There was a very good chance that Balintore Castle would have looked nothing like it does today, because the first architect employed was Sir Charles Barry. Barry famously worked with August Welby Pugin to design the present Houses of Parliament. I have been trying to hunt down Barry's plans for Balintore, because the prospect of a debating chamber instead of a dining room, and a members' lobby instead of a library is quite a charming one. :-)
|Sir Charles Barry (23rd May 1795 - 12th May 1860)|
The following article appeared in the Aberdeen Journal on Wednesday, September 29th 1858:
|scan of Aberdeen Journal 29th September 1858|
- Why did architect William Burn take over?
- How long did the castle take to build?
So rather than any artistic differences between client and architect, it sounds like Burn simply took over where Barry left off, probably using the same dimensions and ground plan. However, how this volume was filled-in eventually was very much in the Burn style.
"When it comes to Barry - he and Burn were friends, and I expect ill health meant he simply advised his client to contact the Stratton Street office. My feeling has always been that Burn (due to his own ill health) worked on this commission closely with his nephew MacVicar Anderson. "
Timescale of Build
I have often been asked how long the building took to build. My reply is "I don't know.". Dr. Paul Bradley says there are no written records for the construction of Balintore, unlike other Burn buildings.
However, this article dated Sept 29th 1858, before construction had started, suggests the build was essentially complete within 2 years, with the Great Tower certainly designed and raised within this period.
I found this 2 year period hard to believe, but friends have been informing me of the surprising speed of Victorian country house building. James Hollis who is working on the restoration of Burn's Revesby Abbey in Lincolnshire reports:
"Revesby’s plans are dated 1843 and all of the finished dates around the house state 1845 so we’ve been thinking ours was built in two years as well which is unbelievable."
I should point out Revesby Abbey is around 5 times the size of Balintore!
One of the great debates in architecture is the balance of works at the Palace of Westminster between Barry and Pugin. Pugin, I should say, is a great hero of mine, and I also love the work of his fellow maverick neo-gothic architect William Burges.
The received wisdom when I was growing up was that Barry was the architect of the Palace of Westminster. Pugin assisted Barry and designed the interior. However, the current view as far as my understanding goes is that Barry and Pugin should be given joint credit.