News. Temple Gate sees rejuvenation

26th of March, 2017

Take a twilight stroll up the newly created, lime tree-lined Duchess of Rothesay Avenue from Dumfries House’s Arboretum, and you’ll find an enchanting, folly-like structure, bathed in sympathetic light, waiting for you at the end. This is The Temple Gate – originally conceived as a gate house in the late 1700s, now resplendent once more thanks to a 10-month restoration project that was completed in June last year.

“It was originally built as an entrance gate to the north of the Estate – that’s why there are two porters’ houses either side,” explains Gordon Neil, Development and Facilities Manager at the Dumfries House Trust. “But it was never used for that owing to a land dispute with Lord Auchinleck, whose land you had to access to get to it. So it became a sort of decorative feature, a folly, over the years, as well as being used for living accommodation for families in the early 1900s.”

Stripped of its original intention and never in consistent use, The Temple Gate gradually fell into disrepair, but its stonework was solid enough for it to be worth saving. Owing to the structure being a Grade-A listed building, an archaeological report on the site was required before any work could begin: a necessity that turned out to be a huge blessing.

“This uncovered many of the original stones that had fallen off the building,” explains Neil. “Keith Ross from Dovecot Architecture then looked at the stones, along with a conservation architect from Historic Environment Scotland – which match-funded the project – and decided which ones could be reused. They then determined where the stones should be on the basis of old pictures of the building and catalogued them. Even some of the broken ones were carved by stonemasons and reused.” Some new stones were also added to fill the gaps.

“Once the designs were all set in stone (pardon the pun), we awarded it to a contractor,” continues Neil. “We also had stonemason students from the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community working with us for eight 10-week periods.” And what have been the reactions to the project? “It’s been a great success and become quite a talking point on the Estate. It’s lit up at night, so it can be seen across the fields from the A70 and it sits beautifully in the surrounding landscape.”

Its purpose remains ornamental, but what building needs a specific function when it can boast such charm? Expect the newly reinvigorated appeal of this enchanting structure to grace many a wedding photo in decades to come.

Words: Nick Scott

Photography: Simon Brown