Prestige property: Bewitched by all the Baronial tricks

Meadowhead House by West Calder is a characterful mansion with links to a veritable Who’s Who of famous Scots, from the Bard to the Big Yin.

Dating from the 1700s the house was substantially rebuilt and extended in the late-19th Century by JG Fairley, the noted Scottish architect, as his own home.

Fairley is responsible for many of West Lothian’s churches. The quirky house on Dean Bridge in Edinburgh is also one of his projects and some of the same features – Scots Baronial style on a domestic scale – are present here.

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In the Illustrated Architectural Guide to West Lothian, the authors describe Meadowhead as having: “All the baronial tricks: string courses, shallow corbelling, slender crowstepped gables and an enormous dormer window.”

Meadowhead House, Addiewell, West Lothian

The mansion house became a hotel in 1954, but reverted to private ownership in 1994.

Moi Ali, who bought the property with her husband, Paul Wilson, 23 years ago, says they were attracted by the character and the space the house offered when the couple were looking to move out of Edinburgh.

She recalls: “We wanted a house with a garden – seclusion but not isolation – in easy reach of the city.”

Moi is an author of books on communication, and Paul has recently retired as an NHS manager. Both travel for work, and West Lothian has proved a perfect base.

Meadowhead House, Addiewell, West Lothian

And their family has really enjoyed Meadowhead’s unique features. The stunning entrance hall has original parquet floors and an oak-beamed ceiling. The top-floor tower room, with windows on all sides, acts as Paul’s study with its vaulted ceiling and fireplace.

Ornate wood panelling is found throughout the house, most of it original to the 130 year-old remodelling, but some salvaged later from a Scottish castle.

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The single storey stone-built Great Hall, in a former byre, has a separate entrance so could be used as an annexe, studio, offices or gym. Previously the hotel’s function room, Moi and Paul have retained its dance floor and the former says it has seen a myriad of uses, particularly when their two children were younger. “We’ve had a bouncy castle in there, huge sleepovers and magic shows. It was also great for teenagers – they could play music with friends and not disturb us.”

Meadowhead House, Addiewell, West Lothian

Two plaster corbels built into the house commemorate visits of both Burns and Sir Walter Scott, while as a hotel it hosted many well-known acts. Moi says: “Billy Connolly’s band, the Humblebums, were regulars and we meet people still who came to see Mud and the Walker Brothers here.”

The couple have done a tremendous amount of restoration work. Moi explains: “There were structural things that needed tackling, such as the roof and rot work – all the things you can’t see but that cost a lot of money.

“We’ve just put in a new boiler so we feel that everything that is costly and boring has been done – perfect for the next owner.”

The garden needed work too. Moi says: “Because it had been a hotel, there was a lot of tarmac and it was a major job to take up, cart it away and replace it with lawns.” Paul completed a dry-stone dyking course during the landscaping and added borders and shrubs.

Meadowhead House, Addiewell, West Lothian

It made the outside space ideal for a young family. Moi says: “Close the gate and it is completely safe to have adventures, build dens and camp.”

A steading in the grounds is now a picturesque ruin. Moi says it offers potential to the next owner: “We haven't cleared it because we know because the footprint is there, you could build on it in the future.

“We bought with planning consent for three or four houses so there is a precedent. The house could appeal to a family – for now – who are also interested in developing the site before they leave.”

Meadowhead House, Addiewell, West Lothian, is priced at offers over £750,000.

For more information, contact Knight Frank on 0131-222 9600.

Meadowhead House, Addiewell, West Lothian
Meadowhead House, Addiewell, West Lothian
Meadowhead House, Addiewell, West Lothian