Featured image for Melville Castle

A Gothic Mansion-Melville Castle

Melville Castle is a lovely three-storey castellated mansion situated around a mile west southwest of Dalkeith, Midlothian, near the North Esk. The property took its name from a Norman baron named de Malavilla back in the 12th century. For a long while, the castle was held by the Melville family.

The history of Melville Castle

The history of Melville Castle is only short. However, there are a lot of stories behind this castle just waiting to be told. People who have been to the castle say that they have seen the apparition of a woman who walks through walls and doors.

The early history

There was once an earlier tower house that was demolished when the present structure was built somewhere between 1786 and 1791 by James Playfair for Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville. The very original tower house was owned by the Melville family before it passed to Sir John Ross in the 14th century.

The castle then changed hands many times until the owners listed Melville Castle for sale. It was then sold to David Rannie in 1705. From there, it passed to Henry Dundas after his marriage to the daughter of David Rannie, Elizabeth Rannie.

Melville Castle lighting at night
Melville Castle features some amazing lighting at night time. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Changes at Melville Castle

Until after the Second World War, Melville Castle was owned by the Dundas family. It was around the same time that the ninth Lord Melville moved to a smaller house on the estate which means that the castle was leased as an army rehabilitation centre.

Later, the castle was used as a hotel. However, by the end of the 1980s, the Melville Castle Hotel fell into disrepair and remained unoccupied. By the time the late 1980s came around, the estate and adjoining farms were sold. However, they remained closed.

The present day

In 1993, Melville Castle was purchased by the Hay Trust. This trust then went forth and extensively restored the castle over a period of eight years. In 2003, the castle’s hotel reopened while being leased by Aurora Hotels until their lease expired in January of 2012.

Today, the castle is still open as a hotel and venue for weddings. It remains under the ownership of the Hay Trust.

You may also be interested in other Scottish castles such as Torwood Castle and Ackergill Castle.

Melville Castle during the day
The hotels lease expired in 2012. Source: Geograph.

Melville Castle Timeline

  • 1786 to 1791- An earlier tower house is demolished when the present structure is built
  • 14th century- The castle passes to Sir John Ross
  • 1705- The castle sells to David Rannie
  • 1980s- The Melville Castle Hotel falls into disrepair and remains unoccupied
  • Late 1980s- The estate and adjoining farms are sold
  • 1993- Melville Castle is purchased by the Hay Trust
  • 2003- The castle’s hotel reopens while being leased by Aurora Hotels
  • 2012- Aurora Hotels lease expires

Melville Castle facts

  • At one point, the castle was completely derelict to a point that it was almost lost forever
  • There are 33 bedrooms within the castle used for guest accommodation
  • The castle hosted Mary, Queen of Scots many times and was a favourite destination of hers
  • Sir Walter Scott was a frequent visitor to Melville Castle, and even nods the estate in his poem, “The Gray Brother”
  • The castle is surrounded by 54 manicured and woodland acres
Front of Melville Castle
The front of Melville Castle. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Who owns Melville Castle?

Melville Castle was purchased by the Hay Trust many years ago. Since then, it has undergone significant refurbishment, renovation, and restoration to get it to its current state. Nowadays, the castle still remains in the hands of the Hay family.

William Hay has passed the majority of the establishment duties to his son, David. David and his sister, Suzanne, now put the most work into the castle. However, it is still under family management.

Tourism

Melville Castle is a beautiful place to visit for the whole family. In fact, many who have visited state that it was one of the most family-friendly places they had ever visited.  Visitors can enjoy tranquil comfort and luxury within the historic castle. When staying at the castle, you can gain access to a restaurant, cellar bar, various country pursuits, and many activities.

Activities include clay shooting, horse riding, golfing, and falconry. There are also many local attractions nearby. Nearby, you can visit Rosslyn Chapel, Pentland Hills, Crichton Castle, Newhailes Estate, and Dalkeith Country Park.

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