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7 bedroom detached house for sale

Old Dunira House Site, Dunira Estate, Comrie, Crieff, PH6

Offers Over £750,000

Property Description

Key features

  • Consent for 875m house
  • 275m staff house & garages
  • by James Denholm Partnership
  • Formation of former gardens
  • Mature trees
  • Access by tree lined drive
  • Outstanding views
  • About 17.5 acres in all

Full description

Tenure: Freehold

Site and "lost gardens" of former mansion house


Dunira lies in some of the most attractive and accessible countryside in Scotland. The land rises from the fertile farmland on the banks of the River Earn through wooded hillsides to spectacular and rugged mountain tops.

Despite its Highland surroundings, Edinburgh and Glasgow with their international airports are both just over an hour's drive away, making it readily accessible.

The village of Comrie lies approximately two miles east of the main estate driveway, at the meeting of Glens Lednock and Artney. Predominantly stone built houses line the main street and the village offers a good range of shops and businesses.
Crieff, 9 miles to the east, offers a more extensive range of services, and the county town of Perth has all the services expected of a major town, including a well-known theatre and a concert hall.

There are excellent private schools locally, with Ardvreck Preparatory School and Morrison's Academy both in Crieff; Glenalmond is about 18 miles to the east.

Perthshire is renowned for the high quality of its traditional sport, including both red and roe deer stalking, salmon fishing, pheasant and grouse shooting. Gleneagles Hotel lies within about 16 miles. The golf courses here are of international repute, whilst the shooting school, riding school and school of falconry, together with the health club, offer further recreation. More locally, there are golf courses at Comrie, Crieff and St Fillans. Loch Earn (about 3 miles) offers a variety of water sports.



In 1784, Henry Dundas, variously described as the "uncrowned king of Scotland" and "the absolute dictator of Scotland", purchased Dunira along with neighbouring estates, extending to 20,000 acres. He was created Viscount Melville and Baron Dunira in 1802. He died at Dunira in 1811 and is commemorated by the 72ft high obelisk which is a dominant feature of the landscape on Monument Hill to the north of Comrie. In 1799 Sarah Murray wrote of Dunira in her travel journal, "Beauties of Scotland": "I came to the most singular spot, I believe, in the world; singular to a degree, by nature, and made beautiful by a little assistance from art."

The estate was sold in 1824 to Sir Robert Dundas of Beechwood, a principal Clerk of the Court of Session. The Victorian Dunira House was commissioned by his son, Sir David Dundas and designed by the architect William Burn in 1852. The estate remained in the possession of the family until the second decade of the 20th century.

The estate was sold in 1919 to a wealthy Glasgow ship owner called Alexander Macbeth who shortly afterwards gifted it to his son William. William modernised the Victorian mansion and hired the noted landscape architect Thomas Mawson to create a garden. Mawson, the pre-eminent landscape architect and garden designer of his time, worked extensively at home and abroad and was known as the "Capability Brown of Empire". He fell under the spell of Dunira's magnificent setting and described it as: "One of the most beautiful estates it has ever been my pleasure to study". Nevertheless, in his autobiography he was less than complimentary about what he found there: "Originally what passed for the gardens was a number of uninteresting grass slopes, unrelieved by flower bed or shrub, to all appearances arranged by a waterworks engineer with railway experience." Mawson was given a free hand to replan the gardens as he wanted, without any apparent restriction on budget. His design solution comprised strong axial lines, hard architectural features (walls, paths and water features) softened by planting and separate areas devoted to different activities.

Mawson was given a free hand to replan the gardens as he wanted, without any apparent restriction on budget. His design solution comprised strong axial lines, hard architectural features (walls, paths and water features) softened by planting and separate areas devoted to different activities.

In its heyday, Dunira was considered to be the finest garden in Scotland. It is exceptionally well documented; Mawson included a description of making of the garden, with a detailed plan, in the final edition of his folio manual, "The Art and Craft of Garden Making", published in 1926. An article about the garden was published in Country Life in March 1931. In 1937 William Macbeth put Dunira on the market, and a sumptuous sale catalogue was produced, documenting the estate as it then
was. The estate, which then covered almost 7,000 acres, did not sell.

More recently, Dunira was one of eight "Lost Gardens" featured in a Channel 4 television series and in the book of the same name by Andrea Jones, published in 2000. Mawson's rose garden was restored for the television series but has not been maintained. Most recently, Janet Waymark's biography of Mawson, "Thomas Mawson: Life, Gardens and Landscapes" gives a detailed account of the creation of the garden and those involved in the work, which took three years and cost over £3,000.

The house was used as a military convalescent home during World War II. In 1947, with some patients still in residence and the Macbeth family preparing to move back in, a catastrophic fire reduced the house to a charred ruin, William Macbeth died in 1948 and Dunira was sold by his widow in 1950. The estate was subsequently broken up and, without the house as its raison d'être, the garden slipped slowly but inexorably into decay. The last remnants of the house were demolished in 2006.


The Old Dunira House site comprises approximately 17 acres within Dunira Estate, in a beautiful landscape setting.
The site currently has planning consent for a new house of approximately 875m2 and a staff house, garages and stores of 275m2.

Any purchaser of the site has the option to design a house to suit their own needs. This will require an application for a change of house type via the Planning Department of Perth and Kinross Council and agreeing an acceptable design with them. The critical thing is that the principle of reinstating a house on this site has been established.

Whether creating a version of the original property or a new house for the needs of a future owner, this is a rare opportunity to build a substantial house within a potentially beautiful garden setting.

The site is within Dunira Estate, which is in separate ownership, and there are rights of access to the site for normal, domestic vehicles through the main Dunira Estate drive and linking across the field to Old Dunira House, or by what are known as the "green gates", which are further west. This entrance could be used for commercial and construction traffic as well as being used on a daily basis by the future owners.

What were once stunning gardens are now in a poor state of repair, overgrown and unmanaged.

Part of the consent to construct a major new house on the site requires the restoration of the gardens back to a managed and cared-for condition. The basic structure of the original gardens is still evident and documented, and this has to be looked upon as an exciting restoration project which would ultimately create a very special place to live. The "Lost Gardens" restoration of the rose garden, although since abandoned, demonstrated the potential.


Rights to private water supply off the hill and to right to lead in supply from mains.

The existing access is from the drive to the west. There is a right to create a new access off
the main drive.

Anderson Strathern
1 Rutland Court
Tel: 0131 2707700
Fax: 0131 270 7788

The property is sold subject to and with the benefit of all servitude rights, burdens, reservations and wayleaves, including rights of access and rights of way, whether public or private, light, support, drainage, water and wayleaves for masts, pylons, stays, cable, drains and water, gas and other pipes, whether contained in the Title Deeds or informally constituted and whether referred to in the General Remarks and Stipulations or not. The Purchaser(s) will be held to have satisfied
himself as to the nature of all such servitude rights and others.

Offers, in Scottish legal form, must be submitted by your solicitor to the Selling Agents. It is intended to set a closing date but the seller reserves the right to negotiate a sale with a single party. All genuinely interested parties are advised to instruct their solicitor to note their interest with the Selling Agents immediately after inspection.

A deposit of 10% of the purchase price may be required. It will be paid within 7 days of the
conclusion of Missives. The deposit will be non-returnable in the event of the Purchaser(s) failing to complete the sale for reasons not attributable to the Seller or his agents.

Strictly by appointment with Savills - 0131 247 3700.


Savills, their clients and any joint agents give notice that:
1. They are not authorised to make or give any representations or warranties in relation to the
property either here or elsewhere, either on their own behalf or on behalf of their client or
otherwise. They assume no responsibility for any statement that may be made in these particulars. These particulars do not form part of any offer or contract and must not be relied upon as statements or representations of fact

2. Any areas, measurements or distances are approximate. The text, photographs and plans are for guidance only and are not necessarily comprehensive. It should not be assumed that the property has all necessary planning, building regulation or other consents and Savills have not tested any services, equipment or facilities. Purchasers must satisfy themselves by inspection or otherwise.

Square Footage: 9,418 sq ft
Acreage: 17.5 Acres


To reach Dunira from Comrie take the A85 westwards. The well-established beech hedge and main gates to the estate will be seen on the right after about 1.5 miles. Continue past the main gates and take the next turning into the private road on the right hand side. Follow this drive to the right, passing some houses and continue on. Old Dunira Site is in the trees on the right hand side.

More information from this agent

Listing History

Added on Rightmove:
22 March 2016

Map & Street View

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