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Kirkmichael House: Inside centuries-old Perthshire property that boasts stunning extension

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You don’t own old houses, you’re just the custodian of them – and that’s certainly the case with Kirkmichael House.

Once the manse to Kirkmichael Parish Church, the centuries-old property has been extended and modernised into a beautiful family home.

For those not in the know, Kirkmichael is a charming little village midway between Blairgowrie and Pitlochry.

Set on the River Ardle with a backdrop of hills and woodland, it’s a glorious location for lovers of the outdoors.

In fact, it sits on the Cateran Trail – a 64 mile circular walking route that starts in Blairgowrie and takes in Spittal of Glenshee, Kirkton of Glenisla, and Alyth.

With a primary school, village shop, pub and hotel, Kirkmichael has a bustling little community of its own.

Ken and Moira Thomson bought Kirkmichael House around two and a half years ago. The house sits on an elevated site near the easternmost end of the village. A sloping driveway leads up from the road to a parking area at the front of the home.

Moira ushers me in and the couple’s two-year old dog Molly races up and down the hall, spinning in circles with excitement at her new visitor before accepting a treat and disappearing into the snug to eat it.

Centuries old

The main part of Kirkmichael House dates from 1760 but it’s believed a property has stood there for centuries longer than that.

“We’ve tried to ascertain just how long there’s been a building here for but that information seems to have been lost in the mists of time,” Moira explains. “The previous owners said they thought Oliver Cromwell once spent a night here, but we haven’t been able to confirm that and it might just be an urban legend.”

Kirkmichael House has a pretty timber front porch that opens into a welcoming reception hallway with wooden flooring.

A spacious living room has dual aspect windows and a large wood burning stove. “We’re having friends to stay for a few days and we’ll probably get the stove going in the evenings so it’s nice and cosy,” Moira smiles.

Opposite the living room is the dining room. Painted in a deep red with wooden flooring, a tartan rug and an open fire, it has a warm and traditional feel to it.

Heart of the home

At the heart of Kirkmichael House is a terrific country kitchen. A large central island and a dining table provide plenty of space for guests to hang out. Moira is using the oil fired AGA to bake what smells like some very tasty sweet treats for her guests.

Off the living room lies a cosy snug/TV room. This has an open fire, wall mounted television, and fantastic floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that are filled to the brim with all manner of reading material.

“Both Ken and I are bookworms,” Moira continues. “When we moved house by far the heaviest part of the move was all the boxes of books. This is just a small part of our collection. We’re also lucky in having a lot of nice reading spots here.”

One of those spots is the conservatory which sits to the side of the house with a doorway from the kitchen. It faces west, looking over the back garden, and gets the sun all afternoon and evening. I can imagine myself curling up here with a good book and a pot of coffee.

Converted outbuildings

Up a couple of steps is the wonderful family room. Converted from two old stone outbuildings, it has a vaulted ceiling that leaps upwards to full roof height. In a nice architectural touch, an entire section of the roof is glazed. Not only does this look superb, it also fills the room with natural daylight.

Bi-folding doors enable the room to be opened to the garden and throw in even more light. A wall of fitted bookshelves contain even more of the couple’s extensive book collection.

Ken and Moira have the space set up as a study but it could be used as a family room, dining room or living room.

A doorway above head height opens into what was once a hayloft and is now used for extra storage. “The only way up there is by a ladder,” Moira says. “It’s floored and lined, though, and has a Velux window fitted. You could easily install a staircase and turn it into a study.”

Upstairs is a spacious landing. The principal bedroom has a doorway through to a large dressing room that could potentially be converted into an en suite bathroom.

A couple of steps lead to a guest bedroom which has its own en suite with bath and separate shower. There are two more bedrooms and a family bathroom on the first floor.

Another flight of stairs leads up to an attic level. This has a sitting area on the landing, two double bedrooms and a shower room. From this elevation the views across the valley to the hills beyond is quite breath-taking.

“The attic level is perfect for teenagers,” Moira says. “They can have their own space up here and the adults can be well out of earshot downstairs.”

Beautiful garden

Heating and hot water for Kirkmichael House is provided by a biomass boiler. Both the family room and the conservatory benefit from underfloor heating.

The beautiful garden extends to around two thirds of an acre. Past the parking area at the front of the house is a pretty little stretch of lawn surrounded by shrubs, wildflowers and trees. A rough path snakes upwards into the woodland.

“We like to keep parts of the garden a little bit wild,” Ken says. “Our land extends up to the field above and all the way down to the road. That part’s quite steep and not very usable but it’s nice to have a bit of wilderness and it gives us good privacy.”

The large rear garden is also well screened thanks to a belt of trees and shrubs. Ken and Moira’s hens roost happily in the shade of some bushes and Molly wanders over to give them a quick sniff before heading on to explore the rest of the garden.

“We get a lot of wildlife here,” Ken says. “Deer graze in the garden most mornings. We get rabbits and red squirrels here too.”

Stone outbuildings attached to the main house offer plenty of storage – and have the potential to be turned into further accommodation or even an annex cottage.

A glass overhang stretches out across the patio. Not only does it keep rain off your head, the solar gain means you can sit outside and be warm even on cooler days.

Ken and Moira are planning to move to England to be closer to elderly parents. “We’ve really enjoyed our time here,” Ken says. “Having all this wonderful countryside around us is definitely something we’ll miss.”


Kirkmichael House is on sale with Savills for offers over £585,000.