Cortes House was built in 1810 during the Regency period and has a Grade B listing from Historic Scotland. It is a wonderful example of the elegance of the architecture at the time. The house has a number of remarkable architectural features, including a beautiful cupola above an atrium around which the main rooms in the house are located. It was originally at the centre of a 2,000 acre estate which included the largest mountain in the area, Mormond Hill; indeed the house was originally known as Mormond House.
Lonmay village, where Cortes House is located, is actually renowned as the place where Elvis Presley’s ancestors once lived. Lonmay church has a plaque which refers to Andrew Presley, who left Scotland in 1770 to travel to the colonies! The rest, as they say, is history…
The area around Cortes (Cortes actually means “circle” in Celtic) is a favourite with archaeologists (and now Outlander enthusiasts!), with many Celtic stone circles and cairns (stone burial grounds), some of which date back to the Bronze Age (400-700BC). The nearest is at Memsie (2 miles away), and this great cairn (24 metres in diameter and 4 metres high) is the sole survivor of three huge cairns. Another example can be seen at Strichen, where the circle dates back to the second millennium BC.
Cortes was purchased by its current owners in 2002. When they bought it, the house had been converted into seven flats. The central atrium had all been boarded up, and they had a wonderful time lovingly restoring it, and discovering all the hidden features under the boarding. As cornicing and old fireplaces began to appear, they became even more determined to retain these beautiful original features, and have tried hard to give the house a modern flair and sense of character, while keeping it as grand and elegant as ever.