Old Place Of Monreith

Portwilliam

Overview

A typical Scottish laird’s house, in an exceptionally quiet place of ancient culture and deep peace just a couple of miles from the sea. The remoteness of this peninsular at the mouth of the Solway Firth makes the star-gazing second to none.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • RemoteRemote
  • Washing MachineWashing Machine
  • Explorer PacksExplorer Packs

Beds 2 Twin, 2 Double

Sleeps
8
4 nights from
£466 equivalent to £14.56 per person, per night

Dowies (Doo-ies)

Built in the 16th century, Old Place of Monreith is a traditional fortified tower house, less defensive than other fortifications but still featuring gun loops at the turnpike. The property became a farm and accumulated nearby outbuildings. 

Empty for nearly twenty years, the Landmark Trust acquired it in 1983. The surrounding farm buildings (19th century additions) were taken down, due their advanced state of decay, so work could begin on the Old Place. A large amount of refuse was removed from the main stairwell, the front door was unblocked and new roof timbers were installed.

A lingering sense of remote, civilised living

Whilst the exterior is certainly striking, the interior of Old Place is unexpectedly elegant, with the kitchen offering an impressive and warm communal space. The spiral staircase links the three floors and their well-proportioned rooms.  This Landmark's most appealing feature is its remoteness, situated right on the coast near Portwilliam. Visitors returning from long coastal walks will enjoy the open fireplace in colder times, whilst those who haven't had their fill of nature can relax in the private enclosed gardens.

‘The walk to St Ninian’s cave was beautiful – full of bluebells.’

‘A powerful sense of an ancient culture and sense of peace has cast a spell on us all.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Old Place of Monreith, close to the town of Portwilliam, is exceptionally quiet and remote with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and good beach walks only two miles away.

There is a whole host of events and festivals to look out for throughout the year. Wigtown Book FestivalSpring FlingWickerman Festival, the Snowdrop Festival  and Oceans Week are all highly recommended.

Enjoy the landscape by mountain biking and there are of course more traditional ways to discover this fantastic area of Scotland. Glenluce Abbey is just ten minutes in the car from the Old Place. Galloway Forest is perfect for walkers of all abilities, or for those who simply wish to enjoy this lovely area. 

Castle Kennedy Gardens are some of the most spectacular gardens in the country, set against the backdrop of sumptuous ruins. 

Be sure to look out for the varied Kirkcudbright Art Exhibitions, held throughout the year. 

For more information and ideas of things to do during your stay at The Old Place in Monreith, take a look at our Pinterest Map

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Old Place Of Monreith
Portwilliam
Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a long track.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Stranraer – 26 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

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

    There are electric night storage radiators a woodburning stove and a multi fuel stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs, kindling and coal can be ordered for delivery from Barwhanny Farm, Whauphill.  Contact Tim McGarva on 07748 677452.  
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

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

    There are two bathrooms, one with bath, one with a shower over bath. There is also an additional wc.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

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

    There is an enclosed garden.

    Booking and Payment

  • 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 be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a 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 create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • 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
  • 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 cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • 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.
  • 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!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • 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 on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • 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.
  • Am I 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.
  • 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.
  • Are there 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). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter 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 toilet 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 toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

Being used to store hay and shelter sheep

The Old Place of Monreith was discovered for Landmark by Stewart and Vivienne Tod, long-standing architects for Landmark in Scotland. They stumbled across it at Christmas in 1981, when the house and outbuildings were being used only to store hay or shelter the occasional sheep. The Old Place sits on the site of an earlier medieval house and outbuildings.

The present Laird’s house was built c.1600, and is a later form of the traditional fortified tower house, less defensive but still incorporating gun loops at the turnpike stair on the north side and narrow loops or vents to the ground floor of the wing on the south side. The property developed over the years as a farm with the steading acquiring numerous outbuildings to the north of the house.

Although known locally as Dowies, (pronounced ‘Doo-ies’) the house is called the Old Place of Monreith. In earlier days, it was called Moure and was the first possession in Wigtownshire of the Maxwell family. Sir Edward Maxwell of Tinwald, second son of Herbert, 1st Lord Maxwell, first acquired the estate in 1481, from a Cunninghame of Aikhead. The site would have been a strong one, for the now marshy valley was formerly a loch. Although there was an earlier castle nearby, the nucleus of the present building was occupied by Edward Maxwell’s descendants until the 1680s.

The Maxwell family had the usual share of black sheep and heroes. One of the family, John Maxwell of Garrerie, was convicted of the murder of John McKie of Glassoch and beheaded in 1619. The eldest son of a later laird, another John Maxwell, was a fervent Covenanter and after escaping the Battle of Rullion Green, in Lothian, he rode home without stopping. His old father was so impressed by this, that he declared the horse had done enough in one day for a lifetime and built a special stone-walled field for it, called the Horse Park. Here the gallant steed spent the rest of its days - not entirely idly, however, for under the name of Pentland, the stallion left a great many descendants of note in Galloway.

In 1683, growing prosperous, the Maxwells bought the (now ruinous) Tower of Myretoun nearby from the McCullochs, and moved there. After a period of neglect, the Old Place was considerably altered in the 19th century (especially its roofline) and became a farmhouse.

The plan is cross-shaped, the main block lying approximately east and west with a square wing projecting to the south and a circular stair-tower to the north. There are two storeys and an attic beneath a steep roof. The windows are fairly small, many with simple roll mouldings. Above one on the first floor of the west gable is a projecting gargoyle mask. The two arrow slit windows in the basement of the south wing are unexpected, giving an appearance of greater antiquity and one has an ogival head. There are two good shot-holes at first and second floor level in the stair tower. The door which was originally at the foot of this tower had been reduced to a window, with some more elaborate moulding remaining. Above is an empty panel-space with a chequered surround. The present doorway to the south is modern. A tall and massive hall chimney stack rises from eaves level to the west of the stair tower.

Restoration

Empty for 20 years

The building had been empty for 20 years when the Landmark Trust acquired it from Sir Aymer Maxwell in 1983. The house was surrounded by farm buildings, which dated mostly from the 19th century. As they were in a very poor condition they were all taken down with the exception of the present garage - originally a cart shed with a hayloft above.

Internally the building had been denuded of almost all its original features. The original front door had been at the bottom of the turnpike staircase with its stone panel for a coat of arms above, but this was blocked in the 19th century. The door on the south side became the front door and the back door was placed to the side of the staircase - where the window now is above the kitchen sink. We reopened the turnpike stair (removing a large amount of refuse in the process) and unblocked the front door. There are two chambers on each floor in the main block, and a small apartment in the wing. Traces of the original panelling may be found in some of the window embrasures. The large hall fireplace on the first floor has been reduced.

The roof timbers on the house turned out to be beyond repair and so had to be replaced, but the slates were reused, supplemented where necessary with others taken from the steading roofs. The original dormers had been removed in the 19th century, but their position was still visible in the stone walls and so they have been rebuilt in stone as like the originals as possible and carved with 'LkT' on one and '1983' on the other.

As the house had not been lived in for 20 years, all the floors needed replacing as well as the roof timbers. The first floor ceiling had been raised as part of the 19th century ‘improvements’ and this had to be replaced back down at its original level for access from the spiral staircase to work properly. A central staircase was removed.

Bathrooms were installed in the wing opposite the staircase and a new kitchen built. This room and the cloakroom have floors laid in pink Locharbriggs stone from the quarry near Dumfries. The big kitchen table came from Lundy. The aumbrey by the kitchen window is one of several that were found when the lathe and plaster was removed - convenient places to put lamps.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

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.