Blairs College: Old Chapel and Menzies' Apartments, Maryculter

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Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved. © Copyright and database right 2019.

General Details and Location

Name of Building
Blairs College: Old Chapel and Menzies' Apartments
Other Name(s)
St Mary's College Old Chapel and Menzies' Apartments
Planning Authority
Divisional Area
Reference No
Listing Category
OS Grid Ref
NJ 88330 00814
Location Type
HS Reference No


Earlier 19th century neo-classical chapel, possibly with earlier core, but substantially remodelled after 1827 by John Gall, architect, Aberdeen, under the supervision of Rev Gordon and John Menzies. Linked at S to 2 bays of 3-storey domestic range originally built as John Menzies' private apartments, which communicates both with the chapel to the S, and with the 3-storey old mansion house to the N; overlooks the walled garden.

The land at Blairs was gifted to the Catholic Church in 1827 by John Menzies of Pitfodels. Menzies was a wealthy Catholic laird, formerly Convenor of the County of Aberdeen.

John Menzies and Rev Gordon supervised the alterations and extension of the original house. Menzies donated £500 towards the fitting out of a suite of rooms which he retained for himself, in the link block between the chapel and old mansion house; he remained in these apartments, overlooking the walled garden, for 3 years before leaving for Edinburgh. (Historic Scotland)
Building Dates
Earlier 19th century, possibly earlier core
Remodeled by John Gall after 1827

Category of Risk and Development History

Very Poor
Category of Risk
Exemptions to State of Risk
Field Visits
September 1990, October 1995, August 2001, 14/12/2007, 18/08/2010, 8/8/2013
Development History
September 1990: External inspection reveals the college to be falling into disrepair, though still mostly roofed. It remains in the ownership of the Bishops of Scotland. The college closed following a fall in enrolment in 1986. 25 September 1991: Press reports note that the Craigmar Partnership of Aberdeen is hoping to convert the college into a convalescent hospital. Plans have been submitted to Kincardine and Deeside District Council and include a heritage centre for the display of Blairs collection of paintings. The Chief Planner is recommending approval. However, he opposes a competing plan by Morland Blairs Development of Aberdeen to create a hotel, training centre, 2 golf courses and 77 new houses. May 1994: Outline Planning Permission is sought for the formation of an urban village on the site. 25 September 1994: Press reports note that the site has been earmarked for the construction of a new 5,000-person township. The proposals have been submitted by the Muir Group and have the backing of the Urban Village Campaign, an initiative to promote sustainable village communities launched by Prince Charles. October 1994: Outline Planning Permission is granted for a smaller community following public consultation. December 1994: The decision is called in by Grampian Regional Council. September 1995: Local planners report that Planning Permission has now been refused. Though an appeal remains outstanding, a new application has been lodged for a university campus, science and technology park and an urban village. August 1997: The appeal against the refusal of Planning Permission is dismissed. June 1999: Outline Planning Permission is sought for a leisure and housing development. SCT objects to a proposed residential new-build as contrary to the Local Plan. August 2001: External inspection reveals the chapel to remain vacant and to be in poor condition. 5 November 2003: The Aberdeen Evening Express reports that plans to develop the site into a housing and sports complex could be halted by proposals to designate it a Special Area of Conservation. The Muir Group hopes to build 281 homes around the college, with the college itself converted into a hotel and conference centre. The Dee District Salmon Fishery Board is objecting to the development over its potential effect on the local eco-system. The Friends of Blairs, a group of former pupils and teachers, is supporting the plans. 7 November 2003: The Mearns Leader reports that 28 letters of objection have been received. A decision is due in the coming months. October 2006: Ownership details updated. 26-07-2007: Herald reports new plans for a £115m hotel. Building firm has brought forward fresh proposals to develop some of the surrounding land to generate funds to restore the college into a hotel.
December 2007: External inspection finds the building in very poor condition. The property is vacant and at risk of vandalism and accelerating dilapidation.
January 2008: SCT comments on the Muir Group proposal, welcoming the proposals for conversion into a hotel in principle but notes serious concerns about the proposal for 280 dwellings, which is felt to be fair in excess of what is necessary for the restoration of the complex.
April 2008: BBC News website reports that outline planning permission has been granted for redevelopment of the site and will be sent to the Government for the final decision.
August 2010: External inspection finds no significant change since the last site visit. The property continues to deteriorate.
8 August 2013: External inspection finds the building remains in much the same condition as seen previously.
31 October 2013: The Scotsman reports on proposals for an enabling development of 44 new houses, within a former quarry, to finance the construction of a new bridge crossing over the River Dee. The construction of the bridge was one of the conditions attached to the redevelopment of the overall college site, in 2010. The article notes the redevelopment of the overall site has yet to commence.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number
01569 762001


Current Availability
Not Available
Appointed Agents
Occupancy Type
Present/Former Uses
BARR original text : Church/Convent/Monastery to Residential, Building Uses Information:
Present Use 1: N/A Former Use 1: Church/Convent/Monastery
Present Use 2: N/A Former Use 2: Residential
Name of Owners
The Muir Group
Type of Ownership

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
Geddes (2001), p80.
Online Resources
Churches and Chapels
Original Entry Date
Date of Last Edit