The origins of the Estate can be traced back to the fourteenth century when a castle – the stronghold of the Earl’s of Home (ancestors of the famed philosopher David Hume) – stood here. It was destroyed in 1548, but was rebuilt, only to be lost to time (and maybe some marauding enemies).
Robert Burns visiting Dunglass in 1787
In 1807, ownership of Dunglass passed into the Hall family and work began on a new Mansion House – designed by Richard Crichton – on the site where the Castle once stood. The Mansion House was completed in 1813 and its interiors were lavishly decorated in the Romantic style.
In 1919, Francis James Usher bought Dunglass from the Hall family. Sadly, by the 1940s, both time and the demands of the war effort had taken their toll on Dunglass and the historic house had fallen into disrepair. Faced with a house that could not be saved, the Ushers arranged for the Mansion to be demolished (according to family legend, rather a lot of dynamite was involved). The current Dunglass House was built on the site in the late 1950s and is now available as a private let.
Many historic buildings remain on the Estate, most notably Dunglass Church, which dates back to the 1400s. A stunning “secret” walled garden – built around the time of the old mansion – still survives and has been lovingly restored.
Today Dunglass is a thriving agricultural estate, as well as a popular venue for a wide range of events, providing numerous families with the perfect backdrop to create some history of their own.
The Usher family came to Dunglass in 1919 and remain there to this day. Its current owners, Simon and Joyce Usher, are the fourth generation to care for the Estate.
Famed for their philanthropy – Simon’s ancestor, Andrew Usher, donated funds to build a city hall in Edinburgh in 1896 – the Usher family fortune has its roots in the whisky trade.
Andrew Usher began experimenting with the blending of whisky in the 1840s. His business, although successful, was comparatively small in scale, as whisky was largely unheard of outside Scotland and Ireland at that time. After his death, his sons, Andrew and John, took over the business, expanding it beyond the local market and helping raise the profile of “the water of life” around the world.
John’s son, Francis, purchased Dunglass in 1919, and the Estate has been in the family ever since.
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