The Old Schoolhouse
The Old Schoolhouse was designed by Inverness architect William Mackintosh Senior in 1875. Architect Thomas Munro is listed as being responsible for later additions and alterations.
When purchased by the current owners in 1997, The Schoolhouse contained the two-room schoolroom, with two fireplaces in it and a small room off where the children kept their paints, with a door to the outside and a courtyard.
The Schoolhouse abutted a separate but adjacent schoolmaster's house, at the time comprising a library, front hall, three downstairs rooms and a small kitchen that led into the courtyard.
Below the garden wall was the canteen building, in which the children had their meals. In 1977, there was an additional building to the north of the canteen, which was the first annex to the 1875 schoolhouse. Not long after 1997, it was removed to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore.
One of the first actions in 1997 was to remove the flimsy wooden partitioning in the "Big room", now the Drawing room, between the two classrooms, and to replace one of the fireplaces with a door that led directly into the schoolmaster's house. The felt carpeting was removed to reveal a beautiful teak floor, typical of the imports from the empire that flooded Britain in the late 19th century and is still in place today.
At the same time, it was decided to decorate what was then a large, but very plain room, which had cornices on the long sides, but nothing on the ends.
Muralists Peter and Rebecca Thwaites from Gloucestershire who used the trompe l'oeil (deceive the eye) method of painting to create the illusion of cornices on the short sides to match the others were commissioned. They also painted the doorway at the end of the room next to the front hall with designs inspired by architectural features in the ruined priory at Beauly. Next, they decorated above the windows with softening lines and above the doorways into the schoolmaster's house, they used schoolroom images to keep the connection with the building's former use.
The second phase of renovation was carried out in the early 2000s by renowned local architect, Hector Macdonald. This included connecting the dining end of the big room with the schoolmaster's portion by converting the courtyard into a kitchen that flowed open plan into the former parlour, making the floor plan contiguous. One of the adjacent downstairs rooms was divided into a bathroom and a larder for the kitchen.
At that time, the house consisted of one-a-half floors, with only one upstairs bedroom at the landing level and considerable attic space above. The staircase was continued into the attic, creating two bedrooms and a shower room in that space. Knockbain as it is today was now complete.
This area of the Highlands is unique for its proximity to the city of Inverness and its easy access to the Great Glen, together with its many tourist attractions. Yet, just a short distance away from the popular centres, the beautiful countryside remains unspoilt and tranquil, providing a haven for wildlife. Close by is the beautiful Reelig glen, with lovely walks through some of Scotland's finest and tallest trees. Strathfarrar and Glen Affric, two National Nature Reserves with remnants of the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest set in a landscape of outstanding beauty lie nearby. This lovely, open countryside offers the best in rural sport and recreation, from enjoying the native wildlife, to walking, cycling and riding on forest tracks, and fishing for salmon and trout on the many local rivers and lochs nearby.
Beauly, a charming and prosperous village with a good selection of shops, hotels and a railway station, is about 5 miles away. There is an excellent primary school at nearby Kirkhill and the city of Inverness, about 10 miles distant, is a vibrant and diverse city which offers a comprehensive range of shops, schools and recreational facilities. International air links and national rail links are also available from Inverness airport, about 15 miles.