Georgian joy restored to Perth townhouse

A neglected townhouse in the city’s South Inch has seen a remarkable transformation, finds Kirsty McLuckie

Number 23 Marshall Place in Perth is a beautiful Georgian terraced townhouse with a commanding view of green space to the south of the city centre.The terrace, designed by the eminent classicist Robert Reid, dates from the early 1800s and overlooks South Inch park.

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A detail of the original staircase. Picture Strutt & Parker

It was the starting point for an ambitious scheme for a southern New Town in Perth, consisting of Georgian terraces along similar lines to Reid’s northern extension of Edinburgh’s New Town.The plans for Marshall Place were commissioned in 1801 and number 23 was completed in 1808.Current owners Ian and Reseda Muir were living in an apartment elsewhere on Marshall Place, when the townhouse was put up for sale in 2001.

The dining room is on the elevated ground floor an adjoins the kitchen. Picture Strutt & Parker

The couple work as architects at Muir Walker Pride, which has offices in Perth and St Andrews, and have had considerable experience in renovating period properties both for themselves and clients, but even so number 23 represented a challenge.Ian says: “We have done a lot of restoration work on historic buildings, but this one had been run as a bed and breakfast for many years.“It was definitely a labour of love to restore and took around three and a half years in total.”Many of the original features were missing, panel doors had been smashed, the skirtings and some cornicings were gone and fireplaces had been blocked up.But the house also needed rewiring, a central heating system installed and the bathrooms and kitchen required attention.

The master bedroom suite is on the top floor. Picture Strutt & Parker

“The windows were a mix of uPVC, aluminium frames and old timber, so they have been replaced with sash and case,” explains Ian.“We were basically restoring it right back to what it would have been in 1808.”To do this they trawled auction houses and reclamation yards for fittings, such as chimney pieces.The woodwork that did remain in the house was taken out, stripped and reinstated, with specialist joiners matching portions where pieces were missing.One task was to install cast-iron railings along the front of the building, which Ian believes were taken out during the Second World War. Working from one or two remnants, a local foundry was able to match and recast the rest.Nowadays, your eyes are drawn to the beautiful ornate cornice work, a fine curving cantilevered staircase, and beautiful details such as the working shutters, panelled wooden doors and feature fireplaces.

The front garden of 23 Marshall Place, Perth. Picture Strutt & Parker

The layout is over four storeys with two bedrooms and a utility room on the lower ground level, a kitchen and adjoining dining room on the elevated ground floor, a grand drawing room and guest bedroom suite on the first, and a master bedroom with luxury bathroom on the top floor.One neat trick in a house of this age is fitting all the 21st-century comforts without distracting from the genuine Georgian feel.The house is wired to a Bang and Olufsen sound system in the public rooms and there is programmable mood lighting.

The first floor sitting room. Picture Strutt & Parker

Outside, the gardens were planned and landscaped by the Muirs, including the instalation of a pond feature to the rear. In fact, Ian and Reseda did much of the non-specialist tasks in the house.The view over parkland at the front is wonderful and a sunken patio catches the sun as the house is fully south facing.It offers a feeling of living in the countryside in the centre of town and means the house’s principal rooms are flooded with sunlight.For a style that is more than 200 years old, Georgian townhouses offer a great foundation for modern life.Ian says: “As an architect, you appreciate the scale, proportion and form, the size of windows as well as the quality of detail. That’s not to say you can’t design that in a modern house, but it is definitely using the same principles.”Those in Edinburgh might make another comparison, particularly when you consider the eye-watering price of a similar property in the Capital.

Offers over £450,000, contact Strutt and Parker on 01738 783350.