History

Sir William Maxwell, 2nd Baronet of Springkell, built the house in 1734. Sir John Shaw Heron-Maxwell added the wings around 1818, at a time when expansion was a status symbol and building the hobby of every landed gentleman from the Regent downwards.

In 1893 the Heron Maxwell’s sold Springkell to Sir Jabez Edward Johnson-Ferguson, 1st Baronet, and during the next decade the interior of the house was entirely reconstructed. Timber, mainly from the estate, was used to renew the old doors, panelling, wainscoting and floors, new fireplaces were put in, plate-glass replaced the Georgian sash windows and the whole house was redecorated.

The entrance hall with its handsome black and white marble floor was formed into a long corridor linked to the wings by pillared arches.

First floor rooms were remodelled, some of the roof-lines altered, and later on a little Victorian eastern wing built. At this time too, the terraced gardens were laid out on the south front.

Sir Jabez brought with him paintings, art treasures and relics from Italy, Greece and other countries where his family had travelled, and many of these are in the house today.

He was succeeded in 1929 by his son, Sir Edward, who died in 1953 and then his widow the Hon Lady Johnson-Ferguson, and then her oldest son Major Neil Johnson-Ferguson, and then his third son Captain Michael Johnson-Ferguson, and is now owned by his eldest son James Johnson-Ferguson.

At Springkell today, one has the impression of three different periods which are sometimes distinct, sometimes intermingled. Outside the Early Georgian character of the central building still dominates the house. Inside, there are strong elements of both Regency and Edwardian taste, sharing, at least, a bold and extrovert quality of space and splendour. The imposing Regency drawing room in the west wing, with its great bow of windows, has a formal splendour also contributed by the Edwardian age. The ceiling is decorated with plasterwork garlands, fans and scroll work.

The morning room, in the centre of the old house, overlooking the garden, was possibly the original entrance hall. The Hon. Lady Johnson-Ferguson, whose early home, Bodnant, in North Wales, is famous for its gardens, came from a family learned in many aspects of horticulture. She was an expert and active gardener and at Springkell developed one of the loveliest and most interesting gardens in Dumfriesshire.