Islay House

Islay House is the principal residence on the island, built at the head of Loch Indaal for the Campbells who ran the Islay Estate from here until they had to sell up in 1848. Located a quarter-mile (0.4 km) north northeast of Bridgend, it began as the L-plan Killarow House which was built for Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor in 1677 and was extended repeatedly until the early 20th C. Now A-listed and surrounded by woodland, it comprises a surprisingly grand white-harled 57-room construction of three storeys, with a long facade, prominent gables, hexagonal stair towers and a grey-slate roof. In 1726, the Cawdor Campbells were bought out by Daniel Campbell of Shawfield (1671 - 1753) and he began to extend the house c. 1737. At the rear is office accommodation in Scots Baronial style added 1841-5 by the architect William Henry Playfair (1790 - 1857). Islay House's next owner was the millionaire English businessman and Member of Parliament, James Morrison (1789 - 1857), who bought the Isle of Islay in 1853. A nursery wing to the designs of architect Detmar Blow in 1910, is of two storeys with an attic, and mirrors the style of the earlier parts of the house. The house was sold by the Morrisons in 1985, although they retained the estate, now run from the former Factor's House at Eallabus. Islay House became home to retired US Navy test pilot Captain Thomas Friedrich, a Vietnam veteran who became the personal pilot of Ugandan President Idi Amin.

Sold once again in 2014, Islay House now provides hospitality, with accommodation, fine dining and a bar that is open to the public. It benefits from a fine Georgian interior, with graceful winding stairs and pleasant fireplaces in public rooms.

Within its policies is the site of the former hamlet of Kilarrow, which was cleared in the later 18th century to improve the setting of the house. The site of the former parish church and its ancient burial ground remain. Also in the ground are two 18th-century follies; the East and West Towers. Islay House Square, to the east of the house, is now a business centre, while Islay House Community Garden was established in the former kitchen garden in 2005.

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