A private Scottish island that was home to hundreds of kelp industry laborers in the 19th century is up for sale for the first time in 70 years.
Ulva Island, a 4,500-acre isle that welcomes hikers and history buffs, is now selling for £4.25 million (US$5.47 million). The entire island has been in private hands for centuries, but whole villages of tenants lived there at its peak to farm the land and produce kelp from the isle’s abundance of seaweed, according to a website promoting tourism to the island. The island’s name is derived from an old Norse phrase meaning “wolf island.“
Today, the island has one principal residence for the owner, plus a variety of buildings used to support tourist activity, including eight houses, a restaurant, a church and numerous relics and ruins.. Two buildings are currently rented out on a short-term basis.
The island is owned by a descendant of the late Lady Edith Congleton, who reportedly bought the island after WWII for £11,000.
Among the island’s former residents is Maj. Gen. Lachlan MacQuarie, a former governor of Australia’s New South Wales who was born on Ulva in 1810 and was later dubbed the “Father of Australia.” MacQuarie once wrote: “When a man of ideas, like myself, emerges from a mere speck in the ocean, he becomes a citizen of the world.”
The mere speck that is Ulva has traces of human inhabitants dating to 5,600 B.C. and is connected to other historical figures like Sir Walter Scott and “Peter Rabbit” creator Beatrix Potter, who visited the island often and dedicated books to its owner at the time.
The main mansion, known as Ulva House, is a historically landmarked Georgian Revival home built in 1950. Interior details include large common spaces—a drawing room, study, dining room and library—with fireplaces and detailed moulding, according to Knight Frank, which is handling the listing. A sweeping staircase leads to the second floor, where there is a large master suite with a bathroom and dressing room, plus four additional bedrooms.
A separate staircase that links the attic and second floor to the kitchen was once used for staff and is connected to the former maid’s quarters that now include a bedroom, sitting room and bath.
“The house has been changed very little since its construction and would now benefit from a sensitive program of modernization and refurbishment,” according to the listing.
Ran Morgan, a partner and head of Scottish residential at Knight Frank, said the island is the most beautiful property he’s ever handled.
“The scenery is truly breathtaking but the island is more than just landscape or seascape; it has a range of property and land types, there is fascinating geology, a huge amount to explore both on land and sea and it has excellent sporting opportunities,” Mr. Morgan said in a statement. “A property such as this will always surprise when offered to the open market.”
The island sits just off the west coast of the Isle of Mull, which has regular ferry service to the mainland. From Ulva, residents get sweeping views of nearby Treshnish Isles and the mountains of Isle of Mull.
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