Based in beautiful Roxburghshire in the southeast of Scotland is the ever so grand Floors Castle. Despite its name, the castle is actually an estate house, rather than a mighty fortress. Now a category A listed building, people from all over travel to explore this gorgeous castle.
The history of Floors Castle
The grounds of Floors Castle are listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, the national listing of significant gardens in Scotland. However, the castle is far more popular for being the largest inhabited house in all of Scotland. It remains a staple piece of Scottish architecture and has very few rivals in the UK.
The early history
The present castle we see today lacks all defensive capabilities. It was built in a period where private fortresses were completely redundant in lowland Scotland. In fact, there is a possibility that a tower house existed on the site.
These were typical of the Scottish Borders at this time. Up until the seventeenth century, the Anglo-Scottish borderlands, or “Marches”, were a lawless place in which reprisal attacks were extremely common. These attacks were often in the form of cattle rustling or murders that were carried out by gangs of Reivers.
The Duke of Roxburghe
In 1707, John, Earl of Roxburghe played a role in securing the Union of England and Scotland. He was then rewarded by being created the Duke of Roxburghe. He then quickly went forth and commissioned the Scottish architect, William Adam, father of Robert Adam, to completely design a beautiful mansion that incorporated the earlier tower house.
This was then built between 1721 and 1726. It comprised a plain block with beautiful towers at each corner with pavilions on either side that housed stables and kitchens.
Remodelling and rebuilding
Sometime in 1827, the 6th Duke commissioned the very fashionable architect, William Playfair, to remodel and rebuild the entire plan of the gorgeous Georgian mansion house that he had inherited. The result is one of the most iconic buildings in Scotland, with Playfair writing in 1838, ‘The Duke and Duchess are extremely cordial and much pleased with the alterations on their house and are quite resolved to do all I recommend inside as well as outside’.
In 1903, Duke Henry married an American heiress known as Mary Goelet.
The current day
The present form of Floors Castle that we see today is the direct result of William Playfair’s work. It is very similar in style to his buildings at Donaldson’s College in Edinburgh. The castle is well regarded as the largest inhabited house in Scotland and has been open to the public since 1977.
While it is a popular visitor attraction, it is, first and foremost, home to the Duke of Roxburghe and his beloved family.
The World of Peter Rabbit Nature Trail
At Floors Castle, Peter Rabbit makes quite the appearance. There is an entire nature trail dedicated to Peter Rabbit that leads families through the gardens and woodlands of the castle. Along the way, Peter Rabbit and his animal friends lead young explorers through a variety of challenges and activities, designed to be both educational and fun.
From garden games to vegetable planting, there’s plenty to see and do.
Floors Castle Timeline
- 1707- John, Earl of Roxburghe plays a role in securing the Union of England and Scotland and is rewarded by being created the Duke of Roxburghe
- 1721 to 1726- Floors Castle is built
- 1827- The 6th Duke commissions the very fashionable architect, William Playfair, to remodel and rebuild the entire plan of the gorgeous Georgian mansion house that he had inherited
- 1838- Playfair writes “The Duke and Duchess are extremely cordial and much pleased with the alterations on their house and are quite resolved to do all I recommend inside as well as outside’
- 1903- Duke Henry marries an American heiress known as Mary Goelet
- 1977- Floors Castle is opened to the public
Floors Castle facts
- Floors Castle wasn’t originally built as a fortress
- Floors Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the country
- Floors Castle and gardens have been classed as some of the finest in Scotland
- Queen Victoria went to an afternoon tea at Floors Castle in 1867
- Sir Walter Scott, who lived at Abbotsford not far from Floors Castle, was so impressed by the extensions on the castle that he described it as “a kingdom for Oberon and Titania to dwell in”
Featured in TV and film
- Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
- Treasure Hunt Episode: Scottish Borders (1988)
- Interceptor Episode: Borders (1989)
- Two Fat Ladies Episode: A Day at the Races (1999)
- Castle in the Country (2005)
- Million Dollar American Princesses Episode: Wedding of the Century (2015)
Books on Floors Castle
- Floors Castle Paperback by Robert Innes-Smith (1984)
Who owns Floors Castle?
Floors Castle is now in the hands of the Duke of Roxburghe and his beloved family. The official website says: “The Castle continues to be home to me and my family, and what you see is a constant evolution of the generations who have lived here over the years in the Castle and Gardens”.
The Duke and his family have put a lot of time and energy into the Floors Castle interior to ensure that it remains beautiful. They also work hard on the upkeep of the gardens to ensure that the grounds are kept in immaculate condition.
Floors Castle is open to the public between Easter and the end of September and at weekends in October with set opening times: 10.30 am to 5.00 pm. During the other parts of the year, you are able to visit the beautiful gardens that are open between November to March.
You will definitely want to add this lovely castle to your list.
The Floors Castle café is also open during these times to cater to all your needs. There you will find a delightful collection of beautiful giftware and you can also treat yourself to homemade produce. This castle is a magnificent example of Scottish Renaissance architecture and the archetypal fairy-tale castle.
Fans of gardening will love Floors Castle and gardens. The gardens spread over four acres filled with Victorian fruit and vegetables during the year. Nearby, you can visit Melrose Castle, Dryburgh Abbey, Kelso Abbey, and Mellerstain House.