First time visitors sailing to Islay are often greatly impressed by the imposing baronial mansion which commands the hilltop overlooking approach to the ferry terminal at Port Askaig. This is, of course, Dunlossit House, the island home of billionaire merchant banker and landowner Bruno L Schroder.
Originally a shooting lodge, it was converted into a more grand residence in 1868. The property was purchased in 1890 by Donald Turner Martin of Kintour who married Iseabella Martin Gilmour from the planned and now highly protected village of Eaglesham in East Renfrewshire. Unfortunately, the building was destroyed by fire and this led Martin to build the current Dunlossit mansion.
Owners of Dunlossit House
Martin’s father-in-law came to live in the house and remained there until his death in 1905, five years after his daughter’s death in Edinburgh. A Martin Memorial Cross was erected in the Dunlossit grounds, and is similar to the Martin Memorial found at the burial ground at Eaglesham Castle. The Martin connection ceased in 1911 when the property was purchased by W A Bankier. It was then sold on to Nathaniel Dunlop in 1918 and continued in his possession until his death in 1931. Dunlossit was purchased by Helmut Schroder in 1937 and, following his death in 1969, it became the Islay residence of his son Bruno.
Facing the mansion’s main entrance is the Schroder Coat of Arms, carved from Bath stone, which was quarried in Box near Chippenham in Wiltshire. It depicts a lion and a unicorn on either side of the Schroder shield. In 1997, the family purchased two cannons which had been used as bollards at Port Askaig pier. These were restored at the Royal Armoury at Fort Nelson and one was fired at the launch of the new Islay lifeboat ‘The Helmut Schoder II’ in Port Askaig which was gifted to the RNLI and the Islay branch by Bruno and his sister Charmaine in memory of their father.
Today, Dunlossit House remains a lived-in stately home with breathtaking views of the Sound of Islay and beyond.
Published with kind permission of the Ileach Newspaper