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Panmure Estate's Buildings.
Carved Stone Lintel on Farmhouses, Cottages and Steadings

The following texts were the basis of articles in the Dundee Courier newspaper, Craigie Column, of 28th May and 6th August, 2008. This follows requests for information from readers regarding the inscriptions on the door lintels and other matters regarding buildings at Panmure Estate.

There is much about Panmure Estate on this website (see links at foot) and the search engine will bring even more.
The Webmaster is always pleased to receive items about the estate and other matters which may be of interest to website visitors.

JW  1870  ED

Initials are those of the Earls of Dalhousie

"More information about the initials JW and ED on lintel stones (placed over external doorways) and the similarity of farmhouses and cottages around Arbroath comes from Mr. Norrie, from near Arbirlot, Arbroath." 

(Mr Norrie has kindly provided the webmaster with his original article submitted to the Craigie Column in the Dundee Courier and it is substantially reproduced below. This text replaces that which appeared here for a few days after 28th May 2008 being the edited version from the Courier).

 Regarding your items in the Craigie column about JW and ED on lintel stones and the similarity of farmhouses and cottages round Arbroath. This all relates to Panmure Estate. The carved lintels stones on farmhouses, cottages and steadings are not in fact builders' initials but rather stand for John William (Ramsay) Earl of Dalhousie and carry a date in the 1880's. Some other houses and steadings carry stones marked FM <date> ED and this stands for Fox Maule, Earl of Dalhousie with a date in the 1870's. Panmure Estate undertook a major reconstruction of its buildings at this time and the farmhouses seem to be variations on 3 basic designs. One single storey design for the small farms, a one-and-a-half storey 'L' design for the medium farms and a two storey 'L' design for the larger farms. Likewise there seem to have been 3 basic designs of cottages i.e. detached single storey grieves' houses, terraced single storey horsemen's houses and two room bothies. All would have had a dry outside privy and an attached pig-sty. Most of these cottages are now substantially altered, with most having been 'modernised' under agricultural grant schemes in the 1950's and 1960's.

 For the history of all this, the reader has to go back to 1787 when the estates and titles of Panmure in Angus, and Dalhousie in Midlothian, passed to the Honourable William Ramsay who subsequently took the name and arms of Maule of Panmure. He was by all accounts a bit of a 'character' and was popular with his tenants who in 1839 erected a stone column testimonial to him on Downie Hill, which was also known as the 'Live and Let Live Testimonial' because the earl was a very easy going landlord (read here). The estate during these years had very little investment and when his son, Fox Maule, inherited, he had to set about the rebuilding of the houses and steadings on Panmure Estate.

 Fox Maule, second Baron Panmure and eleventh Earl of Dalhousie, was born in 1801, and had a substantial career in politics, being Member of Parliament (in London) for the (constituency) of Perthshire, and later the Elgin Burghs, and the Burgh of Perth. He is best remembered for being appointed Secretary at War by Lord Palmerston and sorting out the shocking unsanitary conditions and lack of clothing and fighting equipment that the army faced in the Crimea. He was also a great supporter of the Free Kirk after the 1843 disruption.

 Fox inherited the estates on the death of his father in 1852, but it was not until the overthrow of Palmerston's administration in 1858 that he was able to start improvements to his estates. Unfortunately, he did not achieve a great deal of improvement in his lifetime as he died, unmarried, in 1874. The estates subsequently passed to a nephew, Admiral George Ramsay who was born at Kelly (near Arbroath) in 1805. Earl George took up the work of improving the estates, but he died suddenly in 1880 and the estates passed to his son John William Ramsay.

 John William Ramsay, the thirteenth Earl of Dalhousie, was, like his father, a naval man, but he later shocked all his family by putting up for Parliament as a Liberal and an adherent of Gladstone. He became one of the Members of Parliament (in London) for Liverpool (constituency).

 He was the man who was the great builder and improver of Panmure, and between 1880 and November 1887 when he died, he was said to have spent 150,000 on new buildings and other improvements. That was, of course, a lot of money in those days and that money would have been from the revenues from coal mining on the Dalhousie Estates in Midlothian.

 On the subject of a reference book on farm buildings, I can recommend "The Rural Architecture of Scotland" by Alexander Fenton and Bruce Walker John Donald 1981. For earlier buildings, "Husbandry of Scotland" by Sir John Sinclair, 1813 and "A General View of the Agriculture of the County of Angus" by the Rev. James Headrick. 1813.

Cottage architect was a man of grand designs
Recently a reader who lives on the Panmure Estate asked where the house name 'Starforth' came from.
Mr. Douglas Norrie, from near Arbirlot, Arbroath, has again responded.

He writes,
"The row of 'Starforth' cottages at the west gate into the Panmure policies were, I think, named after the architect who designed them, viz. John Starforth (1822-1898.) Starforth was born in County Durham in England and in the 1840s was apprenticed to Edinburgh architect David Bryce, at that time 'Burn and Bryce'. Bryce re-modelled Panmure House in 1852 for Fox Maule-Ramsay. Bryce worked in the Scots Baronial Style with a 'French flavour'.

Bryce also designed the Royal Exchange building in Dundee, and in Edinburgh his work included Fettes College and the Bank of Scotland on the Mound. John Starforth seems to have set up in business on his own in the 1850s and he published The Architecture of the Farm" in 1853. By the 1860s he was well established with a thriving practice, designing churches, hospitals, country-house work. villas, farmhouses and farm steadings. He published "Villa Residences and Farm Architecture" (a series of designs for villas and farmhouses) in 1865 and "Designs for Villa Residences with Descriptions" in 1866.

I have for years looked in vain for his books but I have seen copies of some of the plates for "Architecture of the Farm" and they look very like some of the Panmure farm steadings. I think we can be sure Starforth designed the 'Starforth' cottages.
I suspect he also provided the series of semi-standard designs for the many farmhouses, cottages and steadings built during the 'John William' lairdship in the I880s. I have, however, never been able to confirm this.

(The Webmaster is grateful to Mr. Norrie and to Dundee Courier for use of these articles and reference.)


Panmure Estate.

More information about the Panmure Estate and its history, together with information about some notable buildings on the Estate, photographs, etc. can be seen above and elsewhere on this site, Panmure 1, Panmure 2, Panmure 3, Panmure 4, Panmure 5 Panmure 6, Panmure 7, Panmure 8 and Panmure 9.

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Panmure Estate, Angus, Scotland



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This page was updated - 22 June, 2019