Floors Castle

Floors Castle, Kelso
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Floors Castle, Kelso

A magnificent stately home built between 1718 and 1725 for John Ker, 1st Duke of Roxburghe (c.1682 - 1740), Floors Castle lies within fine parkland just to the north of the River Tweed, a mile (1.5 km) west of Kelso in the Scottish Borders.

Designed by William Adam (1689 - 1748) but greatly influenced by Sir John Vanbrugh, the castle was much remodelled into a Tudoresque manor by William Playfair (1838-49) for the 6th Duke of Roxburgh. It was visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1867. Today, Floors is said to be the largest inhabited home in Scotland and remains the seat of the Dukes of Roxburgh, who were originally the Kers of Cessford. The house overlooks the river to the southeast and comprises a main block with two large symmetrical wings. These castellated buildings form three sides of a north-facing courtyard. It has been Category-A listed since 1971 owing to its historical and architectural importance.

Floors contains a large collection of art ranging from paintings by Raeburn and Gainsborough, to a collection of porcelain, a Bird Room, a treasure hoard, and 15th-century Brussels tapestries.

In the surrounding estate a holly tree marks the spot where King James II was killed by the accidental explosion of a large cannon, known as The Lion, while besieging the nearby Roxburgh Castle (1460). The impressive gates and lodges were built in 1929 to designs by Reginald Fairlie (1883 - 1952).

In 1953, the castle gained publicity when Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe, was besieged by her adulterous husband, the 9th Duke. She had refused to leave the premises and he denied her water, electricity and other supplies. The couple divorced shortly afterwards. Floors became the 'Greystoke' in the 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes starring Ralph Richardson, Christopher Lambert and Andie MacDowell.

Floors Castle holds the record for Scotland's highest temperature of 35.1 °C (95.1 °F) recorded on 19th July 2022, having overtaken the previous record held by nearby Greycrook since 2003.

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