Links House at Royal Dornoch, Golf Road, Dornoch, Scotland, IV25 3LW
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Our History

The Story of Links House

Links House is a Scottish manor home in the great country house tradition. The original building was constructed as the manse to the Dornoch Free Church in 1843 at the direction of the Reverend George Rainy Kennedy. Today, over 170 years later, Links House enters a new chapter in its history as a bespoke luxury boutique hotel. Our newly-constructed Mews, Glenshiel and Sporting Bothy are constructed of the finest materials, exciting design style and architectural detail as the Main House.

1843

Links House is a Scottish manor home in the great country house tradition. The original building was constructed as the manse to the Dornoch Free Church in 1843 at the direction of the Reverend George Rainy Kennedy. Today, over 170 years later, Links House enters a new chapter in its history as a bespoke luxury boutique hotel. Our newly-constructed Mews, Glenshiel and Sporting Bothy are constructed of the finest materials, exciting design style and architectural detail as the Main House.

1899

Rev G.R. Kennedy was Minister of the Dornoch Free Church until around 1892. Rev. G.R. Kennedy lived at Links House until he died in 1899 when the house was passed to his son, Dr. George Rainy Kennedy Jr.

1909

Interestingly, in 1909 the Golf Club purchased land adjacent to Links House, with the support of Andrew Carnegie for a new clubhouse from Dr. Kennedy but a condition of the land sale was the Club would not have a liquor license.

1941

pared for use by the Royal Air Force and the storage of Spitfires, Havocs, Whitleys and Wellingtons. In 1943, Dr. Kennedy died and it is believed Links House was requisitioned as wartime Officers Quarters. By 1944 Dornoch was mainly use for Beaufighters but wartime service of Dornoch airfield ceased on September 27, 1945 when the last aircraft took off. In 1943, the estate of Dr. Kennedy sold Links House to Captain Donald Alexander Calder Grant, a decorated member of the Gordon Highlanders, and his wife Jessie Elizabeth.

1964

In 1964, Capt. Grant sold the adjoining property which had been a kitchen garden to his sister-in-law Sheila Wilson who affectionately named the property Glensheil as a conjugation of the Scottish / Gaelic term Glen for pure valley or place and her name Sheila.

2005 Links House Reborn

The idea to transform Links House from a private period manor house to bespoke luxury accommodation first emerged in 2008 when American Todd Warnock was visiting Dornoch on a golf outing. Mr. Warnock had previously visited Dornoch in 2005 staying at Skibo Castle, and he became captivated by the unique history, sunlight, air and ambiance of the surrounding Highlands.

2008

For several years, Mr. Warnock returned to Dornoch for what he coined his Spring and Fall Residencies to remove himself from the world of commerce and to golf, rest, read and write. On one of these Residencies in 2008, while walking up Golf Road for a 2-ball match, Mr. Warnock noted a small for sale sign on Links House and, looking through a morass of overgrown shrubs, trees and untamed grasses, he saw this beautiful early Victorian Georgian home. The idea of Links House, as a highly bespoke comfortable manor house for the most discerning and contemplative of visitors, was born in that moment. After his match, he inquired at the door of Links House, first meeting Jill Dobson who provided a brief tour of the house and its gardens. As he walked through the house, his interest, enthusiasm and energies went into high gear.

2009

In need of expert advice on both renovation and historic preservation, Mr. Warnock sought the services of James Maxwell, principal architect of the renovations at Skibo Castle and designer of their exceptional and architecturally appropriate Golf House. Maxwell & Company is known across the Highlands for the bespoke architectural new build and renovation services for castles, shooting lodges, and fine country houses. Mr. Maxwell met Mr. Warnock at Links House on the occasion of his next visit in 2009 to evaluate the potential conversion of Links House into fine country house accommodation.

2011

In 2011, Warnock and Maxwell conducted an extensive selection process for a general contractor with sufficient skill and attention for detail to implement the renovation and expansion of Links House. The firm of O’Brien Properties was selected based on their understanding of historical renovations and quality craftsmanship. Led by Davy Coburn on site, O’Brien’s began the extensive process of returning Links House to its original structural elements in preparation for renovation and expansion.

2015-16 Links House Expanded

The final chapter in the Links House development was the purchase and rejoining of Links House with Glensheil, the property directly across Kennedy Avenue. Glensheil was originally the kitchen gardens for Links House and was sold to Sheila Wilson in 1964. Sadly, Sheila passed away in 2012 and her son Alistair Wilson and daughter Hazel Cameron called inquiring whether the Warnocks wished to bring Links House completely back to its previous grandeur. The Wilson descendants had decided they would give Warnock a first opportunity to recombine the properties as they had such fond family memories at Links House and Glensheil.