A question mark remains over exactly how old the property may be. Local maps of the area refer to the adjacent road as ‘Borries Bray’ and show a building on the present location dating back as far as 1808. However, the Dundee Evening Telegraph included an article in its publication on Saturday 6th March 1965 which states that John Borrie built the house in 1845. John Borrie started life as a tobacconist but quickly developed a large fleet of vessels which plied their trade in Jute, a commodity that at the time was key to the local economy. Many of the large houses in the area, particularly in nearby Broughty Ferry were built by these wealthy merchants known as ‘Jute Barons’.
John was fanatical about his business and mounted a telescope on the roof of the house so that he may scan and sweep the Tay approaches hoping to pick out a sail and identify his vessels. When he was satisfied that he had his boat sighted he would mount his horse and ride to the port meeting the first boat along side. Mr Jock Borrie, great grandson of John Borrie has provided much of the history of the property and puts forward a reasoned argument that supports the local story that a ghost can be heard in the house after dark.
The sound of pacing has been reported by locals who frequented Morven House when it operated a bar open to non-residents. Ironically the same report has not been made by guests staying in the house. Jock Borrie reports that the compulsive floor pacing may be traceable to the master bedroom. Post 1850 John Borrie lived celibataire after the death of his wife and mother to his two children at the age of 29. In his final years the gentlemen tormented himself over family and fortune.
The passage of ownership of the property is not so clear in the early 1900’s but it was reported that the telescope on the roof was used by a resident in the late 1930’s to once again sweep the Tay approaches. This time it is said that the occupant of the house was spying on the movements of vessels at the start of the second world war.
The oldest known picture of Morven House was taken in 1946 by Jimmy Graham an accountant who purchased the building then known as Agra Bank as a virtual ruin. Mr Graham and his family were the first to operate a bed and breakfast from the property, serving the mainly Glasgow community who used to holiday in Carnoustie and nearby Arbroath. Due to the demand in the summer for accommodation in this area, Mr Graham’s children used to volunteer to sleep in tents in the garden so that their rooms may be let to visitors.
In mid 1978 the property was sold to Mr & Mrs Taylor who established the business as a hotel and obtained a drinks licence. We took over the business in 1989, the bar has now closed and the business concentrates on providing high quality bed and breakfast accommodation.
The architectural style of Morven House is not restricted to the shores of the UK. Similar buildings can be found in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the public buildings including the town hall built in the early 1800’s are very similar to Morven House. The latest information from Jock Borrie is based on research from the WL Crowther Library in Tasmania. The public buildings in Murray Street, Tasmania were thought to be convict built around the start of the 1800’s..
Come and visit us and be part of the next chapter in the history of this beautiful building.