Manderston is the supreme country house of Edwardian Scotland; the swansong of its era. It is diffficult to believe that most of the house was built in the first years of the last century.
But Manderston, as it is today, is a product of the best craftsmanship and highest domestic sophistication the Edwardian era had to offer. It was built for Sir James Miller, a nouveau riche baronet who married into the traditional aristocracy and asked an up and coming Scottish architect, John Kinross, to create a home of glittering style to match his wealth and status as a country gentleman.
The first house here was a square mansion, built for Mr. Dalhousie Weatherstone in the 1790s, probably by Alexander Gilkie or John White. In 1855, the estate was bought by Richard Miller. On his death, it was bought by his younger brother, William Miller, who was the maternal great-great-grandfather of Lord Palmer, who lives here now.
William Miller made a fortune trading hemp and herrings with the Russians. After sixteen years as Honorary British Consul at St. Petersburg, he returned to become Liberal Member of Parliament for Leith and later for Berwickshire. Prime Minister Gladstone made him a baronet in 1874 in gratitude for his well contrived political dinners, although it is rumoured he never actually spoke in the House of Commons!
The Georgian house was a little old fashioned
for Sir William, so in 1871 he asked architect
James Simpson to add a pillared entrance porch
and extra servants’ bedrooms hidden behind a
new French Renaissance style roof. Sir William
wanted to leave Manderston to his eldest son
William, but he died choking on a cherry stone
at Eton in 1874.So, the estate, baronetcy and fortune all passed in 1887 to his second son, James Miller (1863–1906).
Sir James was a perfect Edwardian gentleman: a great sportsman; an excellent shot; a horse racing enthusiast and soldier. What’s more, as Vanity Fair pointed out in 1890, ‘being a good fellow, one of the most wealthy commoners in the country and a bachelor, he is a very eligible young man’. He was affectionately known by all his friends as ‘Lucky Jim’.
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