Built in 1666, the A-listed Laird’s house has only really been owned by three families in its whole existence.
The layout of the stately home has remained largely unchanged over the centuries, it is still in its original L-shaped plan, with circular turrets, crow stepped gables, a central tower and battlements.
Inside are such traditional delights as a sweeping stone stair, a vaulted ceiling in the dining room and many stone fireplaces.
It was constructed by RobertBruce – Provost of Stirling and descendant of The Bruce. The original building contract belonging is still displayed in the house.
The estate passed through marriage to the Munros in 1708, after an unfortunate Bruce had to flee Scotland after being lucky enough to survive a fatal duel.
In 1787, National Bard Robert Burns stayed here, and recounted in his journal the evening spent dining with the laird of the day – also a poet.
Winston Churchill also visited, staying with a niece who had married into the Munro family. He is said to have written part of his 1933 historical tome The Great War in the first-floor library.
Robert Donnelly and his partner, Connie Alexander, bought Auchenbowie 17 years ago, looking for an equestrian country house with facilities for dressage and showjumping.
The grade-A listing of the house meant the necessary refurbishment and modernisation of the property carried out by Robert and Connie had to be sensitive. Robert explains: “We obviously wouldn't make any structural changes and the work had to be fitted round the original features.” The couple rewired and replumbed Auchenbowie, and have since added a biomass boiler as well as a new oil-fired system.
For such a large floor plan, amazingly every room is now used –the hexagonal tower houses an entrance hall on the ground floor, there are characterful bathrooms on the first and second floors, while the turret rooms make quirky walk-in wardrobes. The panelled library is a highlight, the billiard room is lit by a cupola above the table and the dining room presents a dramatic setting for entertaining.
Robert says: “Because it was built in the 1660s, it was after the fortified, military style of layout, so this is designed much more as a family home and for entertaining, with large windows and welcoming rooms. The three-bedroom flat has allowed us in the past to offer accommodation to a live-in groom.”
The accommodation for four-legged occupants is almost as impressive, as the house has stabling and loose boxes for ten horses, a hay loft, barn and tack rooms. There is also an indoor riding arena, an expansive outdoor riding area and two paddocks.
The garden at Auchenbowie is very well established. The bulk of the surrounding fields is taken up with grazing requirements, but the lawns and shrubs around the house date back decades – if not longer. A sundial in the grounds, dedicated to previous owners, is B-listed. Robert reveals: “It still works, but only if the sun is shining!”
There are ancient lime trees on both sides of Auchenbowie’s garden and topiary yew hedges provide a sheltered outside space. The east driveway is lined by oak trees.
The house offers plenty of opportunities for a lifestyle purchase – as a private dwelling, a hospitality business or building on the potential of its outstanding equestrian facilities.
The tennis court in the garden completes the picture. As Robert says: “We really always felt we had everything here to spend entire weekends doing what we love.”
Auchenbowie House, Stirling, is priced at offers over £1.6m.
For more information, contact Savills on 0131-247 3731.