Redhouse Castle is an impressive, ruined tower house castle situated roughly 2km east of Longniddry, East Lothian, Scotland, UK. It is on the B1377, very close to Spittal. The castle is now designated as a scheduled monument.
The history of Redhouse Castle
Once upon a time, Redhouse Castle was protected as a category A listed building. However, it is no longer protected these days. Often described as an imposing and extensive ruin, the castle consists of a rectangular courtyard enclosing a rather impressive four-storey tower house.
The entrance to this stunning castle is via a wide gateway.
The early history
The very first version of this gorgeous castle appears to have been a religious institution built in the 16th century. Likely a hospice for travellers and pilgrims while it belonged to the Douglas family. In 1421, the Earl of Douglas transferred the estates of Ballencrieff and Gosford into the hands of his mistress, Christian de Ramsay, to provide for her and her children.
Redhouse Castle, a gorgeous manor ranging over four storeys, was built in red sandstone. It remained in the hands of the Douglas family until 1607 when it was sold to John Layng, the Keeper of the Signet. His initials, as well as his wife’s, Rebecca, are carved into the pediment.
In 1608, Layng’s daughter, Jeane, went forth and married Sir Andrew Hamilton of the Hamilton’s of Haddington family. Shortly after they had wed, Sir Andrew applied to the Scottish Parliament to attain the title of Lord Redhouse. When John Layng passed away in 1612, Sir Andrew then became the owner of Redhouse Castle.
Years later, Sir John Hamilton worked to extend the keep into an L-plan including a lectern-style doocot built into the gateway. After the 1745 Jacobite rising, the Hamilton family had to forfeit the castle. This was because Colonel George Hamilton, the very last owner, was hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason at Carlisle Castle.
Redhouse Castle remained empty for a long while until it was purchased by Lord Elibank in 1755. However, he preferred to live in his townhouse on the beautiful High Street in Edinburgh. After being abandoned for many years, the castle was incorporated into the estate of the Earl of Wemyss who resided at Gosford House which was very close by.
In 2013, the market garden reopened to allow visitors.
The current day
Nowadays, Redhouse Castle is permanently closed. You can, however, view it from outside. Redhouse Nurseries and Tea Room, formerly the market garden for the castle, is a buzzing tourist attraction that also allows a great view of the castle.
Redhouse Castle Timeline
- 1421- The Earl of Douglas transfers the estates of Ballencrieff and Gosford into the hands of his mistress, Christian de Ramsay, to provide for her and her children
- 16th century- The castle is built
- 1607- The castle is sold to John Layng, the Keeper of Signet
- 1608- Layng’s daughter, Jeane, goes forth and marries Sir Andrew Hamilton of the Hamilton’s of Haddington family
- 1612, Sir Andrew becomes the owner of Redhouse Castle when John Layng passes away
- 1745- The Hamilton family have to forfeit the castle when Colonel George Hamilton, the very last owner, is hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason at Carlisle Castle
- 1755-Redhouse Castle is purchased by Lord Elibank after being vacant for some time
- 2013- The market garden reopens to allow visitors
Redhouse Castle facts
- The Layng family motto is carved into the pediment and it says, “Nisi Dominus Frustra”, translated from the Latin as “without the Lord, all is in vain”, taken from Psalm 127: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it”
- The castle designated as a scheduled monument
- Redhouse Castle is no longer protected as a category A listed building
- Nobody knows when this castle was actually built
- Redhouse Castle has also been known as Red Castle, Red Spittal, Redspittell, Reidspittal, Ridehous, Spittel, and Spittell
Who owns Redhouse Castle?
Nowadays, the building is held by the Earl of Wemyss who owns the neighbouring Gosford House as well. There is also a garden centre with a cafe by the ruin.
Unfortunately, Redhouse Castle is now permanently closed to the public. However, the Redhouse Nurseries and Tea Room are very close to the castle so you can gain a glimpse at the magnificent ruin when you’re visiting. Nearby, you can visit Arthur’s Seat, The Palace of Holyroodhouse, Gosford House, Dynamic Earth, Craigmillar Castle, and Tantallon Castle.