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Duff House

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Duff House, a seat of the Earl of Fife in Banff parish, Banffshire, near the middle of an extensive plain, on the left bank of the river Deveron, 3 furlongs S by E of the town of Banff. Built in 1740-45 by William Lord Braco, after designs by the elder Adam, at a cost of £70,000, it is a large quadrangular four-storied edifice, in the Roman style, with balustrades and domical tower-like projections at the four angles, and is adorned externally with statues and vases. Two wings, that would have given it an oblong shape, were never added. Within is a fine collection of paintings, comprising portraits of the Constable de Bourbon by Titian, of Charles I., Henrietta Maria, Strafford, Lord Herbert, and the Countess of Pembroke by Van Dyck, of Mrs Abingdon and the Duchess of Gordon by Sir Joshua Reynolds, of the fourth Earl of Fife by Raeburn, and of the late Countess by Sir Francis Grant, beside pictures by Quentin Matsys, Murillo, Cuyp, Ruysdael, Snyders, Wouvermans, Domenichino, Holbein, Velasquez, etc. The Library, 70 feet long, contains over 15,000 volumes, and is rich in 17th century pamphlets and Spanish works, collected mostly by James, fourth Earl (1776-1851), during his Peninsular campaign. The whole was reorganised and catalogued by Mr A. Robertson in 1881. The Armoury, among other relics, contains three Audrea Ferraras, and the target and huge two-handed sword of the freebooter M`Pherson, who was hanged at Banff in 1701. In 1780 William Nicol and Burns went over Duff House, where the latter was greatly taken with portraits of the exiled Stuarts. The finely-wooded park, extending nearly 3 miles along the Deveron from Banff to Alvah Bridge, comprises parts of two counties and four parishes, and measures 14 miles in circumference; abounds in drives and walks of singular beauty; and includes the site of St Mary's Carmelite friary, founded before 1324, which site is now occupied by the Gothic mausoleum of the Fife family. Alexander-William-George Duff, sixth Earl Fife since 1759 (b. 1849; suc. 1879), holds 152,820 acres in Banff, Elgin, and Aberdeen shires, valued at £72,813 per annum.—Ord. Sur., sh. 96, 1876. See James Imlach's History of Banff (Banff, 1868).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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