New role for mansion house at Bute Estate

Craning in the roof beam at Bute Estate's mansion house
Craning in the roof beam at Bute Estate's mansion house

The 370 year-old Bute Estate mansion house opposite Rothesay Castle is set to take on a new function as a mecca for students from both home and abroad, when the current refurbishment works are completed.

The Mount Stuart Trust has revealed plans to turn the historic mansion house into a base for academics and students keen to delve into the world-class Mount Stuart archives as well as the history and development of the island.

Currently stripped back to its stone walls, it was built in the early 17th century and was home to the Crichton Stuart family until 1719, when the new family seat at

The development also includes the old coach house, identified by its arched doorway, and the commercial properties at 61-67 High St., previously occupied by Geo. Hanson.

The first phase has involved stabilising the buildings and bringing them into good repair.

Mount Stuart Trust Projects Manager, Alistair McIntyre, told the Buteman: “All work will be carried out to a very high quality to reflect the importance of those buildings. Being listed buildings they will need to replicate the existing to meet the requirements of Historic Scotland.”

A library and reading room will be established in the ground floor of the mansion house. Two student flats will be created on the first floor, with en-suite and study facilities. The top floor will have a complete flat for the use of senior academics.

The old coach house will be the main reception and meeting hub, with a new-build kitchen and dining room to its rear.

In the vacant ground behind, a 60-seat conference centre will be constructed, surrounded by a landscaped area extending half way to Trinity Church.The conference/lecture room will also double as an arts and crafts area. The roof space of the former commercial premises will be reconfigured to create five residential units for students, with disabled access on the ground floor and a nearby casual lounge in number 63.

Links have already been forged between Mount Stuart Trust and Yale, Glasgow and Dundee Universities, the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and Glasgow School of Art.

In 2016 Alice Martin, head of collections at Mount Stuart, made two trips to Yale to cement those early relationships, while education officer, Morven Gregor, will be speaking to schools about the new opportunities offered in Rothesay.

Various archaeological groups had already expressed interest in making use of the High Street. base.

Alistair McIntyre explained that the intention was to make the hub flexible to attract as diverse a range of users as possible.