by Simpson & Brown Architects
for Private Client
In January 1992, Torsonce was devastated by a major fire. Built in 1862 to a design by David Bryce Junior and substantially altered in the 20th century, it had been an imposing three-storey mansion set into a steep, wooded hillside.
It became evident that full restoration would be too expensive and that much of the building should be demolished. The owners decided that they wanted to retain the character of the old house and to try to save all but the unstable upper floor of the garden elevation, and to construct a new but smaller house behind, using as much salvaged material and as many architectural elements as could be rescued from the ruin. Among these were chimneypots, finials, gable braces, stone dressings, doors, panelling, chimneypieces, grates and, most importantly, the massive stone window units complete with mullions, transoms and metal casements.
Virtually everything of value rescued was re-used, although often in a different context. The charred end of an ornately carved bargeboard was used as a soffit panel on the stairway, the remains of cast iron balcony panels were redeployed to create a new verandah on the south side, two timber pilasters were repaired to stand sentinel at the hall doorway, and the monolithic Tudor-arched lintel from the mansion doorpiece was manoeuvred into the garden for use as an outside seat. The new Torsonce was completed in 1995.