Glencanisp Lodge is a classic Victorian sporting lodge, with a variety of old and modern buildings in its immediate environment.
The original building was built in 1850, as a farm house for the Duke of Sutherland’s new sheep farm on Glencanisp. The house was designed by William Lewis, who also carried out work on Dunrobin Castle for the Duke of Sutherland. John Scobie was the first tenant of the new sheep farm.
The Duke of Sutherland’s family had bought the whole of Assynt in 1757. Assynt was then renowned for cattle grazing but in the early 19th century large scale sheep ranching was wanted and the local people were mostly “cleared” from the interior to make room for the sheep and the much smaller number of shepherds needed to look after them.
In 1881, sheep ranching in its turn was given up and the sheep farm became “Glencanisp Deer Forest” to capitalise on the new passion among the rich and famous of the day for red deer stalking which had been created by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at their royal residence at Balmoral. The Duke of Sutherland now let it to Major Paynter as a shooting estate for £800 a year. And the farmhouse was extended to become a shooting lodge, and many of the outbuildings were added.
It was bought in 1913 by Major-General William Stewart, a crofter’s son from Assynt, who made his fortune in building railways and logging timber in Canada. After him, in 1936, it was bought by Mr Filmer Sankey and his wife Lady Ursula Grosvenor and they more or less immediately split the estate and sold what is now Glencanisp to the Vestey family.
The Vestey family was then reputed to be the richest in the UK after the Royal Family. From the 1890s, they made their fortune from owning cold stores across the UK, Russia, the Baltics, and Western Europe and supplying meat, poultry, eggs and fish; running a huge egg processing enterprise in China, using their own fleet of Blue Star Line refrigerated vessels to supply egg mix to the bakery trades in Europe and the USA until the Communist takeover of China in 1949; and from meat production, processing and distribution from mainly South America. They owned such famous household brands as Oxo, Fray Bentos and Dewhurst Butchers. And in their turn, they acquired Drumrunie Estate to add to their holdings in the area.
Eventually, in 2005 the Vestey family sold the Glencanisp and Drumrunie Estates to the Assynt Foundation, which mounted a community buy out on behalf of the people of Assynt.
Today, Glencanisp Lodge is run as a hospitality business with a dozen bedrooms set in a unique location, although it is closed for business for the whole of 2020.