History and museums
Ardgowan House is a late 18th-century mansion and estate on the Firth of Clyde near Inverkip, Scotland. Ardgowan is located in Inverclyde, in the former county of Renfrewshire. The Ardgowan estate has been held by the Stewart family since the early 15th century. The present house was begun in 1797, and is currently the seat of the Shaw-Stewart Baronets. The house is protected as a category A listed building, and the grounds are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, the national listing of significant gardens.
In 1403, King Robert III granted the lands of Ardgowan to his natural son, Sir John Stewart. In 1667 Archibald Stewart was created a baronet. The 3rd baronet married, in 1730, Helen Houston, heiress of the Shaws of Greenock. Their son Sir John Shaw-Stewart, 4th baronet, commissioned a design for a new house from the architect Hugh Cairncross. Construction began in 1797, and was completed around 1801. The grounds were laid out to designs by James Ramsay from 1800.
In 1825 William Burn was appointed by the 6th baronet to extend the house. Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart, 7th Baronet and his wife Lady Octavia, daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Westminster, continued improvements to the grounds, employing their gardener brought from Eaton Hall, Cheshire to install formal gardens. In 1904 the 8th baronet commissioned Robert Lorimer to design the conservatory. Planting of new trees and shrubs continued until the Second World War, during which the house was employed as a hospital. The house remains home to the Shaw-Stewarts, and is also operated as a venue for rent.
The estate includes the remains of the 15th-century Ardgowan Castle, also known as Inverkip Castle. The three-storey ruin is protected as a category B listed building.
The gothic Chapel of St Michael and All Angels, built in the mid-19th century, is also on the estate.