A CRUMBLING historic mansion has moved a step closer to being saved after the announcement of a £500,000 Scottish Government grant and the signing of a renovation agreement.
Eighteenth-century Mavisbank House in Midlothian is considered one of Scotland’s most important A-listed buildings and previously featured in the BBC series Restoration, hosted by Griff Rhys-Jones.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced the new cash during a visit to the house, near Loanhead, and also witnessed the signing of a concordat between Historic Scotland, Midlothian Council, the Mavisbank Trust and Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust, which looks to bring the building back into use and open the grounds to the public as a community park.
The Mavisbank Trust aims to raise £12 million to restore the exterior of the house and establish an economically viable, long-term use by adapting the interior to self- catering holiday accommodation and a community facility.
A programme of regular open days will give the public access to the house and there are plans to recreate part of the designed landscape around the building, which will provide volunteering and training opportunities during and after construction.
Ms Hyslop said: “The plans for Mavisbank House will not only enhance Scotland’s rich historic environment but also have the potential to become one of the most beautiful landmarks in the Lothians, delivering significant benefits locally.
“I am pleased that the partner organisations have taken such a joined-up approach.”
Alex Hammond-Chambers, chairman of The Mavisbank Trust, said securing the necessary funding would be a “huge challenge”, but the grant from the Scottish Government was an important step towards reaching that goal.
He added: “We are delighted that the concordat will enable the trust to take forward the project, removing previous barriers to progress and demonstrating a firm commitment to its success by Historic Scotland and Midlothian Council.”
Mavisbank House was commissioned by Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, a key figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, and designed by William Adam, the leading architect of the early 18th century. The interior of the building was devastated by fire in 1973, although its intricately carved exterior remains.
Under the concordat, Midlothian Council will take forward a compulsory purchase order and transfer ownership to the trust once funds are raised. Historic Scotland will then transfer the grounds to the trust.
Kenneth Lawrie, chief executive of Midlothian Council, said: “The council is very pleased to be joining with Historic Scotland and the Mavisbank Trust in securing a future for this historic building.”