Arthurstone House is a huge and handsome mansion around half a mile from Meigle.
Sitting in 38 acres of its own grounds, it has been developed into 15 homes and luxury apartments. Each has its own unique style and personality.
The history of Arthurstone House stretches all the way back to the 1790s, when it was built for Captain James Ramsay of Hook, in Hampshire. Once owned by the Cistercian Abbey of nearby Coupar Angus, the estate passed to the Second Earl of Argyll.
In 1869 it was sold to Peter Carmichael, a partner in the Dundee firm Baxter Brothers. Carmichael remodelled the house and gardens, adding a library and a billiard room.
The Carmichael family sold the house in 1990. For the next 15 years it was the home of Butterstone School, an independent boarding school for girls. In 2005 Athurstone House was developed into a collection of luxury homes that maintain the character of the B-listed building.
The Fingask is number 3 Arthurstone House. It’s owned by Professor Jennifer Harris and her husband Paul.
The couple bought the ground floor apartment 15 years ago and share it with their beautiful golden retrievers Burt and Toby.
The Fingask has a magnificent shared entrance hall accessed by a security entry system. Through an ornate carved archway and to one side of the grand staircase, a huge original panelled timber door opens into the apartment.
By far the most impressive space is the drawing room. Its timber panel walls, bossed ceiling and wooden columns are masterworks of ornate carving.
Every boss in the enormous ceiling has its own unique and individually carved design. The same goes for the wonderful fireplace and the window surrounds, where two ferocious satyrs hold a timber beam atop their shoulders.
It really is one of the most remarkable rooms you can imagine in a private house. “We think this would have been a library when Arthurstone House was a school,” Jennifer explains. “Even after 15 years here we still sometimes spot little details we never noticed before.”
The couple replaced an old and inefficient gas fire with a large wood burning stove. When I visit, Jennifer’s husband Paul has been out in his Land Rover with his chainsaw. “Storm Arwen brought down so many trees in the grounds of the house,” he says. “We’ve always been self sufficient for firewood here – every winter a storm brings down enough timber to keep us going.”
A glazed door from the drawing room opens onto the Fingask’s private terrace, which overlooks the communal grounds.
Next door to the drawing room is the spacious kitchen. As is the case with the drawing room its windows face southwest, capturing the afternoon and evening sun. A table and chairs sit in the window. “I do quite a lot of craftwork and this is my favourite sunny spot to work,” Jennifer explains.
The Fingask has two bedrooms, a huge principal room with a spacious en suite and a large guest bedroom. There’s also a family bathroom. The guest bedroom and the kitchen both have beautiful vaulted ceilings.
A set of stairs leads down to a gigantic basement level, which has flagstone floors, barrel ceilings and two wine cellars. A wrought iron gate may once have been used by Arthurstone House’s owners to lock valuables away from the servants’ wandering hands.
As well as its own terrace, the Fingask comes with a timber carport and a large garage with power and light.
Towards the opposite end of Arthurstone House is the Lowes. It’s being sold by Ian Rouse and his wife Rozanna. The couple bought the Lowes three years ago after previously living in Chatham and Aberdeenshire.
The Lowes is a four-bedroom house accessed from the courtyard at Arthurstone House. A huge timber-and-metal-studded front door has a sliding viewing hatch in it that Ian theatrically throws open.
This section of Arthurstone House would once have housed the kitchen and servants’ quarters. There’s no whiff of serfdom about the property now, however. It’s a luxury home any family would be pleased to live in.
The country-style kitchen has a vaulted ceiling and is well appointed, with a central island, dining area and views over the courtyard.
The living room faces the front of the house. It has a window and a set of glazed doors that open onto a private terrace. A wood burning stove keeps the room warm during the winter months.
Upstairs are four bedrooms, one of which is currently used as a reading room. The master bedroom has a large en suite shower room, and there’s a family bathroom as well as a downstairs WC.
The Lowes has a huge double garage.
Acres of garden
Arthurstone House has 38 acres of grounds with a factor to keep them looking pristine. The vast majority is beautiful parkland. Jennifer and Paul’s golden retrievers happily lollop after me as I explore some of it, stopping now and then for a quick wrestle with each other.
The grounds contain two tennis courts. There’s a curling pond that would once have reliably frozen every winter but has only done so once in the past 15 years, according to Jennifer. It has a delightful wooden changing hut complete with timber shingle roof.
The grounds also feature several acres of mature woodland, while a burn runs down once side of the estate. Ian regularly takes his spaniel for walks here. “There’s a path that takes you round the woods,” he says. “The gardens are a haven for wildlife as well. In the morning the deer are on the grass, and there are beavers around the burn.”
Ian and Rozanna love the area and have moved to a larger home a short distance away. He’s philosophical about selling the Lowes.
“We love old houses and we really enjoy living here. You never truly own an old house like this one. You’re just a custodian of it for a while and you try to look after it before passing it on to the next person.”