By Alex Jones
A STUNNING mansion nestled in Scotland’s lush landscape – built by the son of a servant who forged his way to becoming one of South America’s richest men – could be yours for £1.5M.
Photos of the glorious Tillycorthie Mansion House, and the meticulously well-kept nine-acre grounds which surround it, showcase the baronial property’s gorgeous tropically-themed glass-roofed courtyard, a lavishly-appointed dining suite, perfect for hosting roaring dinner parties, and the spectacular Spanish-style architecture which sets this eye-catching property apart.
The remarkable 11-bedroom property, located near the village of Udny some 11 miles north of Aberdeen, is currently on the market with Savills estate agency for a cool £1,500,000.
The result of one of Scotland’s most impressive rags-to-riches stories, Tillycorthie Mansion was built for James Rollo Duncan, a local entrepreneur who spent his life between Bolivia and Aberdeenshire. Born into grim circumstances as the unwanted son of a servant, Duncan was forced to become a shepherd at the tender age of 10, then a herring fisherman, and later served his apprenticeship as a stonemason. Seeking a better life for himself, he raised enough money to travel to Bolivia, following crowds of Europeans across the Atlantic Ocean to make their fortune in Latin America in the 1880s.
Utilising his masonry skills, he worked for a spell as a miner before moving up the ranks to open his own mine and cash in on the height of the tin mine boom. Steadily he developed his interests and remained in the country for over 30 years. Adjoining mines were acquired, and Duncan soon became one of the country’s leading owners. Alas, the story of meteoric and metallic rise is not without its darker undertones, as photographs taken by Duncan himself show a number women and children working in his South American mines in dangerous, cramped conditions.
The mine mogul visited Scotland on several occasions, but it wasn’t until 1911 that he returned to take up permanent residence, joined by his new wife Isabella, an Aberdeenshire woman who had also travelled to South America in hopes of a better life. Looking for a home which reflected their South American story, they built Tillycorthie Mansion House – one of the very first Scottish homes to be built using reinforced concrete.
The wealthy couple lived the rest of their lives in the magnificent house, with Duncan taking a keen interest in local agriculture. He passed away in 1938 and was survived by his wife of 15 years. Following Isabella’s passing, the house lay abandoned nearly 30 years before it was bought and immaculately refurbished by the current owners to its present condition.
“From the period paints and wallcoverings to the silk window drapes and waxed parquet floors, Tillycorthie Mansion House is a supreme example of a property that has been fortunate enough to have been rescued and restored to its former glory,” explains Fiona Gormley of Savills.
“The opportunity to acquire a period mansion house which has been fully refurbished with such meticulous attention to detail is rare indeed. Since acquiring the property the current owners have lavished much energy, passion and expense to ensure that Tillycorthie has been reinstated to its former glory. The many ornate fireplaces all have open chimneys and are fully functional. Moulded ceilings, cornice work and ceiling roses are in abundance. Grooved door frames, deep skirting boards, panelled doors and original oak parquet flooring have been lovingly waxed and polished.”
From the initial ‘wow’ of the palm courtyard, filled with light and greenery, the house has been designed to impress. There’s a traditional library, home to beautiful carved and intricate glass fronted display cases – as well as an elegant drawing room and a cellar capable of holding 3,000 wine bottles. The heart of the home is the particularly generous dining sized presentation kitchen fitted with an extensive and comprehensive range of luxury bespoke handmade cabinets, complemented by granite work surfaces.
The 11 bedrooms are each singularly characterful, as are the various drawing-rooms. There is a cocktail bar, with a gleaming black and white porcelain-tiled floor, as well as a Christmas Room, where you can warm up in front of the fire on chilly winter days.
A sweeping staircase joins the ground floor to the second, opening up onto a selection of large suites. The master bedroom, located in the east wing, embraces light and size; bay and side windows accentuate streams of light, and the double-ended bath, en suite dressing room and walk-in shower cater for every need. Further rooms include the Purple Room and the Chinese Room, the latter ornamented by a corner bath and separate shower.
In the opposite west wing can be found the principal bedroom, with a rear bay window and en suite shower room. The west wing offers the ideal space for independent and multi-generational living, aided by a further bedroom, butler’s bedroom, butler’s kitchen and an informal sitting room – ‘cosy’ – and bathroom.
Two Seismic rooms, historically used for academic purpose by university students are untouched with their five original Seismic tables. There’s also a gym for the fitness minded.
Extending onto the external tower space, a roof top terrace providing sumptuous views across the rolling hills of Scotland.
For more information, please visit https://search.savills.com/property-detail/gbabrsabs150046