The Early Days (1505 – 1622)
Bunchrew comes from the old Gaelic word ‘Buncrev’ or ‘Buncrieve’ meaning the ‘root of the tree’ or ‘the wooded slope’. The house was started as far back as 1505 by Alexander of Lovat, but then had just two rooms. It would have been the type of dwelling known at the time as a “black house” and the family would have lived in it along with their animals. There is a fine reconstruction of this type of house at the Battlefield at Culloden. The original wall still stands behind the wood panelling in the Drawing Room. The House was enlarged to near its present state by Simon the eighth Lord Lovat, for his wife Lady Jane Stuart, a cousin of the Earl of Moray. It was completed in 1621.
Lady Jane’s Habit
The house was built largely due to the ambition of Lady Jane who had her husband build two grand houses – one at Dalcross and one at Bunchrew. Although she preferred Bunchrew as a residence she had Dalcross (near where Inverness airport stands today) built in order to keep up with her cousin who was at that time building Castle Stuart (also near the airport). All three residences were finished in 1621. Sadly Lady Jane did not live long to enjoy her two houses and died at Bunchrew in 1622. The cause of her death is not certain – it might have been perfectly innocent or just perhaps, she might have asked her husband to build her another house!!!