While staying at the nearby Roxburghe Hotel,
owned by the Duke of Roxburghe,
how could we resist visiting his family home at Floors Castle?
The Duke of Roxburghe is the 2nd biggest private landowner in Scotland, after the Duke of Buccleuch. Floors Castle, six miles from the Roxburghe Hotel on the far side of Kelso, has been described as Scotland's largest inhabited castle, but the story behind it is definitely an intimate family one.
The castle was built in 1721 for the First Duke of Roxburghe, and was inherited by the present Duke in 1974 when his father died at the age of 61. The new Duke, the 10th, was only 19 years old and suddenly responsible for the estate which now employs 170 people, owns 250 properties and about 56,000 acres of land. The castle itself has 154 rooms, 365 windows, two paintings by Matisse, two by Augustus John and one by Pierre Bonnard. Plus an original first draft of a Burns poem, 'On Seeing a Wounded Hare Limp by Me'.
All this we learn on a leisurely self-guided tour through the castle, each room staffed by friendly guides who all manage the difficult task of telling oft-repeated stories as if for the first time. There was a genuine sense of enthusiasm for the castle, and a feeling of pride in working there.
The Brussels Tapestry
One of the most fabulous features is a vast 17th-century Brussels tapestry, so large it had to be cut in two to get it to fit either side of a door. The guide points out the amusing detail of someone's leg being on one side of the door and their foot on the other.
The castle's got two cafés, an adventure playground, a walled garden, a plant centre and a deli that's well stocked with tempting local produce. Little wonder that it's been made one of VisitScotland's 5-Star Visitor Attractions. We wouldn't argue with that at all.
Scottish Downton Abbey
Floors Castle is one of the most enjoyable Scottish castles we've seen. There's humour here, there's history, there's tragedy and tales of European royalty. There's even an American aristocratic involvement with the Duchess May, who was married to the 8th Duke. It was like a tartan Downton Abbey. In fact as we'd entered through the grand front door we'd definitely felt that we could well be arriving at a real-life Downton Abbey, though Mr Carson would surely have frowned on our jeans and trainers.
Dec 26, 16 03:03 AM
Beyond London Travel visits Floors Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders, family home of the Duke of Roxburghe and one of VisitScotland's 5-star visitor attractions, a Scottish Downton Abbey.
Dec 04, 16 12:37 PM
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