Newton Don lies in the lowland hills near Kelso, overlooking the Eden Water, a tributary of the Tweed. It owes its name to the Don family who first acquired the former manorial lands of Newton around 1648.
Sir Alexander Don inherited the estate and baronetcy in 1776 and over the next forty years the family brought about significant change. The Dons sought to expand the pleasure grounds and to create a secluded, fashionable, country seat and by 1800, a visitor described the estate as a ‘remarkably pretty, cheerful place’.
Between 1817 and 1820 renowned English architect Sir Robert Smirke (1781-1867) made considerable alterations to the eighteenth-century house, for which Robert Adam had prepared the original plans. Unfortunately, the transformation had strained the family coffers to such an extent that the estate was sold in 1847.
Harrietfield was the farmhouse of the Newton Don estate home farm. It may have been built after the marriage of Lady Harriet Cunningham to Alexander Don in 1778, hence the name. It was clearly at some stage aggrandised, the symmetrical wings and elaborate main room are both unusual for a house of this size. Most of Lots 1 to 31 featuring in our February 2023 edition of Five Centuries, including the group of early Meissen porcelain, originate from the collection of the new owner of Newton Don and latterly Harrietfield in the mid 19th century.
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