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PICTURES: One of the Highlands' grandest homes goes on sale for £3m

By Gavin Musgrove

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One of Highlands' grandest and most expensive houses has been put on sale with a price tag of £3m.

Aultmore House by Nethy Bridge even has links with music royalty.

A buzz swept the strath at the start of 2007 when it was rumoured that a certain Robert Zimmerman – better know as Bob Dylan – had acquired the 16 bedroom property.

It turned out to be his brother David who was said to be acting for his brother but as far as the Strathy knows there have been no reported sightings of the US music legend in the Nethy Bridge area.

The price label in 2007 was reported to be £2m.

The A listed Edwardian mansion has 18,357 square feet of floor space and also boasts has four reception rooms, 11 bathrooms and sits in 25 acres of land which includes a quaint cottage.

The site of Aultmore House was specially selected because of its outstanding southerly views across Abernethy Forest to the Cairngorms.

The property – which is being sold by Knight Frank - Edinburgh Sales – is approached via a private tree-lined driveway with a turning circle and parking area to the front.

Aultmore House has retained many of the features and designs from the original owner with the main elevation having a delightful symmetrical appearance with large astragal windows, and an elegant columned central block flanked by two stone gazebos.

The internal features are described as 'superb' with Adam style marble fireplaces in most reception rooms, beautifully detailed plasterwork on ceilings and archways, superb timber floors and facings throughout.

The wiring, heating and hot water systems were updated substantially in 2007/08 and most recently interconnecting smoke alarms and emergency lighting were installed.

The full accommodation is laid out over three storeys.

For a virtual tour of Aultmore House click here

Aultmore House was built for Archibald Merrilees who built the first department store in Russia, M&M.

He commissioned C.H.B. Quenell, a London architect and designer, after spotting the site whilst out hillwalking in the surrounding area.

Work was started in 1911 and by the time it was completed in 1914, the house and charming gatehouse was complete, as well as a walled garden with greenhouse, a kitchen garden with tennis court, a fountain garden and a “croquet” garden with summer house and archery range.

There were follies and stone and limestone balustrades as well as wrought iron gates and stone sculptures.

In the past it has been used as luxury holiday accommodation and wedding and party venue, for hire at a reported £3,000 per night.

It has hosted celebrities, politicians and foreign and UK ambassadors, and featured in the TV drama Monarch of the Glen.

Aultmore House's own website states: "At that time Aultmore was, and remains today, one of the finest properties in all of Scotland.

"Archibald Merrillees was to enjoy but one summer at Aultmore, for he died the following year. The Great War occurred, as well as the Russian Revolution, which caused the Merrillees disengagement from M&M and reversed somewhat the family fortune. The property was sold in 1922 to John Nivison."

Nivison was a London financier, later to become Lord Glendyne.

The site states: "Although the primary usage of Aultmore was to be a holiday hunting lodge, he soon added a nursery wing for his four children, with nine more bedrooms and two baths. More outbuildings were built, including an assembly hall/laundry, a garage and three cottages for housing staff.

"During the Second World War, Aultmore was consigned as a convalescent hospital.

"The family owned the property for 50 years – only Moira, his daughter, lived there on a permanent basis with her several dogs.

"When she died, Aultmore was purchased by Major Charles Hargreaves and his wife Dawn. Charles carried out James Bond-like operations for the British Government, and was captured and imprisoned for the last year of World War II.

"When he was freed, he continued his association with the British Government in assignments around the world.

"He married Dawn McKay, who was a mistress of an international school for young women in England in 1964. They moved their school to Aultmore and remained for 17 years."

More on Aultmore House can be found here

Major Hargreaves was one of a dwindling band of Colditz survivors when he passed away in February 2005, and. He spent the last days of the Second World War there from 1944 to 1945, after gruelling experiences at the hands of the Gestapo in Belgrade.

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