Carberry Tower

Carberry Tower
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Carberry Tower

A 16th Century tower house, now much extended, Carberry Tower is located 2½ miles (4 km) south of Musselburgh and is today run as a residential Christian conference centre.

The tower was originally owned by the Johnstone family, and then by the Elphinstones, the Blairs of Lochwood, the Dicksons and the Fullertons before passing back to the Elphinstone family through marriage in 1801. Conversion into a baronial country seat began in 1819. This conversion was continued in 1860 by architect David Bryce (1803-76) and was completed during a further refurbishment in 1909 by Thomas Ross. The interior is mostly early 20th Century and makes extensive use of wood in the public spaces.

Just in front of the Tower, Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87), surrendered to her Protestant Lords in June 1567.

Sydney, the 16th Lord Elphinstone, married Mary Frances Bowes-Lyon, daughter of Claude, the 14th Earl of Strathmore (1855 - 1944) and sister of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002). When King George VI visited Holyrood Palace, the Queen would bring her daughters to stay at Carberry. Their bedroom is now referred to as The Queen's Room.

When the widowed Lady Elphinstone died in 1961 she gave the property to the Church of Scotland to be used as a youth and conference centre. The church built a sympathetically-styled chapel in the grounds in 1965. In 1996, both Carberry Tower and the surrounding estate were purchased by the Carberry Trust, an ecumenical charitable trust, under the patronage of Lord Mackay of Clashfern (b.1927). By 1999, the trust had raised a total £460,000 and repaid the purchase loan granted by the Church of Scotland.

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