Ascog House

Isle of Bute, Argyll and Bute - Sleeps 7+2

About this Landmark

This is a seventeenth-century Laird’s house on the lovely Isle of Bute, close to the firth and in extensive grounds. The stone staircase, worn by feet over two centuries, winds up its tower towards elegant, airy rooms.

Dog Beds 1 Single, 3 Twin, 1 Double

  • Sleeps7 +2
  • 4 nights from from£501
  • equivalent to £13.92 per person per night

A Laird’s house surrounded by wildlife

Ascog House once belonged to a branch of the Stewarts and is a typical 17th-century Laird’s house. Seen from the front, the  main rooms are on the first floor, reached by a wide turnpike stair. Go round behind and the rise of the ground brings them level with the garden. Over breakfast at the kitchen table you can often see deer at the end of the garden, and if you take a short walk to the nearby beach you can watch the seals dozing on the sand.

The Isle of Bute

Bute has been called the Scottish Isle of Wight and certainly Rothesay, its capital with its Winter Garden and decorative ironwork, is reminiscent of the South Coast. Ascog lies on the sheltered east coast of the island. Trees (especially beech) and shrubs (Charles Rennie Mackintosh drew fuchsias here) grow lushly in its mild climate. It has been gently developed as a superior resort since the 1840s, with a scattering of respectable houses above the bay. Building on the shoreline was wisely forbidden.

Floor Plan

‘Loved everything – especially the swings, snowdrops, the moonlit sea, mountains and palm trees.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

On the east coast of the Isle of Bute, Ascog House stands in the large and secluded grounds of the old mansion house of Ascog. Seals can often be seen on the beach at the end of the drive.

Ascog House
Isle of Bute, Argyll and Bute - Sleeps 7+2
Clear directions

Places to visit nearby

Mount Stuart Estate

Ardbrannan Riding Centre

Kayak Bute

Loch Fad fishing

‘Loved everything – especially the swings, snowdrops, the moonlit sea, mountains and palm trees.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    By a driveway from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Wemyss Bay – 11 miles (via ferry)
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes, two spaces adjacent to the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is gas central heating and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker, separate freezer, dishwasher and microwave
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are two bathrooms, both with baths.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep, spiral and narrow in places.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There are open grounds; with steps in places and also two unfenced ponds.

    Booking and Payment

  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will advise you as to whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to carry out the changeover then we consider that it is open and available. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, which may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Is it true there are no televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

Ascog given to the Bute family by Robert the Bruce

In 1312 Robert the Bruce is said to have given Ascog to the Bute family of Glass. In 1594 the estate, including a mill, Loch Ascog and Nether and Over Ascog, was bought by John Stewart of Kilchattan, a distant kinsman of the Stewarts of Bute who later became Earls and later Marquesses of Bute.

John Stewart may have built the first house at Ascog, replacing an older tower. Despite the date of 1678 above one of the dormer windows, the original Ascog House was earlier than that. With its stair tower and cap-house, it is of a type commonly built around 1600. Moreover, in the wall of the present kitchen is part of a grand chimneypiece. This belonged to a great hall whose floor and ceiling were both at a higher level than today.  In 1673 John Stewart of Ascog, grandson of the first John Stewart, married Margaret Cunningharn and it is their initials that are engraved on the house. They must have carried out a major reconstruction, lowering the floors to create two main storeys, and adding the dormer windows. John Stewart was rich enough to lend the Earl of Bute £9,385 to help re-build Rothesay Castle after damage in the Civil War. He was also crowner or coroner of Bute from 1666-98.

During the 18th century, the original mullion windows of Ascog House were enlarged and fitted with sash and casement frames. In 1773 another John Stewart, who had no children, made a complicated will intended to ensure that Ascog would always be owned by a Stewart. His heir, a cousin named Archibald McArthur, had therefore to change his name. Archibald Stewart was said to be both mean and eccentric – he kept pigs in his drawing room in Edinburgh – but he helped pay for a road from Rothesay to Ascog in 1813. He too had no children.  The next heir was a distant American cousin, Frederick Campbell. He tried to sell Ascog but the terms of the old will defeated him. His brother Ferdinand, a professor of mathematics in Virginia, succeeded where he had failed and sold Ascog in 1831 to the eminent engineer Robert Thom.

Ascog passed through various hands until in 1939 when it was bought by the Earl of Dumfries, later 5th Marquess of Bute. Meikle Ascog was lived in by Lord Rhidian Crichton Stuart, then let to a Mr Collins and finally to Patrick Crichton, who left in 1988. Ascog House was divided into several dwellings for estate employees, but structural problems began to appear and the house gradually emptied. To secure its future the late Lord Bute approached the Landmark Trust, as a charity which rescues and cares for historic buildings. In 1989 Ascog House, its gardens and the nearby Meikle Ascog were placed in Landmark’s care.

Gutted by fire

When the Landmark Trust acquired the Ascog demesne in 1989, Ascog House needed complete restoration. This was done under the supervision of Stewart Tod and Partners of Edinburgh, architects with long experience of working for the Landmark Trust. The builders were A. Robertson and Co. of Greenock. Work started in 1990 but tragically, when it was nearly completed in June 1991, an unexplained fire gutted the house. After inevitable delays, work started again and Ascog House was finally furnished in June 1993.

Ascog House now looks as it should, the house of a Scottish gentleman of the 17th century, a typical laird's house with steep roof and crow stepped gables. What is fortunately not now obvious is that the house was greatly and badly enlarged in the mid 19th century. Servants' quarters were tacked onto the back, almost doubling the size of the house. Then in about 1900 a drawing room and staircase were added to the right of the front door.  With these additions the house was far too big for modern use. Moreover, to build on at the back, the ground had been dug away behind the house, exposing the foundations and leaving the back wall extremely insecure. The ground had been lowered in front too, to make what had been a half-basement into a full ground floor. If the building was to survive, the ground would have to go back to its original level. All the additions were therefore removed by the Landmark Trust except for the staircase that remains, as a tower, separate from the main house. 

The walls of the old house were reinforced and later windows and doors blocked for the same reason. The old door into the stair turret was reopened, with the ground level outside it restored. The walls were then harled with a mixture of lime and sand in the traditional manner. Inside, everything you see is new apart from the stone treads of the turnpike stair and the stone fireplace surrounds, which survived the fire. The new work, however, and particularly the joinery, is based on clues found in the building and evokes the appearance of the house in the eighteenth century.

If the appearance of Ascog House has changed dramatically since 1989, so too has that of the garden in front of it. This was entirely overgrown, but Mr Ian Chisholm, the gardener, gradually cleared it, reclaiming paths and steps from the tangle of undergrowth. It is now possible to see the late Victorian layout, but the character of a wild woodland garden remains. Mr Chisholm also worked on the water garden, discovering the old pipes for the ponds and water works with the help of water-diviner's rods.  The water comes from Loch Ascog and drains away into the sea. The wheels operating the six inch valves had not been turned for fifty years or more and were entirely rusted up, but they were all carefully cleaned and in 1993 there was a dramatic moment when the fountain spouted again.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

QuestionWhat's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.