From the 18th Century to the present day, Argrennan has had comparatively few owners. It is perhaps only on its fourth family.
In the past, it has been referred to as an “Adam” house, referring to the Neoclassical style of William Adam and his sons, but the thinking now is that the property was the work of the architect James Gillespie Graham, who was renowned for his ability to add to existing houses in a sympathetic way.
Indeed, a 19th-Century addition to the property totally remodelled the south side of Argrennan.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it is a stunning house, inside and out. The current owner, Alistair Flanagan, bought it in 2004 and has undertaken a programme of works to bring it back to life and make it fit for the 21st Century.
He says: “I grew up in the area, but didn’t even know the house existed until it was advertised for sale. The former owners were two ladies in their 90s, and the only people who were allowed in were the grocer and the plumber.”
The house represented an opportunity for Alistair, who had just sold his engineering business. “I’d spent ten years in a very high-stress job, and I just wanted somewhere quiet and private. I came to see the house in a helicopter, and flying over the grounds I knew I was going to buy it. It was the setting that sold it, the house was a bonus, but if there had been nothing here I would still have bought it.”
He was told that he was competing at the closing date with several ex-pat bankers. The fact that Alistair carried the day was probably a blessing, however, considering the practical considerations of the work that needed to be done and his hands-on experience.
Alistair began his career in heating and plumbing and says it was fortunate that he had both the budget and the skills to save the building: “It was in a sorry state, with a new roof needed, water saturating the plaster inside, and no central heating.”
Tackling such things is not the way most people would choose to de-stress, but Alistair insists that the project was exactly what he’d envisaged when he stepped back from his business. “I’ve enjoyed getting it right. It has been fun to do.
“Tasks like designing and building a golf course, or creating pathways through the woods, have been an absolute joy. I’ve improved everything and it gives me a real lift.”
Seven years ago, he married his wife, Gail, in the house, and they have offered it since as an exclusive wedding venue. The setting, particularly the walled garden, could not be more romantic.
The house has 12 bedrooms and six principal reception rooms. It has some spectacular features, such as the beautiful Georgian kitchen on the lower floor – there is a modern kitchen on the ground floor too – and an impressive staircase.
The reception rooms are elegant, with a bow-fronted drawing room and details such as Doric columns.
The 46-acre grounds are magnificent and include two picturesque cottages, as well as woods with ornamental ponds and sweeping lawns, a water garden, the stunning walled garden of almost two acres, and a secret garden.
For a sporting family there is not only a nine-hole golf course, but a two-mile beat on the River Dee for salmon fishing. The same ghillie has looked after the stretch for 52 years.
Alistair says: “The gardens were in much better condition than the house when we took over, and so we have been able to maintain and add to them. There is nothing better than to close the gates and just enjoy the house and its private surroundings.”
Argrennan House, Castle Douglas offers over £2.75m
For more information, contact Strutt & Parker on 01738 783 350.