Stately Homes and Castles
A few of the great reiving families were useful to King James and were granted lands and estates for their help and co-operation.
Gradually, as peace broke through, The Borders slipped into tranquillity and prosperity. Stately homes replaced castles and keeps. Some castles remained – like Bamburgh and Alnwick, the home of the Duke of Northumberland (and also The Harry Potter films) but most of the old castles and peel towers fell into disrepair. Their remains today give a haunting reminder of the past. Hermitage Castle, near Newcastleton is a fine example. People say it has a brooding atmosphere all of its own. No wonder – it was where Mary Queen of Scots visited her lover, the ill-fated Earl of Bothwell, and it commanded the most fortified valley in Europe.
For travellers who enjoy visiting stately homes and castles, The Borders has much to offer, from the ruined Neidpath Castle and Hermitage Castle, to Manderston the Edwardian extravanganza, with its unique silver staircase.
In between these two extremes are many other properties open to the public, with collections of fine furniture and paintings and beautiful gardens. These include Robert Adam’s masterpiece, Mellerstain, with its magnificent library ceiling, Traquair, with its Stuart connections, one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland, Floors Castle, the largest inhabited house in Scotland, Thirlestane Castle, with its wonderful restoration ceilings, Paxton House, a very fine Palladian house with a notable art collection, Abbotsford, once the home of Sir Walter Scott, Bowhill, with its renowned art collection and miniature theatre, Monteviot House with its superb gardens and Ferniehirst Castle, a Border fortress.
Many of the stately homes have facilities for weddings and functions and some of them host summer concerts, with professional musicians performing in superb surroundings. Various other events are held throughout the year.
Mellerstain HouseMellerstain, the Adam masterpiece and one of Scotland’s most beautiful houses, is famous for its prize-winning gardens and lakeside walks, and for its interior plasterwork, featuring intricate classical themes and rich Adam colours. Much admired, too, are the fine paintings, furniture and needlework collected over centuries.
Mellerstain is open to visitors during the summer (see website for days, times etc.), and to tour-groups and for parties of all kinds, by appointment, throughout the year.
The gardens may be hired for product-launches, ‘away-days’, fairs and concerts, while the state-rooms of the house provide a glorious setting for weddings, with magnificent four-poster bedrooms for the bridal party.
Mellerstain is a ‘must-see’ for all Borders visitors!
Manderston is the supreme country house of Edwardian Scotland; the swan-song of its era.
A house on which no expense was spared with opulent staterooms, the only silver-staircase in the world and extensive “downstairs” domestic quarters. It stands in 56 acres of formal gardens, with magnificent stables and stunning marble dairy.
John Kinross the architect, when enquiring how large his budget was, was told that money was no object. It was built for Sir James Miller who married the Honourable Eveline Curzon, daughter of Lord Scarsdale, head of one of the oldest families in the country.
The House and Gardens are open to the public, and all enquiries are most welcome, especially for Open Days, Accommodation, Dining and Events and Corporate Days.
Abbotsford House in the Scottish BordersAbbotsford is the house built and lived in by Sir Walter Scott, the 19th century novelist, and author of timeless classics such as Waverley, Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and The Lady of the Lake.
In 1811 Sir Walter bought the property which was to become Abbotsford, set in the heart of the Scottish Borders, on the banks of the River Tweed. The building of Abbotsford took six years, and was completed in 1824. William Atkinson was the chosen architect, and George Bulloch gave his advice on the furnishings, while local craftsmen carried out the work.
The house was opened to the public in 1833, five months after Sir Walter’s death, and has been enjoyed by visitors ever since. The house contains an impressive collection of historic relics, weapons and armour, (also Rob Roy’s Gun and Montrose’s Sword), and a library containing over 9,000 rare volumes.
Visitors will be able to see Sir Walter Scott’s Study, Library, Drawing Room, Entrance Hall, Armouries and the Dining Room where he died on 21st September 1832.
Neidpath Castle, near Peebles, T:(01721) 720333
Hermitage Castle, nr. Newcastleton, T:(01387) 376222
Manderston, near Duns, T:(01361) 883450
Mellerstain, near Gordon, T:(01573) 410225
Traquair, near Innerleithen, T:(01896) 830323
Floors Castle, Kelso, T:(01573) 223333
Thirlestane Castle, near Lauder, T:(01578) 722430
Paxton House, near Berwick upon Tweed, T:(01289) 386291
Abbotsford, near Melrose, T: (01896) 752043
Bowhill, near Selkirk, T:(01750) 22204
Monteviot House, Ancrum, near Jedburgh (house open end June/July only), T:(01835) 830380
Ferniehirst Castle, Jedburgh (open July only) 01835 862201