Duff House was a hugely expensive project – and a giant status symbol. But the cost of the build was Duff House’s undoing, as client and architect fell out over money.
Duff House was intended as the chief seat of William Duff, Lord Braco (later 1st Earl Fife). The astute businessman and politician wanted not only to succeed, but also to be seen to succeed.
Architect William Adam rose to the challenge by designing an ambitious baroque mansion. Work began in 1735, with elaborate carved details mostly produced in Adam’s own stoneworks in Queensferry.
Work stopped in 1741, long before the interior was finished. Copies of Adam’s original plans for the house hang in the study. These show the grand curved east and west wings that were never built.
A bitter five-year court case found in favour of Adam. But he died before he could recoup the debt owed to him. Lord Braco felt so let down by the result that he never slept a night in the house. It was left to his heirs to complete the work.
The grounds around Duff House were laid out in the late 1700s and early 1800s with carriage drives, walks and ornamental buildings.Features: tearoom, art collection, libraryAddress: Duff House, A98, Scotland
United KingdomPassholders: Free entry for Historic Environment Scotland Members
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