Friars' Carse Hotel

(Friars Carse)

A B-listed mansion set amongst 18.2 ha (45 acres) of parkland and woodland on the right bank of the River Nith, the Friars' Carse Hotel is located 1¼ miles (2 km) southeast of Auldgirth in Dumfries and Galloway. This heavily-baronial dressed red sandstone edifice, was constructed around an earlier house in 1873 by Barbour and Bowie and extended by the same architects 1905-09. The principal (southeast) range has a complex wide faced and includes a peculiar round tower with a rectangular second stage corbelled out above. The house has been a hotel since 1938 and features a fine panelled entrance hall and snooker room, together with an elegant staircase and 21 en suite bedrooms.

The name derives from a monastery which was established nearby by the monks of Melrose in the 13th century. By the 16th century, there was a tower here, with a cap-house surrounded by a prominent parapet. In the 17th and 18th centuries, this was extended to include lodgings with crow-stepped gables, enclosed within a courtyard. These were replaced by a modest Georgian mansion, known as Glenriddell, built 1771-73 for Robert Riddell, a friend and patron of the poet Robert Burns (1759-96). In 1809, the house and estate were purchased Dr James Crichton (1765 - 1823), who had made his fortune as a physician with the East India Company, and reverted to the name Friars' Carse. Crichton died here in 1823. His widow remained until her own death in 1862, founding the Crichton Royal Hospital in Dumfries in her husband's memory.

A stable block to the rear is formed around a courtyard and dates from the 19th C. extended in 1905. On the north side of this courtyard is an entrance tower and doocot. In the grounds is the Hermitage, a small rectangular structure dating from 1785, remodelled in 1874. Robert Riddell gave Burns a key to this building to use as a retreat. Burns is known to have written poetry here and etched the opening lines of the Whistle on one of its windows (no longer extant).

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