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My Favourite John Allan Building by Lindsay Lennie

John Allan Header 1 Royal Gardens

Building designed by John Allan, Architect, Royal Gardens

Anyone being asked to choose which of John Allan’s buildings are their favourite will find it a difficult task. This is because his buildings are so totally different. The styles, materials and approaches are a melting pot of architectural periods and influences.

I am tempted to choose Mona Place (1897). It is almost anonymous sitting on Newhouse, the road leading south to St Ninians. Only its date stone with John Allan’s signature gives it away. However, I would have to say that my favourite is Royal Gardens (1877). As you enter Stirling from the north and reach the Kings Knot at the base of the Castle rock, you can see it peeking over the grassy horizon. As you head along the tree-lined road you get glimpses of the creamy sandstone and slate roofs, with sentinel-like Italianate towers guarding the entrance to the city.

row of large stone houses
Royal Gardens © Jo Cound

The villas, numbers 1-9, have regularity and symmetry and are pleasing to the eye. But look closer and you will see the carved faces of lions and bearded ‘Green Men’ gracing either side of the grand doorways to greet the occupants as they enter their homes. Tall windows not only maximise light but also give the residents unending access to an unrivalled landscape; the Kings Knot, the Castle and the mountains of Highland Scotland beyond. Imagine waking up every day and opening your curtains to such a magnificent view!

Stone carving of a Green man
Decorative console bracket depicting a ‘Green Man’ ©Jo Cound
Stone carvings of lions
Carved lions guarding the entrance to a house on Royal Gardens ©Jo Cound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindsay Lennie


Dr Lindsay Lennie is a Chartered Surveyor and a full member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. She has a specialism is historic shopfronts and her book, ‘Scotland’s Shops’ was published by Historic Environment Scotland in 2010. Lindsay became Trust Manager of SCHT in 2020 having worked previously on a number of Trust projects including the King Street Funding Initiative.

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