Sir Charles Cayzer bought Ralston House in 1890 and then proceeded, with the help of the architectural firm, J. & J. Hutchinson, to transform it from a country house into what the periodical press described as a “palatial” residence.
Amongst other things he installed electric lighting and a well-stocked library as well as creating a winter garden and an aviary. More than one hundred craftsmen carried out the work and on its completion Sir Charles gave them a sumptuous supper at a hotel in Glasgow.
By the later 1890s Ralston was being threatened by the creeping suburbs of Glasgow so, reluctantly, Sir Charles searched for a new family home. His choice fell upon Gartmore, near Aberfoyle in Perthshire, which he bought from the colourful, but by now penniless, Robert Bontine Cunnighame Graham to whose family it had belonged for centuries.
Accustomed to the comforts of modern living, Sir Charles found it necessary to make radical changes to the attractive late 17th century house: in fact he gutted it, employing as his architect, David Barclay, a pupil of Charles Rennie-Macintosh.
In addition, he made considerable improvements to both the farms and village houses which formed part of the estate, as well as renovating Gartmore church. “The village, formerly so neglected, now looks like a thriving hamlet…” wrote a former resident. These words reflected the gratitude of many. Gartmore was to become Sir Charles’s favourite home.