Fetlar is one of Shetland's northern isles. Brough lies on the summit and west-facing slopes of a low hill. Brough Lodge and its ancillary buildings form a distinctive landmark. The designed landscape centers on The Tower, the site of an Iron Age broch. The parkland extended across the Ness of Brough, to the west of the Lodge. Brough Lodge, built for Sir Arthur Nicolson of Lochend in around 1820, is castellated, Gothic in style with classical and Moorish detailing on the screen walls. On the west front of Brough Lodge is a paved terrace with entrance steps leading down between two lower garden areas.
Type of Site
Mid-19th century picturesque landscape laid out around a castellated villa, incorporating an Iron Age broch as a focal feature within parkland.
Location and Setting
Fetlar is one of Shetland's northern isles. Brough Lodge is situated in west Fetlar, on the Ness of Brough some 2km south of the Oddsta ferry terminal. Fetlar is relatively undeveloped and maintains a traditional pattern of crofting settlement, amidst a distinctive vegetation pattern of rough grazing and serpentine heathland.
Brough lies on the summit and west-facing slopes of a low hill. The site commands views across the Colgrave Sound to the island of Hascosay and inland to the east. Brough Lodge and its ancillary buildings form a distinctive landmark, and are prominent in views from the B9088 to the south east.
The designed landscape centers on The Tower, the site of an Iron Age broch. The parkland extended across the Ness of Brough, to the west of the Lodge; this area being laid out as a golf course during the 19th /early 20th century. The extent of the designed landscape, including this former parkland is c 25ha (62 acres).
Brough Lodge, built for Sir Arthur Nicolson of Lochend in c 1820, is castellated, Gothic in style with classical and Moorish detailing on the screen walls. The house is symmetrical, two storeys, with single-storey flanking wings. To the north an entrance court is enclosed by a single-storey, piend-roofed outbuilding adjoining to the east. The west screen wall has a gateway formed by a round-arched pend set with a pediment containing a coat of arms. The screen wall continues north terminating at a single-storey, Gothic windowed, two-bay pavilion with a tower set over its ogee-arched door.
North-east of the Lodge, on top of a hillock is The Tower, a sham outlook tower. It is oval in plan, crenellated and incorporates the remains of an Iron Age broch. It is lime-harl-pointed rubble with sandstone ashlar dressings.
East of the Lodge is a series of walled gardens. That directly to the east has high walls and is terminated on its east side by a lean-to outhouse. A ruined pier, accessed from the front drive, and a well also form part of the designed landscape.
Drives and Approaches
The main point of access to Brough was from Brough Ness pier, to the south west. A track leads from the pier to the public road, the B9088. This public road is the only road access to Brough Lodge. Other drives encircling Brough Ness and approaching from the north-east and south-east are no longer used (1878, OS 6").
The parkland lies to the north-east of the Lodge. It comprises a square, walled enclosure with Brough Lodge and its walled gardens forming the south-west quarter. The Broch stands at the centre of the parkland, which is grazed.
Directly north of the house is an enclosed area of grassland, currently used as an agricultural yard. The Tower stands at the north-east angle of the perimeter walls. Early 19th century photographs show this area was used to store peat.
The Brough Ness peninsula is part of the original parkland. During the 19th century it was laid out with a golf course. It is now rough grassland with no surviving design features.
On the west front of Brough Lodge is a paved terrace with entrance steps leading down between two lower garden areas. The northern garden was set formally with a fountain (early 20th century photographs, Fetlar Museum) which no longer survives. The southern garden retains some shrubs from a previous planting scheme.
The Walled Garden lies east of the house. Its eastern boundary is formed by a lean-to building and the garden is subdivided by a low wall. The western compartment, that directly against the house, was the ornamental flower garden (1878, OS 6").
To the south is another Walled Garden similarly subdivided, and enclosed by slightly lower walls. These appear to have been ornamental gardens (1878, OS 6").
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- Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland
Brough Lodge was built in around 1820 for Arthur Nicolson, who enclosed the Fetlar lands for sheep and evicted the tenants. When Arthur Nicolson died in 1863, the title passed to his cousin Arthur Bolt Nicolson, who spent much of his life in Australia. Arthur T.B.R. Nicolson, born in Australia and educated at Melbourne College, was a Justice of the Peace for Victoria and, later, Shetland. He married Annie Rutherford (d.1930), who maintained a detailed diary of life at Brough and on Fetlar recording how the Brough landscape accommodated golf, tennis, fishing and shooting (Brough Lodge Trust).
Detailed HistoryThe following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:
Reason for Inclusion
A notable early-mid 19th century picturesque composition, particularly unusual in Shetland. It incorporates an Iron Age broch as a parkland focal point which may indicate an earlier underlying landscape structure.
Main Phases of Landscape Development
Brough Lodge was built in c 1820 for Arthur Nicolson, who enclosed the Fetlar lands for sheep and evicted the tenants. In 1825 Nicolson took the title Baronet of Nova Scotia, a family title which had lapsed on the death of the 6th Baronet in 1743. The Nicolson family, long-established in Shetland, owned large areas of land, including Papa Stour. However, they only acquired the Fetlar lands in 1805, which were received in payment of a debt owed to Arthur Nicolson by Andrew Bruce of Urie (d.1803).
Initially, Nicolson lived in the Haa at Urie before building Brough Lodge. The main entrance to this castellated, Gothic house lay on the south side. The roof was crenellated all around with bartizans at each corner. Nicolson built The Tower, c 1840 on the site of an Iron Age broch, 'situate on the top of a small hill; the walls entirely in ruins; without any outworks as its situation did not require them' (Low, 1879). A stair-tower adjoined the tower. Nicolson also built another folly, the Round House at Gruting, which seems originally intended as a summer house but came to be used as the estate rent office. Local tradition recounts that it was built out of stones from evicted tenants' houses. Sir Arthur only spent one night there and heard strange noises during the night. Thereafter he was dissuaded from staying at Gruting. The noises were rumoured to be the curses of tenants cleared from the land.
When Arthur Nicolson died in 1863, the title passed to his cousin Arthur Bolt Nicolson, who spent much of his life in Australia. He became Commissioner of Goldfields and died in Australia in 1879. Despite returning briefly to Britain, it is unlikely that he ever visited Fetlar. The estate itself was settled on Lady Eliza Jane Nicolson (d.1891), Arthur Nicolson's widow, who lived in Cheltenham. On her death the estate passed to Arthur T.B.R. Nicolson (1842-1917), Arthur Bolt Nicolson's son, who had inherited the title. In 1891 he was living with his family at Fetlar, which was in a poor condition, having been neglected by absentee ownership. Arthur T.B.R. Nicolson, born in Australia and educated at Melbourne College, was a Justice of the Peace for Victoria and, later, Shetland. He married Annie Rutherford (d.1930), who maintained a detailed diary of life at Brough and on Fetlar recording how the Brough landscape accommodated golf, tennis, fishing and shooting (Brough Lodge Trust).
When Nicolson died in 1917, the estate continued in the Nicholson family. Brough Lodge has been unoccupied since 1988 and the outbuildings used for agricultural storage.