Armoury collection under the hammer

Auchtertool House and (below) the stone-flagged entrance hall with some of the antiques which went to auction. Pics: David Wear and Lyon & Turnbull
Auchtertool House and (below) the stone-flagged entrance hall with some of the antiques which went to auction. Pics: David Wear and Lyon & Turnbull

A collection of beautiful antiques which previously furnished Auchtertool House near Kirkcaldy, went to auction yesterday in Edinburgh.

A total of 115 lots, including one of the largest collections of arms and armour, went under the hammer at Lyon & Turnbull in the capital.

The eclectic mix of items ranged from terracotta pots and stags heads to furniture and fine oil paintings.

Auchtertool House was the home of the late Peter Nicholson, who not only restored the Georgian mansion, but was one of the leading lights in castle and tower house restorations around Scotland.

His projects included, Edinample Castle, The House of the Binns, Fordell Tower House, the Bank of Scotland Headquarters on The Mound in Edinburgh, Argyll Lodgings in Stirling Castle and Pitcullo Castle.

Trevor Kyle, a director of Lyon & Turnbull, said: “Peter was unique in that he took on both the restoration of the building and all the fixtures and fittings within the building, including the furniture.

“He also designed and handmade furniture in keeping with the design and period of the property.

“He was often seen at auction rooms in Edinburgh, including Lyon & Turnbull, buying items which he would then lovingly restore.

“He was passionate about old buildings, Scottish furniture and arms and armour.

‘‘He was a tireless man, with incredible attention to detail and many of the great houses and castles in Scotland contain furniture restored or made by him.”

Peter bought Auchtertool as a ruin in the 1960s after running a successful antiques business in Edinburgh.

And over the last 40 years, he restored it to its former glory.

Lori Nicholson, Peter’s wife, said: “It was a labour of love, it took most of Peter’s lifetime to restore Auchtertool.

‘‘He was so busy restoring other peoples’ castles and tower houses that Auchtertool was often used as a storeroom and workshop for other projects.

“Life was never boring with Peter around.

‘‘He often made items of furniture without a plan, it was all in his head.

‘‘He used the old fashioned methods, never a nail or screw in sight, all beautiful dove-tail joints and wooden pegs.”

One of Peter’s greatest projects was the restoration of Fordell Castle which was purchased by the lawyer and Conservative politician Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.

The castle was used as a private residence by him and his wife Lady Sam Fairbairn, who continued to live there until 1997.

In November 2007, Fordell Castle was sold for £3,850,000 to an undisclosed buyer, making it one of the highest-priced homes sold in Scotland.