinburgh Friendly Fire Insurance Company, which began in 1720 as a loose-knit association of Edinburgh property owners for mutual financial protection against loss by fire),[9] shows that he owned properties in High Street North at Fleshmarket Close East (Thomson’s Close) (records 2754-2757) and at Old Provost Close, East Head (record 2717).[10]

Work as architect[edit]

John Douglas designed and renovated several country houses during the middle of the 18th century. He was considered an efficient designer and many of his projects are characterised by a horizontal hierarchy which is signposted by a central projecting body[1] (for example, Archerfield House and Campbeltown Town House).

A cache of his drawings was discovered, curated and exhibited in 1989 by Ian Gow at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, entitled "John Douglas – William Adam's Rival?". This material has been further analysed, to reveal more about his style in both executed and unexecuted designs (Archerfield House, Galloway House,[11] Finlaystone House,[4] and two designs for Blair Castle [12]).

List of buildings[edit]

A book by Howard Colvin lists several of his projects, but some of the facts are incorrect (for example, Douglas was indeed responsible for the disastrous repair of Holyrood Abbey Church in 1760 and the dispute over non-payment of the rest of his fees was resolved only after his death).[13][14] A map of the buildings on which he worked shows their distribution across Scotland.[15]


  1. ^ a b Glendinning, M.; MacInnes, R.; MacKehnie, A. (2002). A History of Scottish Architecture: from the Renaissance to the Present Day. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-0849-2.
  2. ^ a b "Killin & Ardeonaig Parish Church". Scotland's Churches Trust. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Archerfield House". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Finlaystone House History". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Wardhouse, Insch". Archived from the original on 21 December 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Campbeltown, Main Street, Town House". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  7. ^ Pinkerton is not in the 2007 Times Atlas. The place may perhaps be Little Pinkerton or Meikle Pinkerton, Dunbar, East Lothian.
  8. ^ Will of John Douglas, 20 June 1778. National Archives of Scotland CC8/8/124
  9. ^ Gilhooley, James, ed. (1990). The Edinburgh Recorder: Spotlight on the Personalities, Properties and Their Fire Insurance Policies from 1720 to 1840. Edinburgh: Privately printed.
  10. ^ "John Douglas, Architect". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Galloway House". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  12. ^ Kinnear, Holly E. B. (2001). "John Douglas' Country House Designs" (PDF). Architectural Heritage. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, for the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland. pp. 1–12. ISSN 1350-7524.
  13. ^ Colvin, Howard (1978). A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1840. London: John Murray.
  14. ^ a b Theodossopoulos, D.; Sinha, B.P.; Usmani, A.S. (2003). "Case Study of the Failure of a Cross Vault: Church of Holyrood Abbey" (PDF). J. Archit. Eng. American Society of Civil Engineers. pp. 109–117.
  15. ^ "Main Buildings Attributed to the 18C Architect John Douglas". Google maps. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  16. ^ "Freeland House" (PDF). Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Murthly House DSA Building/ Design Report". Dictionary of Scottish Architects DSA. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Abercairny". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  19. ^ "Glasserton House". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  20. ^ "Arbroath Harbour". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Elevation of Lochmaben Town Hall, Dumfries and Galloway". Scran. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Taymouth Castle". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Amulree Church of Scotland and Churchyard". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  24. ^ "Kilmahew House". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  25. ^ "Fullarton House". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  26. ^ "Blair Castle". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  27. ^ "Dysart, Hot Pot Wynd, Carmelite Monastery". Canmore database. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  28. ^ Cant, Ronald G. (1950). The College of St Salvator: Its Foundation and Development, Including a Selection of Documents. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, for the University Court#ScotlandUniversity Court of the University of St. Andrews.
  29. ^ Grater, Abigail (2000). The United College: The Architectural Development of the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard, University of St. Andrews, 1757–1931. St Andrews: University of St. Andrews.
  30. ^ "Dalhousie Castle, Midlothian". Scran. Retrieved 21 December 2014.