The settlement’s origins date back to the 13th Century, but the village’s location and layout involves the most celebrated Scottish architect – and the hubris of an aristocrat.
In the 18th Century, the second Earl of Minto – distressed that he was able to see the village from his country seat – decided to have the whole thing moved out of his eyeline, so he consulted the celebrated William Henry Playfair.
Playfair was responsible for much of Edinburgh’s eastern New Town and some of the Capital’s most famous buildings, such as the neoclassical National Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy.
But the architect also designed a new layout for Minto, including its new school, which opened in 1838.
The school is now a residential home and current owner Rob Armstrong relates that the building was substantially modified in the 19th Century: “Playfair designed the oldest part, but it was considerably extended in the Victorian era, adding the spectacular schoolroom in the Gothic style in the 1880s.”
It was this room that first attracted Rob’s attention 12 years ago when he bought the property. He works as an antiques specialist, and realised that the space would make a perfect place to showcase his finds.
He says: “The study worked well as a showroom, but as my business moved more into consultancy and valuing, we made the decision to repurpose it as a holiday let.”
The shepherd’s huts swiftly followed – two are installed in the Schoolhouse’s paddock, but shielded from it for privacy. In his time here, Rob has managed to establish the property as a successful holiday accommodation business, while still using the main house as the family home.
However, the Schoolhouse was not without its challenges in the beginning. He explains: “There was very little insulation, which was a real missed opportunity as facing south-east it gets a lot of heat. Now that it is properly insulated, it is a very easy house to heat.”
The structure had also undergone an undignified ’70s makeover, which Rob was keen to correct. “A lot of original features had been replaced by modern, 1970s materials, such as plywood –everything was dark.”
During the project, the Schoolhouse was stripped back to bare walls, and after the insulation came new plumbing, heating, replastering, and new oak floors.
The finished result could work on a variety of levels. The main house is sizable in itself, with a charm that comes from the features that Rob has worked hard to both retain and reclaim, such as the walnut and mahogany French chateau kitchen, and details like the salvaged18th-Century pine fire surround.
Rob also added an attractive sun room, which now conveniently links the house to a room known as the study. Available for let, it has its own entrance and a four poster bed, sitting area, a kitchen and a raised dining area. There is an ensuite shower room, which, like the rest of the house, has been fitted with Thomas Crapper sanitaryware to underline the period feel.
It would be very easy for the next owner to incorporate the room back into the main house, as Rob’s family have done in periods when it was unoccupied by guests. He says: “It is a great party room and ideal for the kids growing up.”
The shepherd’s huts are also staying, and could just make overflow accommodation for the main house, but Rob says a family could easily live off the income the three letting properties bring in.
After all the work that has gone into the house, Rob says its best feature is one that will never change: “The views are absolutely delightful, probably the best in the Borders, over grazing fields to Ruberslaw, the Teviot Valleys, Minto Hill and beyond.”
- The Schoolhouse, Minto, Scottish Borders, is priced at offers over £900,000
For more information, contact Hastings Legal on 01573-225 999.