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Novar House

A substantial mansion and estate in Easter Ross (Highland), Novar extends to 20,000 acres (8093 ha) between the River Glass and the River Alness. Novar House is located amongst parkland on the north shore of the Cromarty Firth, 1¼ miles (2 km) northeast of Evanton, and comprises a two-storey U-plan yellow-harled mansion, with symmetrical wings to the northeast and southwest. Dating from 1720, Novar may contain fragments of an earlier property, evidenced by a date-stone built into the west wing which indicates 1634. Built for John Munro of Novar, the house was greatly extended c.1765-70 by his nephew General Sir Hector Munro (1726 - 1805), quite possibly with the involvement of John Adam (1721-92). In 1897 it was altered further, with the addition of an attic floor to the main block and significant internal remodelling, by Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson (1860 - 1934) who later became a respected Governor-General of Australia and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Novar of Raith. Further alterations took place in 1956, when the entrance was moved.

The main block presents seven-bays to the south and contains the grand dining room, which includes a fine chimney-piece, together with a long gallery on the first floor above. The drawing room occupies the southwestern wing and has a fine ceiling featuring a remarkable 18th C. allegorical skyscape by Dutch artist Jacob de Wit (1695 - 1754) which was taken from Rosehaugh, a house on the Black Isle that was rebuilt in 1903 but demolished in 1959. The bookcases in the library, located behind the drawing room, also came from Rosehaugh.

To the rear of the building, a cross-range creates inner and outer courtyards, the former now containing the main entrance.

Novar Estate, once described as a barren and treeless place, was also transformed by Sir Hector, who drained marshes, improved the farmland and planted a large number of trees. He also built a remarkable folly on the summit of Fyrish Hill, said to represent the ruined gateway to the Indian city of Negapatnam, which Munro had captured for the British in 1781.

Today the estate extends to more than 8093 ha (20,000 acres) and includes farms, commercial forestry and open hill, providing traditional country sports and over 150 miles (241 km) of paths and tracks. The estate also includes a hydroelectric scheme and the first wind farm in the Highlands.

Located a quarter-mile (0.5 km) north of Novar House at Mains of Novar, Ardtalla represents the modern conversion of a substantial Late Georgian courtyard steading and stables, adjacent to a 2 ha (5-acre) walled garden. This comprises a large galleried hall, drawing room, dining room, sitting room, billiard room, gun room and nine bedrooms, and is hired to sporting parties, for weddings and corporate events.

Novar is still owned and run by the Munro-Ferguson family and the rugged grandeur of the estate is promoted as a back-drop to films and advertisements.


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