Walter Newall, 1823. 2-storey, basement and attic, 5-bay Greek Revival villa with prominent central pedimented porch. Polished red sandstone ashlar tooled to basement. Raised banded base and band courses; deep cornice with stepped blocking course over. Moulded surrounds at ground and first floor windows, integrated with band courses with blind apron; those at ground floor with consoled cornice over. Central pedimented porch with fluted Doric columns, moulded entablature and dentilled cornice. Entrance platt oversailing basement recess to central doorway flanked by Doric pilasters with rectangular fanlight over.
N (REAR) ELEVATION: 2 storey with narrow attic storey, 3 bay with lower later brick addition to right (W). Coursed squared sandstone. Regular fenestration with canted bay to left (E) at ground floor.
Predominantly 12-pane in timber sash and case glazing with two light casement windows at attic windows to rear. Corniced sandstone gable head stacks with some clay cans. Grey slates to roof. Cast iron rainwater goods. Cast iron spearheaded railings edging basement recess to street.
INTERIOR: well-detailed Greek Revival interior with prominent double height domed central hall. Rectangular plan; central hall with principal accommodation at ground floor opening off. Rotunda at first floor providing access to principal rooms and attic stair. Some fine cornicing and plasterwork retained to principal rooms. Some alteration to principal rooms with later stud partitions. Continuous arcade of round timber arches to central drum at 1st floor. Dentilled cornice to domed cupola. 6-panel timber doors and shutters retained throughout.
Statement of Special Interest
Moat Brae is a fine example of the work of renowned local architect Walter Newall, in Greek Revival style. The building, which was originally designed to terminate a terrace, is well detailed with a particularly prominent Greek Doric portico. Internally the building has an innovative plan based around a double height circular central space with first floor arcade which is top lit by a domed cupola. The property is also associated with JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan who visited the house and garden during his boyhood.
For its date and location Moat Brae is a well-detailed and refined villa. It is a characteristic example of a Classically detailed villas in a provincial location for its date, with other listed examples in Haddington, Montrose, Cupar and Campbeltown. Moat Brae is a good example of the genre in the Dumfriesshire context. The use of Greek detailing is relatively early in the Greek Revival period, but is confined to front elevation as the building was originally designed as part of a terrace.
The building is set in what was once a key location and formed part of the fashionable early 19th century expansion of Dumfries. The broader context of the development of a grand suburb is partially retained, but the original garden which belonged to the house has been eroded over time.
Moat Brae is one of a handful of villas by Newall applying the formula of a cupola'd hall, among the crème de la crème for the region at the time and exhibiting strong regional interest. Newall favoured such cupolas and his design for Hannayfield (now Ladyfield West, see separate listing) featured in Loudon's Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture, shows a similar, if later example.
The historical association with Peter Pan lies with J M Barrie's frequent visits to the garden and his Dumfries Academy friend, Stuart Gordon between 1873 and 1878. Barrie was a pupil at the nearby Dumfries Academy between 1873 and 1878 where he befriended fellow pupils Stuart and Hal Gordon whose family home was Moat Brae. Barrie spent much of his time out of school playing games with the Gordon's in the garden of Moat Brae and it was the nature of the tree-climbing and swash-buckling tales which they enjoyed there, which, as reported by Barrie in 1924 when receiving the Freedom of the Burgh, inspired his later work. Barrie's time at Moat Brae were said to inspire a key element in the wider story of Peter Pan. Barrie lived in the adjoining Irving Street, then Victoria Terrace. However, this is only a component of the conception of Peter Pan, later friendships in London giving further inspiration.
Walter Newall was the leading and predominant architect in Dumfriesshire between about 1820 and 1860. Newall was confident in a number of styles from Greek revival to picturesque Gothic. His early work is characterised by the use of the Greek revival style and his designs often incorporate Greek Doric columned arcades and porches. His use of Greek sources also continued in his approach to the interior design with Greek sources applied to decorative plasterwork. Despite working in a number of styles his approach to entrance spaces was often characterised by deep rectangular spaces top lit by cupolas. This can be seen at Moat Brae, Ladyfield West and Netherwood House (see separate listing) amongst others. His design for Hannayfield (now Ladyfield West) featured in Loudon's Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture, shows a similar, if later example. Newall is known to have made tours of both Italy and Germany, and the influence of Palladian villa architecture can be seen in his villa designs especially in the symmetrical forms of the elevations for Ladywood West.
List description updated 2011. Statutory address updated from 61 George Street, Moat Brae, Including Gatepiers (2014).
Drawings by Walter Newall at Dumfries Archive. Shown on 1st edition Ordnance Survey Map town plan (1850). William Blackwood, Cases decided in the House of Lords on Appeal from the Courts of Scotland, Volume IV, Edinburgh (1830); J C Loudon, Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture, (1846). James Urquhart, In the Peter Pan Garden, (1974). Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, (1978), p 588. Aonghus Mackechnie, Walter Newall, Architect in Dumfries, Welcome News for Friends of Scottish Monuments, (1987). John Gifford, Buildings of Scotland: Dumfries and Galloway (1996), p274. Stephen Jackson and Marion Stewart, Walter Newall of Dumfries, Journal of the Regional Furniture Society, Vol XIV (2002). Francis Ryan, The Man Who Created Moat Brae House in Dumfries, Dumfries Standard (December 2009). Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk (accessed 2.8.11) Further information courtesy of Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust (2011).
We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/shep-dec2011.pdf, Annex 2, pp74-76.
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