Ascog Hall

(Ascog Hall Fernery & Gardens)

Fernery, Ascog Hall
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Fernery, Ascog Hall

Ascog Hall is a Scots Baronial villa that looks out onto the Firth of Clyde from the east coast of the Isle of Bute. The house is B-listed. It was built in 1844 for Rev. James Monteith, who had moved from Dalkeith to take on Ascog Church following The Disruption of 1843. The architect is thought to have been James Smith (1808-63). Ascog Hall later passed to Robertson Buchanan Stewart (1793 - 1871), a notable draper in Glasgow, and then to his son, Alexander Bannatyne Stewart (1836-80), who was Convener of the County of Bute. They had the house altered in 1862 by John Honeyman (1831 - 1914). The interior is arranged over three floors, with entry through a circular turret. There is a dual aspect drawing room, comfortable sitting room and impressive dining room, and currently five bedrooms on the two upper levels.

The fine gardens and award-winning historic fernery have become a tourist attraction.

The grounds extend to about 1.2 ha (3 acres) and include specimen trees, rare plants, shrubs and a large variety of herbaceous perennials, including rhododendrons, azaleas, hostas, acers, a fine gunnera and an immense tree fern, which together provide year-round interest. There is a pond, rose garden and a Plant Hunter's Trail which reveals a selection of explorers who introduced plants to this garden and to many others across the UK.

The garden was laid out in the 1870s by Edward La Trobe Bateman (1816-97) and it was probably he who created the remarkable sunken Fernery in 1875, with its fine glass roof and fed by natural spring water. This is now unique in Scotland. Amongst fern species from around the world, it contains a 1000-year-old King Fern, believed to be Britain's oldest exotic fern. The fernery was restored 1995-96 and opened to the public the following year.

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