WHERE IS IT? In the southside district of Cathcart, nestled in a large bend in the White Cart Water, next to Linn Park and Cathcart Cemetery.
Considered to be the finest of Thomson’s residential villas, it is also the most inviting, as it is open to the public.
It was built for its original owner, paper manufacturer James Couper, in 1857-1858, near the Millholm paper mill which Couper owned. It is the most exquisite example of Thomson’s work, as most of the interior décor has remained unchanged, with a chimney sculpture by George Mossman, while the dining room sports a frieze of
panels enlarged from John Flaxman's illustrations of Homer's Iliad.
It was altered by its owner John Gray in the 1920s, but these were later reversed in 1998 by architecture firm Page & Park shortly after it was acquired by the National Trust for Scotland in 1994 with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. They also restored much of the interior decor that was destroyed by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions when they owned the house during the latter half of the 20th century.
A slightly larger version of the original design, was built in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1885, after the designs were published in Villa and Cottage Architecture: select examples of country and suburban residence recently erected by Blackie & Son Publishing. Known as Holmwood, it was built for William Austin Horn, a wealthy mining magnate and politician. While the exterior resembles the Scottish structure, internally they differ greatly after modifications were made to suit Horn’s wishes.