May 2021


Welcome to The Arts Society Exmoor
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - 10:45

A Study Day organised by The Arts Society Exmoor featuring three lectures by the lecturer Caroline Knight- 'The Scottish Country House: Castles and Classicism', 'Dumfries House: Saved for the Nation' and 'Robert Adam in Scotland'.

The Arts Society Exmoor arranges several Special Interest Days each year and are open to members and non-members alike. They represent excellent value for money and are always very popular.

Our ‘usual’ charges are:

Members: £25.00. (If space allows, non-members: £30.00 – please email David Hannah if you are a non-member and would like to attend)

However, in the current exceptional circumstances, we have decided to hold our next Special Interest Day, ‘The Scottish Country House’, Wednesday 5 May 2021, online. The lectures will take place at the same times, but we can just stay in the comfort of our own homes. On this occasion, we have set a ‘special’ charge of £20. The application form can be downloaded here:

For information on the day and booking please see this link- TAS Special Interest Day.05.05.2021



The medieval Scottish country house was a fortified tower, many of which remain. In the 16th century these developed into more decorative buildings with corner turrets and elaborate dormer windows. Through the late 17th and 18th centuries classical buildings dominated, before a return to a more Scottish style: Abbotsford, Sir Walter Scott’s famous 1820s house, celebrates this. The Scottish Baronial style was taken up enthusiastically by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Balmoral. By the late 19thC Sir Robert Lorimer was building country houses in Arts and Crafts style: the swansong of country house building before the First World War.


Lecture 2 (12.00-1.00pm) : DUMFRIES HOUSE: SAVED FOR THE NATION

This was built 1754-9 in Ayrshire by the 5th Earl of Dumfries. The architects were the young Adam brothers, John and Robert. Remarkably, its original furniture survives almost intact, much made by Thomas Chippendale. Other suppliers were leading Edinburgh furniture makers, also well documented. In 2007 the contents of this important house were to be sold at Christie’s. A rescue package was put together and at the last moment the house and its contents were saved, largely by the intervention of the Prince of Wales.


Lecture 3 (2.00-3.15ish) : ROBERT ADAM IN SCOTLAND

Robert Adam’s father was William Adam, the leading architect and building contractor in Scotland in the first part of the 18th century. Robert travelled to Rome, and set up a London office on his return. However, he always kept strong Scottish connections and much of his work even in London was for Scottish clients. He developed an elegant neo-classical style, but he was always fascinated by the vernacular Scottish buildings he grew up with, and increasingly in his late work used elements of the castle style in his Scottish country houses.



Mrs Caroline Knight

Architectural historian, trained at the Courtauld and specialising in 16th to 18th century English and Scottish architecture. Lecturer at the V&A on year courses and short courses, and lecturer for the Art Fund, and for the Royal Oak Foundation in the US. Researched and wrote a history of Kensington Palace. Contributed to a book on the Cecil family, and has written several articles on architectural and social history and the history of travel. Wrote London's Country Houses (2009). Contributed a chapter to a history of the Royal Academy (Yale, forthcoming).