WHAT: B-listed six-bedroomed villa
WHERE: Bo’ness, West Lothian
COST: Offers over £725,000
CONTACT: McEwan Fraser Legal 0131 524 9797
PROVOST George Cadell Stewart had the right idea when he designed his grand Bo’ness home, The Knowe.
In 1876, the shipping magnate – who also founded the town’s annual Children’s Fair Festival - commissioned a dramatic lookout turret to allow him to watch for his ships returning up the Forth.
Nowadays, this little space at the top of a spiral staircase has seats to enjoy a panorama which stretches over the water and as far inland as the Trossachs and the Wallace Monument.
The turret is not the only room in this fantastic family home which boasts impressive views – nor is it the only reminder of the building’s rich architectural pedigree.
Designed by famous Edinburgh architect Alexander Porteous, it was extended in 1905 and again in 1912 by eminent Arts and Crafts architect Matthew Steele, and is considered one of the finest examples of his work.
Above the half landing sits a beautiful window, attributed to one of Scotland’s finest stained glass artists, Daniel Cottier, and throughout the house there are wonderful period features such as Baltic wood panelling, Victorian tiled floors, art nouveau brass door furniture and intricate plasterwork cornicing on the ceilings. The wood panelled reception hall has a mahogany staircase with turned spindles, which passes the splendid Cottier stained glass window.
On occasions, the house has been visited by historical societies and viewed on Doors Open Days and the eminent Sir Nikolaus Pevsner made a special mention of it in his architectural guides to Edinburgh and the Lothians.
The property’s interesting past and spectacular views appealed to current owner David Young, who has lived there with his family since 2004.
“The views across the Firth of Forth and the Ochils are wonderful,” he explained. “It is a peaceful and quiet place to live – even though you are in the town itself, you are not overlooked and there is plenty of space.
“It has been a brilliant family home for us.”
The Knowe is located in the heart of a conservation area in the coastal town of Bo’ness.
It has an air of mystery and romance – qualities which probably appealed to previous owner Eileen Townsend, author of a range of novels including Of Woman Born and The Secret Dancer.
From the moment you drive through the large stone pillars and wooden gates, it is obvious that The Knowe is a rare find.
A short drive from Edinburgh, close to the motorway network, airport and Linlithgow railway station, it is nevertheless a little pocket of peace and quiet. The house is surrounded by 1.7 acres of woodland, manicured gardens and beautiful grounds, including a magnificent Victorian summer house, a glass house, garage and workshop, a kennel and a dog run.
Inside, there are more original features and traditional charm to uncover. Highlights include the impressive dining room, with a stone fireplace, extensive wood panelling and herringbone oak flooring; and a separate, cosy sitting room, complete with Queen Anne Wedgewood Fireplace.
The panelled ground floor bathroom contains an original cast-iron bath on claw feet and the attractive kitchen is a spacious modern area boasting a gas-fired Aga in a tiled fireplace, as well as a built-in electric oven and gas hob, complemented by granite and wooden work surfaces and country-style, fitted wooden units.
The open plan family room is fantastic - ceiling to floor glass windows overlooking the Firth of Forth, tastefully decorated in relaxing colours, with a woodburning stove.
The ground floor also includes a wine store and a butler’s pantry, plus an office/library, which has the potential to an additional bedroom or playroom, and a spacious utility room.
On the first floor, the grand wood-panelled drawing room includes ceiling panels featuring the original owner’s coat of arms, and of course, even more breathtaking views.
There are five bedrooms, including a charming wood-panelled nursery, and two modern bathrooms on this floor. Some of the bedrooms still have wash hand basins fitted.
A rear staircase leads to the second floor and an imposing billiard room with oriel windows taking further advantage of the view, and a sixth bedroom, which has an art nouveau fireplace.
“One of the lovely things about this house is its location,” adds David. “You can be in Edinburgh in half an hour, the Trossachs in 45 minutes. We are sad to be leaving.
“It’s hard to say which room is my favourite – I love the kitchen, which is where we tend to live, because of the view and the AGA. The family room is fantastic, and the billiard room is perfect when you have friends round…”
He adds: “Most of all, we will really miss the view, of course. The Knowe is a special - homes like this are hard to come by.”