Zoom imageBrough Lodge. Photo courtesy of David Gifford. Brough Lodge in Fetlar, and its surrounding buildings, were once the home of the Nicolson family. The last Lady Nicolson died in the late 1980s and the house has been empty since long before that. The house has been deteriorating at an alarming rate ever since, but a Trust has been formed (Brough Lodge Trust) to work towards restoring the building. The Trust secured funding and has completed work to restore the building to a wind and watertight state. The Trust is now progressing with fund raisiing to full restore the building. Full details on how the project and fundraising is progressing can be found on their website.
There are a number of compelling reasons why Brough Lodge is one of Shetland's most interesting old buildings and why it is well-worth rescuing.
Architecturally, it stands out on the landscape as rather eccentric with its mid 19th century folly built high on the site of an Iron Age broch. The house itself is quite unique. On the outside, its original roof was turreted all around, and a stained-glass window filled part of the wall of one of the upstairs bedrooms. The original entrance when the house was built around 1820 was on the south side, and this probably led into an entrance hall. Probably late in the 19th century this was blocked up into a window and the entrance hall made into the dining room. The main entrance then moved to the courtyard at the opposite side of the house. The stained-glass window, or at least the part of it which could be rescued, was taken to Fetlar Interpretive Centre in pieces, and will hopefully be restored as part of the planned work.
Enclosing the courtyard of the house is a wall which extends along the edge of the grounds as a sort of façade. High above the courtyard entrance is the Nicolson coat-of-arms in stone which, although weathered, is still discernible. In front of this entrance are what were once small gardens which harboured low-lying trees, as testified by photographs from around 1900.
Following round from the front garden, the façade leads into the Chapel. This building has never in living memory been used as a chapel and, given the builder's preoccupation with folly-type structures, may even have originally been built as some sort of mock-monument.
Behind the house and chapel is the Tower. It was used in the 19th century as an astronomical observatory, and the large lens from the telescope is now on display at Fetlar Interpretive Centre. The Tower was refurbished at the turn of the 20th century when the upper part had wood-lined walls. It also had a wooden bridge to allow access to the upper part. Within the Brough Estate, Fetlar has by far the largest collection of 19th century folly-type buildings in Shetland, if we count the Tower, the Round House at Gruting and perhaps the Chapel at Brough.
Find out more at broughlodge.org