At the beginning
Although there has been a dwelling of some kind on this site for centuries, Knockderry House as it stands today (meaning ‘hill of oak’ in Gaelic) was originally built around 1846 as a summer retreat.
In 1890 Mr D Anderson, a wealthy wool merchant, decided to upgrade the house in the fashion of the day and asked the well-known architect William Leiper to draw up plans. The Guest Lounge – and the rooms above – were added at that time along with all the turrets and towers that give the house its current distinctive look.
The dining room was originally the Music Room and Chapel and still retains many of the original features as does the drawing room, which boasts stained glass by James Guthrie Jnr and Daniel Cottier. Read more about William Leiper’s design of Knockderry on our blog.
William Leiper and the Stained Glass Artists
The modern house dates from around the mid-nineteenth century and was considerably smaller than the present building. The major extensions by William Leiper in the last decade of the century added considerably both to its size and to its architectural interest.
The work, commissioned by the then owner, wealthy Glasgow cotton merchant David Anderson, gave Leiper freedom to experiment and the resulting mixture of turrets, balconies, dormer and bay windows can be seen today. For the interior decoration a unique mix of talented designers, namely Daniel Cottier, J Gordon Guthrie (‘Guthrie Junior’), Jekyll and Leiper himself, were responsible for the very fine examples of stained glass, woodwork, and fireplaces which can be seen throughout the building.
Many fine buildings in Scotland bear testimony to William Leiper‘s long and distinguished architectural career and to his fruitful collaboration with artists such as his friend Daniel Cottier.
His achievements include Partick Burgh Halls, the Templeton Carpet Factory, Glasgow Gas Light Building, the interior of Stirling Library, the Banqueting Hall of Glasgow City Chambers, Dowanhill Church and the refurbishment of 996 Great Western Road, Glasgow. After his move from Glasgow to Helensburgh in the early 1870′s, he became the town’s most prolific and influential architect.
His Helensburgh buildings include Cairndhu, Bonnyton, Dalmore, Clarendon, Victoria Infirmary, Brantwoode, Red Tower, Morar Lodge, Drumadoon, and Terpersie his own house. Other buildings in the area for which he was responsible are The Lodge at Loch Goil and in Cove, the extensions to the Knockderry Castle, as well as those at Knockerry House (now Hotel).
While Leiper spent most of his working life in Scotland, after the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878 and the resulting economic depression, he moved to Paris to study painting. He was attracted back in 1880 to design the lavish interiors of the Russian imperial yacht Livadia in Govan.
John Guthrie & Co
The firm was established in 1850 by John Guthrie Snr. whose two sons John Jnr. (founder member of Art Workers Guild and the Glasgow Boys) and William joined the firm and helped to make it the most important and prolific Glasgow studio by the 1880′s.
When Cottier emigrated to Australia, his distinguished former clients, including Leiper, Thomson and Mackintosh, turned to the Guthries. Like Cottier, they were not confined to Scotland and after the success of the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1888, they established a showroom in London. The Guthries continued to receive further commissions from leading Scottish architects until the turn of the century.
John retired in 1899 and emigrated to the USA to join Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York specialising in ecclesiastical stained glass. The company went on to provide stained glass for the Queen Mary (1935), Glasgow’s Locarno Ballroom (1937) and Rogano Oyster Bar (1935-36).
Glass stainer Daniel Cottier began his career aged 14 with an apprenticeship at John Cairney & Co in Glasgow training in glass staining, decorating and embossing. When he later moved to London he became influenced by the William Morris studio.
Cottier quickly developed his unique style and can be seen in his earliest commissions such as Pilrig Parish Church on Leith Walk in Edinburgh which was completed when he was 25. As his reputation grew, notably from his involvement with Townhead Parish Church in Glasgow, he garnered more commissions for his superior glass and decoration, the first of which was by architect Alexander “Greek” Thomson who commissioned him to work on Holmwood House (now a National trust for Scotland property).
Cottier’s longstanding and productive relationship with fellow glass stainer William Leiper resulted in work on Kirktonhill, Dumbarton, Loch Goil’s Woodside, the United Presbyterian Church in Dowanhill and Cairndhu House in Helensburgh.
Following more work for Thomson on the Queen’s Park United Presbyterian Church in Glasgow, Cottier raised his standing to become Scotland’s most original decorator, enabling his business to prosper and expand to London, New York and Sydney.
After emigrating to Australia he latterly worked as an art dealer where he influenced the Aesthetic Movement. After his death, Cottier’s studio continued to produce his designs.