History of Mount Stuart

Mount Stuart

A Rich History

The current Mount Stuart is one of the most outstanding Gothic Revival buildings in the British Isles, and the vision of the 3rd Marquess of Bute – arguably the greatest architectural patron of the 19th century.

People have lived for centuries on the land which Mount Stuart now occupies. Originally the site of a prehistoric settlement during the Bronze Age, the landscape offers fertile farmland and beautiful views: the perfect combination for a country estate. The first Mount Stuart, designed in the Georgian style by Alexander McGill in approximately 1716 was lived in by four generations of the Bute family who prepared and executed various improvements to both House and Gardens. However, a fire gutted the central block of the House in 1877, leaving only the wings of the original building intact.

The first Mount Stuart tragically burned down in 1877. The only original features which remain are the white-harled wings of the house, one of which mercifully contains the magnificent Burges chapel.

The current Mount Stuart is one of the most outstanding Gothic Revival buildings in the British Isles, and the vision of the 3rd Marquess of Bute – arguably the greatest architectural patron of the 19th century. Sir Robert Rowand Anderson prepared plans for this second Mount Stuart in 1879 and construction began in 1880. Work continued up until 1912, and the House – spectacular though it is – remains unfinished to this day. The interior was decorated by some of the finest craftsmen of the age including the architectural artist Horatio Walter Lonsdale, sculptor Thomas Nicholls, and architect William Frame.

During the 1980s, the 6th Marquess of Bute began an ambitious programme of work on the house – to complete unfinished features, restore existing decoration and create new artistic works. Lord Bute also undertook a major overhaul of the exterior fabric of the building. Projects included the decoration of the Chapel lantern by Tom Errington, etched glass windows by Alison Kinnaird and detailed stone carvings by Peter Regent. Lord Bute sadly passed away before the programme was completed but it (and more recent work) has paved the way for the transformation of Mount Stuart into one of the UK's top visitor attractions.