Centuries ago, the ancient Royal Burgh of Auchterarder was strategically positioned on the road from the Royal residence at Scone, near Perth, to Stirling Castle. During the battle of Sherrifmuir, the Earl of Mar's rebel army burned the old village to the ground and today that battleground lies just a short distance from Auchterarder House.
It was in 1784 that the Duke of Perth, then Baron of Auchterarder, divided his lands selling half to the Honourable Basil Cochrane. He in turn sold the land to Lieutenant Colonel James Hunter, in 1831, who commissioned Scotland’s famous architect, William Burn to build Auchterarder House. Plans were drawn up for a two storey, asymmetrical Scots Jacobean style property with dark red ashlar crowstepped gables and partly sculptured dormer heads. They were approved and the mansion was built. The original house was a magnificent tribute to Victorian baronialism.
The house was then bought by James Reid, who in 1876 became the sole partner in Europe's largest locomotive manufacturing company, Neilson, Reid & Co of the Hydepark Locomotive Works in Springburn. He also collected art and built up a small but impressive collection of works, some of which are now in the collections of Glasgow Museums. In 1887 the house was lavishly refurbished for James Reid, by the architect, Sir John James Burnet.
In 1893 on the death of his father, James, Hugh Reid inherited the property. By 1903 Hugh was head of the amalgamated North British Locomotive Company, the third largest company of its kind in the world. Clients included Canadian Pacific Railroad, Imperial Japanese Railways, the Mexican Railway, the French State Railway and the New Zealand Government Railway. In fact, it is a rare country that did not order a locomotive from the Reid family. Secure in the knowledge that business was booming, in the early 1900s, Hugh Reid commissioned further development at the House. The result was the addition of a magnificent tower with capped turret and balustraded parapet and the reconstruction of a majestic entrance. In 1922, Hugh Reid was created a baronet and became Sir Hugh Reid, he then died in 1935.
In 1935 Sir Hugh’s son, Andrew Reid, took over ownership of Auchterarder House on Sir Hugh’s death. He lent it to Laurel Bank School for Girls from Glasgow, between 1939-1944 during World War II. You can read all about the girls’ war time evacuation in Anna Magnusson’s book ‘The Time of Our Lives’.
Andrew Reid died in 1940 having built up an interest and good relationship with the pupils and staff from Laurel Bank School for Girls living at Auchterarder House. His nephew Sir Douglas Reid the took over Auchterarder House and continued visiting every weekend to talk to the girls and staff as his uncle had previously done.
The Reid family was renowned for its generosity towards Scotland and, in addition to their passion for Auchterarder House, where no expense was spared, the family supported many local and national causes including building St Kessogs Church in Auchterarder. Also, James Reid's younger son, John, was famous for his work with the YMCA and the Princess Louise Hospital, as well as for funding a children's playground in Springburn Park, a bandstand, winter gardens, the site for Springburn Library and Reid Hall itself. On James Reid's death, his art collection was donated to the Glasgow Art Galleries and today his statue stands in Springburn Park in memory of himself and his family and their contribution to Scottish people.
Following on from the Reid era, Auchterarder House went under the hammer and was sold to the first non-family members in 1983. For the next 14 years it operated as a private country house hotel with an excellent restaurant, and enjoyed redesigns to the house and garden. It was during this time, amongst the illustrious guests who stayed at Auchterarder House, that former US President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy came to stay. In March 1997 the Wren's Hotel Group secured the property for its growing portfolio of luxurious country house hotels. Under Wren's ownership, Renata Strok, the group's interior designer carefully restored many original features and sympathetically enhanced the decor to offer an exquisite country house hotel.
The final piece of the history of Auchterarder House fell into place in 2002 when the current owner bought it and returned it to its original glory and purpose as an idyllic family country house. Following extensive renovations in 2003 and 2020, he is now opening the doors to our lucky clients for them to enjoy the beauty and comfort of this magnificent and historic house.
Lieutenant-Colonel James Hunter commissioned the famous Scottish architect, William Burn, to build the original Auchterarder House in 1832. A two storey, asymmetrical Scots Jacobean style mansion with dark red ashlar crowstepped gables and partly sculptured dormer heads was built in true Victorian style.
Towards the end of the 19th Century, the current owner, James Reid largely re-modelled the interior in 1887. This was done in sumptuous Renaissance style with a large, richly sculptured porte cochere with doric columns, a marble-lined conservatory with billiard room and terraces.
In the early 1900s Sir Hugh Reid embarked on some further renovations. The result was the addition of a magnificent tower with capped turret and balustraded parapet and the reconstruction of a majestic entrance. There is some later work in Dumfries stone which is of brighter red than the original.
In 1983 Auchterarder House was sold outside the Reid family for the first time since James Reid had bought it back in the mid-late 1800s. Mr Brown who bought the house turned it into a private country house hotel with an excellent restaurant. He also renovated the house and re-designed the gardens.
The Wren’s Hotel Group then bought Auchterarder House in 1997 and Renata Strok, their in-house designer renovated and re-designed the house as a comfortable and beautiful hotel.
The current owner bought Auctherarder House in 2002 and the house has twice since undergone extensive renovations, firstly in 2003 and latterly in 2020. These renovations have been sensitively and tastefully done transforming the house back to its former glory as an idyllic country home with all the modern comforts anyone could possibly expect.
Somehow lost during one of the restorations of the house, there was an interesting link to Homer’s Odyssey on the fireplace in the Library of the house. A sculpture of Homer was on the right-hand side and one of Plato on the left-hand side. In between was a bronze scroll with the opening two lines of Homer’s Odyssey inscribed on it. The translation of the Greek is “Speak to me, O Muse, of the man of many ways who wandered very far when he had destroyed the holy city of Troy.”
Furthermore, photographs from 1888 by Harry Bedford Lemere show a Greek inscription on a panel above the door into the Library. This panel has since been removed, presumably during one of the restoration periods. The translation of the Greek is “Healing place of the soul”.
Today, Auchterarder House presides over 20 acres of luxuriant and protected gardens with spectacular views of the Ochil Hills to the south, the Grampians to the west and Cairngorms to the north. Situated in beautiful, rural Perthshire, there is a very well kept stocked lochan in the grounds and the whole property enjoys seclusion and privacy.
Having undergone extensive renovations in 2003 and again in 2020, Auchterarder is one of the most impressive private family homes in Scotland and has the benefit of being close to Gleneagles Hotel.
There is also a Gate Lodge at the end of the drive providing extra staff accommodation if necessary.