Thirlestane Castle

Thirlestane Castle from Lauder
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Thirlestane Castle from Lauder

A fine turreted edifice built in contrasting shades of red sandstone located just to the northeast of Lauder on the route of the Southern Upland Way. Thirlestane was the historic seat of the Earls (and solitary Duke) of Lauderdale until the latter part of the 20th Century and is still the Maitland family home.

Built as a square tower-house around 1590 by John Maitland (c.1545-95), younger brother of William Maitland of Lethington (c.1525-73) to replace an earlier mediaeval castle on the same site.

On the orders of the 1st and only Duke of Lauderdale, the castle was rebuilt between 1670 and 1676 by Sir William Bruce (1630 - 1710), Master of Works to the King, to form much of what we see today. Bruce was assisted by builder and architect Robert Mylne (1633 - 1710). Internally, Bruce created lavish staterooms, exhibiting fine plasterwork, intended to reflect the power and influence of the Duke. Further enhancements took place in 1840, when David Bryce (1803 - 76) added to the central tower and new wings, although these were all very much in sympathy with Bruce's original work. Bryce and William Burn (1789 - 1870) were responsible for the Jacobean-style Dining Room.

In 1984, Captain Gerald Maitland-Carew passed ownership of the house to a charitable trust set up for its protection and it has subsequently been subject to a major renovation programme, supported by the National Heritage Memorial Fund. In addition to the architecture, Thirlestane is noted today for collections of pictures, furniture, china, together with a historic toy collection. A Border Country Life Museum occupies the South wing.

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