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Ardgowan House

A fine Palladian mansion of three storeys, with extensive flanking two-storey wings, Ardgowan House is set in a 162 ha (400 acre) estate overlooking the Firth of Clyde, a half-mile (1 km) north of Inverkip. The home of the Shaw Stewart family, the house was built between 1798 and 1801 for Sir John Shaw Stewart the 4th Baronet of Greenock and Blackhall. The architect was William Cairncross who had been an assistant to Robert Adam at Culzean, and the influence of his experience there is clear. Later in the 19th century, William Burn (1789 - 1870) altered the interior. A chapel was added in 1854 and, in 1904, Sir Robert Lorimer (1864 - 1929) restored the house and added the conservatory, which leads off the Dining Room. The principal rooms radiate from a hallway which cuts through the three storeys of the house and features fine plasterwork, Neo-Classical vaulting and is capped by an oval glass dome. In addition to the Dining Room, these rooms include a Green Room, Drawing Room and a large Library. All feature Regency furniture by Gillow of Lancaster, while an extensive collection of family portraits, including some by Sir Henry Raeburn (1756 - 1823), adorn the walls. Hanging on the main staircase is a portrait of the Emperor Napoleon, given to Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, the 6th Baronet, by Napoleon's mother who he had met in Paris. Sir Michael also acquired a hat that had been worn by Napoleon during the campaign of 1807.

A porte-cochère extends from the entrance front of the house. The surrounding parkland was created by James Ramsay in 1797, incorporating the 15th-century Ardgowan Tower.

The house served as a military hospital during both World Wars. In August 1941 Ardgowan was damaged when a German aircraft dropped bombs nearby following an abortive attack on Greenock. There were no casualties but many windows were broken. Still a family home, the house also provides a venue for corporate events, weddings, private parties and an antiques business.


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