Dunskey House

Dunskey House
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Dunskey House

A sizeable B-listed mansion with a long and rather bleak facade, Dunskey House lies a mile (1.5 km) north of Portpatrick on the west coast of the Rhins of Galloway. Built 1901-04 by James Hunter for Charles Lindsay Orr-Ewing (who died shortly before it was completed) and his wife Lady Augusta Boyle (daughter of the 7th Earl of Glasgow), replacing an earlier house of 1706, fragments of which are incorporated in the modern structure. This older house had been the property of the Hunter-Blair family, who had their principal seat in Ayrshire, and was greatly extended c.1830. This had replaced Dunskey Castle, the ruins of which lie 1½ miles (2.5 km) to the south, beyond Portpatrick.

The new house comprises three storeys, with its entrance in the centre of the southern elevation. This grey fifteen-bay facade is decorated with water-spouts and crow-stepped gables, however, it is for its beautifully-appointed interior that Dunskey is best known.

The L-shaped drawing room features an opulent plasterwork ceiling in the 18th C. French style. The library also has the very best quality plasterwork, while a boudoir has musical instruments represented in the ceiling and the fine plasterwork continues in the over-mantel. The dining room and billiard room feature beamed ceilings, with a fine chimney-piece in the former and an inglenook in the latter.

The estate includes a walled garden, which is now planted as a pleasure garden and open to the public, together with pheasant and partridge shoots, deer stalking and trout fishing on its two small lochs. The Southern Upland Way follows a coastal path on the western edge of the estate, crossing Dunskey Glen as it descends to its termination at Portpatrick.

Both house and estate remain the property of the Orr-Ewing family, with Major Edward Orr-Ewing having served as Lord Lieutenant of Wigtownshire between 1989 and 2006.

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