The views extend over to Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, and you might say that Glenmayne’s architecture is a homage to the style almost single-handedly invented by the great writer.
The house was commissioned by John Murray of Galashiels in 1866. Coming from humble origins, he became one of the greatest wool brokers in the world.
Glenmayne was designed by renowned architect Charles Kinnear, while the celebrated Robert Lorimer added a library extension in 1913, as well as imposing front gates for the driveway.
The house has always attracted global attention. In 1877, US President Ulysses S Grant paid a visit, and in 1997 it is said that Michael Jackson viewed it when he was looking to buy a Scottish base.
Current owners Mark and Wendy Gilbert bought the now A-listed Glenmayne in 2003, moving up from Lancashire. Mark recalls: “Wendy is Scottish, we are both keen equestrians, and we were looking for something of this quality with land. Our business, in the care sector, is based in the north-west of England and so this was easily accessible.”
The house was structurally very sound, but the Gilberts have completed an extensive redecoration and modernisation project and upgraded the grounds.
Mark explains: “Just furnishing alone was a big task – the rooms are so large that you can’t just go out and buy suitable pieces, so it has taken many years to acquire antiques in keeping with the house.
“We worked with a company in Melrose called Michael Vee Design over the years. For instance, the wallpaper in the entrance hall came from Paris. It is such a stunning room, with the staircase and the stained glass, that we had to make sure that everything was in keeping.”
He says of the house’s original owner: “I think he was probably the equivalent of a tech billionaire today. He was keen to show everyone his success, and it took five years to build the house. He brought in Italians to carve all the marble for the fireplaces and two lions statues, and the fountain in bronze and marble, which is a copy of the Fontana delle Tartarughe in Rome.
“They built the walled garden and the vine house first – to feed all the workers during the build.”
The walled garden is now home to five horses, in modern stabling with exercise areas.
Although Glenmayne is a large house, Mark says it lends itself well to their needs. “We do have lots of family and friends to stay, but when it is just the two of us, we mainly use the lower ground floor for day-to-day living. The reception rooms upstairs are very grand, so we keep those for entertaining.
“On the first floor, we decided to make four main bedroom suites with dressing rooms and private bathrooms. The house is all centred around the hall, so there is no part that you find that you haven’t been in for years, it is very user-friendly.”
The tower was a boon for the Gilberts when their two sons were teenagers, looking for their own space – and for their grandchildren now. It houses two bedrooms, a living room and the top tower room.
The glasshouse also plays host to dinner parties and adjoins a bothy with a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom so is self-contained.
The seating area under the balustraded stone steps up to French windows in the house is another favoured spot with views of the beautifully manicured gardens.
Mark says: “A house like this has a bigger personality than theowners – we are really just caretakers – but, it has been wonderful to restore it to its full glory and to be able to pass it on in perfect condition.”
Glenmayne House, Galashiels, the Scottish Borders, is priced at offers over £4m.
For more information, contact Knight Frank on 01896 807 013