Marchmont House, a mansion in the Borders, is the base for a community of creators

Deep in the Borders countryside there is a thriving community of makers and creators using their skill and talent to craft timeless pieces of art. 

Marchmont House, a Palladian mansion near Greenlaw, is home to studios and workshops inhabited by people working in traditional crafts such as rush seat chair making and stone carving, as well as fine artists and silversmiths. 

The Marchmont Makers Foundation is an independent charity that supports creativity in the Scottish Borders and beyond.

 In particular, it assists artists in their efforts to become financially sustainable and helps projects that inspire art in the community, schools and the next generation. 

Its Creative Spaces initiative encompasses artist studios, residency retreat spaces and performance venues. A series of 19th-century outbuildings surrounding a courtyard near the house are at the heart of the initiative.

In the spring, the estate became home to the Marchmont Silversmithing Workshop, a fully-equipped workspace, managed by the Scottish Goldsmiths Trust. 

The workshop provides opportunities for three emerging silversmiths to develop their businesses over a two-year tenancy, with mentoring from experienced silversmith Ryan McClean. 

Ryan made the cake-top decoration for the Queen’s 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebration cake and has work in the V&A permanent collection. 

There is also space for shorter residencies, enabling silversmiths from across the UK and beyond to develop new work in precious metals and contribute to the Marchmont community.

In 2020, the Scottish Goldsmiths Trust was gifted the entire contents of the workshop of one of Scotland’s finest master silversmiths.

Graham Stewart, who died in 2020, was regarded as one of the stars of his generation. His sculpture, The Honours of Scotland, sits in the Scottish Parliament, and he is responsible for the claret jugs that are part of the Millennium Collection for Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence in Edinburgh. 

His workshop in Dunblane’s High Street included the tools, machinery and books he had collected throughout his career and which he used on a daily basis. 

It was Graham’s wish that these items continue to be used to support early-career silversmiths in Scotland. Having access to a fully-equipped workshop is a valuable part of the Marchmont set-up for emerging silversmiths. 

Built in 1750, Marchmont itself has one of the finest Georgian and Arts & Crafts interiors in Scotland. And the workshop promotes the ancient tradition of silversmithing as an important part of Scotland’s craft heritage.