Cf: Christopher Hussey, The Works of Sir Robert Lorimer, London, 1931, pl. 32 (The Dining Room in the Old Kitchen at Balmanno Castle)
Sir Robert Lorimer, architect of the Thistle Chapel and the National War Memorial in Edinburgh, was a leading designer of Scottish vernacular furniture. In 1916 William S. Miller, a prominent Glasgow shipping magnate, acquired the Balmanno Estate, Bridge of Earn, by Perth and commissioned Lorimer to remodel the castle, a 16th Century moated tower with some later accretions, and to create a series of walled gardens as well as furnishing the place from top to bottom. Balmanno is of particular significance, for Lorimer was at the height of his considerable powers at the time of the project and the castle was his favourite commission; he noted that of the houses he had built (or restored) it was the one he would rather live in.
Lorimer built up a close relationship with the craftsmen of the fashionable Edinburgh cabinet-makers, Whytock & Reid, often sketching out his ideas on the back of an envelope and leaving them considerable leeway in the interpretation of his design. Thus furniture designed by Lorimer has a distinctive restraint, charm and practicality that his imagination breathed into life and these elusive qualities set it apart. He believed that wood 'should tell its own tale'.
The Balmanno dining-room furniture was conceived in the same year that Lorimer acquired Gibliston from distant Campbell cousins, on the other side of Arncroach to Kellie. Thus there are many parallels between the funiture made for Balmanno and Lorimer's own home. The singular quality of Lorimer furniture is achieved by the synthesis of the finest timber and tradition of craftsmanship endowed with the spirit of the architect.
The drawleaf dining-table on 'Lorimer Gothic' legs is the best known design of the architect's Gothic period furniture (circa 1900-1905) although tables of this type were made throughout this career. The original was designed for the dining-room at Melville Street. In 1903 Lorimer wrote to R.S.Dods describing the original table: "in half Gothic and half Dutch manner being made with twisted legs and ends that pull out to make it longer" and in a letter of February 1904 he added "bacon and eggs taste tip-top off it" and at only 27½in. wide "there's grand opportunities for a little innocent foot flirtation". A larger version was made for Gibliston at the same time as the present example and others of similar design for William Burrell's house in Great Western Terrace, Glasgow, for A.Y. Cameron, now at Kellie Castle and for Cameron Corbett for Rowallan, Ayrshire.