‘I knew the building needed something major for it to have another 100-150 years of life’
The house was built between 1685 and 1692, although the gardens were planted in 1675, 10 years before a stone was laid for the house, in order that they would be mature by the time the build was finished. The owner and designer was Sir William Bruce, who was initially a merchant. ‘He’s known as the father of Scottish classicism and the Kit of the North, Kit being the nickname of Sir Christopher Wren in England.
‘He wasn’t a very successful merchant, but he was the right man in the right place at the right time. He became the go-between for General Monk and Charles II, and as such was instrumental in putting Charles back on the throne. One of several roles bestowed on him as thanks, was the King’s Surveyor of Buildings in Scotland and this included The Palace of Holyrood House which he remodelled and rebuilt for Charles. He was also the original architect for Hopetoun House. At the time of building Kinross House, William Adam was Bruce’s clerk of works, and Bruce was a huge influence on Adam and his sons. However, politics being as they were at the time when Charles died, Bruce was in and out of favour with the next two Monarchs, and eventually ended up imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle on trumped up charges of treason, for which he was never tried. After that, there’s no record of him and no known grave. He deserves a public monument, in the great Scottish tradition.’
His legacy however has lived on in Kinross House and Donald was determined to ensure that it would do so for the foreseeable future. ‘Whilst I didn’t know exactly what was required, I knew the building needed something major for it to have another 100-150 years of life. With a building like that, you can’t go from room to room patching a bit here and there. I realised it would have to be a root and branch affair. I also