Manse at Biggar

M133 Manse at Biggar

Address: Carwood Road, Biggar ML12 6LX
Date: 1896–8
Client: Rev. William Grant Duncan
Authorship: Authorship category 4 (Office) (Office)

Colour photograph of S. elevation

John Honeyman & Keppie received the commission to design a new manse for Biggar Parish Church during a bitter and long-standing dispute between its minister, the Rev. William Grant Duncan, and the local heritors' committee. The minister claimed the existing manse was in a state of uninhabitable disrepair and campaigned for a new building; the heritors favoured carrying out repairs. Probably because of his reputation as a church architect and his connections to Scottish Ecclesiological societies, John Honeyman was consulted on the matter in May 1895, and concluded a new manse would be less costly to the heritors in the long term. 1

John Honeyman & Keppie designed a large and solid, symmetrical, two-storey house with lower two-storey service quarters at its rear and a separate single-storey outbuilding accommodating a coachhouse, stable, washhouse and stores. The manse is built in snecked red rubble sandstone with smooth dressings and quoins. Roofs are hipped and slated; the service quarters have gable-head dormers and overhanging eaves. The principal S. elevation has a central entrance, open-pediment doorcase, and canted bays on the ground floor to either side. Inside, the accommodation was suited to the requirements of a large family and three servants. 2 Originally, the ground floor included drawing room and study to the front, dining room, parlour, kitchens and stores to the rear; on the first floor there were four large bedrooms (two with dressing rooms), nursery, servants' bedroom, bathroom, and ancillary rooms.

Authorship: Two surviving drawings for the house are held at Biggar Museums Trust. Previously, these have been attributed to Mackintosh on stylistic grounds. 3 On closer examination, however, it is clear that neither these drawings nor those in the possession of the current (2013) manse owner, nor a detail drawing held at the National Archives of Scotland are Mackintosh autograph work. They are characteristic examples of drawings produced by John Honeyman & Keppie in the late 1890s, which included Mackintosh-style lettering. The more conventional historical details on the exterior, and those which survive inside the house, suggest the work of John Keppie.

Alternative names: Kirkhouse, Established Church Manse, Parish Church Manse.

Cost from office job book: £2386 1s 8d

Status: Standing building

Current use: Residential (2014)

Listing category: B: Listed as 'Kirkhouse, Carwood Road'

Historic Scotland/HB Number: 22269

RCAHMS Site Number: NT03NW 235

Grid Reference: NT 0402 3818

GPS coordinates: lat = 55.627687, lng = -3.525895   (Map)


1: Brian Lambie, 'Plans for a Country Manse', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 21, Winter/Spring 1979, pp. 4–5; Glasgow Herald, 1 December 1894, p. 9; 5 February 1895, p. 9; 27 April 1895, p. 3; 11 May 1895, p. 4; 3 September 1895, p. 3; 3 April 1896, p. 10; 26 May 1896, p. 11; 11 June 1896, p. 6; 10 July 1896, p. 6. Drawings describing additions and alterations to the existing manse were prepared by Glasgow architects Steele & Balfour in February-March 1896. Edinburgh, National Records of Scotland, RHP45739/1–6.

2: Census 1901, [accessed 12 March 2013].

3: Brian Lambie, 'Plans for a Country Manse', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 21, Winter/Spring 1979, pp. 4–5. It has been claimed that John Honeyman & Keppie's manse design was based on floor plans drawn up in July 1895 by local man, John Lamb Murray, a practising architect in Edinburgh. For reasons of conservation, it has not been possible to view these drawings and thus confirm or disprove this claim for the Mackintosh Architecture project. Edinburgh, National Records of Scotland, RHP45738/1–2.