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William Bruce

William Bruce


Fife-born founding figure of British Palladianism. Bruce’s Stuart sympathies led to his fall from royal favour after James VII’s deposition in 1689. Hopetoun House, ultimately completed by William Adam, was one of his works.

Sir William Bruce of Kinross, Bart. architect to Charles II, was born around 1630 and died early in the year of 1710. He was the second son of Robert Bruce of Blairhall, in Fife, an ancestor of the present Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, and was a strong Episcopalian and a loyal subject.(Source Hubert Fenwick)

Apart from his career as an architect, Bruce was something of a political figure, having been a confidential messenger between the Scottish Lords and Charles II before the restoration. He was knighted for his services and made 'Surveyor General and Overseer of the King's works in Scotland'. This post was specifically created for remodeling of Holyroodhouse (1671-9), in which Bruce was assisted by Robert Mylne. Bruce gave the palace its symmetrical front a created a complex Thoroughly French in character. As a gentleman architect, more often then designing houses himself he would give advice on appropriate designs and architects to his friends and acquaintances of the Scottish nobility.

The houses he did design were unfortified houses for Scottish lords who abandoned the medieval tower house. 'The Kit (Christopher) Wren of North Britain' according to Defoe, Bruce can be described as the effective founder of Classical architect in Scotland, the knowledge of which derived form his many travels abroad. He put great emphasis on the formal setting of a house, on the relationship between the garden and the landscape and the house itself (Kinross house, 1685-93; Hopetoun House 1699-1702). After the death of Charles II his political position became uneasy and in trying to build up his estate in Kinross, he ended up in financial difficulties. (Source Collins Encyclopedia)