Borthwick Castle – Scotland – Built in 1430
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THIS MAGNIFICENT 600-YEAR OLD CASTLE, KNOWN AS “SCOTLAND’S GREATEST KEEP”, IS A PHENOMENAL STRUCTURE CONSISTING OF SOME 30,000 TONS OF ASHLAR STONE, WHICH WAS QUARRIED IN THE LOCAL TOWN OF MIDDLETON.
Borthwick Castle was built in 1430 by Sir William de Borthwick, who was granted a royal charter by King James I of Scotland. Mary Queen of Scots stayed at the castle in June 1567, not long after her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell; Lord Darnley having been murdered in February of that year. The couple had not been at the castle long before word came out that Lord Morton and Lord Lennox were advancing on the castle with a thousand men, intending to take Bothwell by force so that he might be brought to a proper trial for Darnley’s murder. On hearing this, Bothwell left for Dunbar to raise an army, leaving Mary to face the insurgent lords. She refused to let Bothwell be incriminated and told the army surrounding the castle that he had left. While they were re-appraising the situation, she escaped through a narrow window in the Great Hall, disguised as a page boy and rode off from Borthwick Church to rejoin Bothwell.
The Great Hall has a 40 foot vaulted ceiling. Above this there is a second chamber of almost the same height with a rounded vault, which is currently divided into two levels. The walls were hung with tapestries and the ceiling was painted with frescoes. One can still make out the phrase ‘ye tempil of honour’ on the west side, although on the east the phrase ‘ye tempil of religion’ is now indecipherable.
Inside Borthwick Castle
WALK THROUGH THE ARCHED STONE GATEWAY OF BORTHWICK CASTLE AND ENTER A HIDDEN WORLD OF LUXURY AND MAJESTIC STYLE, STEEPED IN 600 YEARS OF DRAMATIC SCOTTISH HISTORY.
The interiors of Borthwick Castle are spectacular. The renovation project has carefully preserved and enhanced this ancient building’s fine architectural detail, whilst lavishing each room with a luxurious and comfortable interior finish. There are three main public spaces for guests to enjoy – each distinctive and on a different floor of the main keep, with secret doors and staircases leading to other floors and bedchambers.
The Great Hall
THE GROUND FLOOR ‘GREAT HALL’ IS AT HEART OF THE CASTLE AND CAN BE USED FOR FEASTS, BANQUETS AND PARTIES – OVERLOOKED BY A TRADITIONAL MINSTREL’S GALLERY FOR MUSICIANS.
THE TOP FLOOR ‘GARRISON’ IS A MORE INTIMATE EVENT SPACE, PERFECT FOR COCKTAIL RECEPTIONS, CEREMONIES AND DANCES.
The State Room
THE WARM ‘STATE ROOM’ IS FOR THOSE SEEKING A MOMENT OF RELAXATION OR A COFFEE AND A DRAM IN FRONT OF A ROARING FIRE.
Borthwick Castle’s Bedrooms
TODAY BORTHWICK CASTLE OFFERS TRANQUILLITY, OPULENCE AND A QUINTESSENTIAL SCOTTISH CASTLE EXPERIENCE. IT HAS BEEN LOVINGLY AND SUPERBLY REFURBISHED, RETAINING EVERY BIT OF ITS MEDIEVAL GRANDEUR AND ATMOSPHERE, BUT NOW WITH THE MODERN COMFORTS OF A SUMPTUOUS HOME FROM HOME.
There are 10 uniquely designed bedchambers with lavish bathrooms, magnificent yet intimate dining and lounge areas, roaring fires, breath-taking views and spiral staircases, inviting exploration and adventure. Each of the castle’s unique bedchambers has been exquisitely refurbished, designed to show off the historic detail, but ensuring the most luxurious experience for guests. The rooms are scattered throughout the castle and mostly are named after the historic figures with connections to the property.
Mary Queen of Scots
HISTORY SUGGESTS THAT LORD BORTHWICK’S MAID LIVED IN THIS ROOM AFTER SHE BORE HIS ILLEGITIMATE SON.
This is one of the most famous rooms in the castle and it certainly lives up to its regal name with a three metre canopy bed, which is from the Stuart era, inspired by the original royal bed (currently on display at Holyrood Palace). This room also has outstanding views from two seating alcoves and doors, which would have allowed Mary to reach her private chapel.
Earl of Bothwell
SITUATED IN THE NORTH TOWER AND WITH ACCESS TO THE STATE ROOM, THIS IS THE ONLY BEDCHAMBER IN THE CASTLE TO FEATURE A FULL FOUR POSTER BED, WHICH IS A SOLID OAK REPLICA OF KING JAMES IV OF SCOTLAND’S ORIGINAL BED.
The majestic room features dark blue and gold tones alongside a very large Medieval chimney breast and log burner. It also includes a lounge sofa which can be used as a second bed if required.
LIKE ITS NAMESAKE, THIS ROOM EMBODIES ITS NOBLE TITLE AS ONE OF THE LARGEST AND GRANDEST ROOMS IN THE CASTLE.
A masculine atmosphere pervades, featuring blue tones throughout and a magnificent oak carved bed with the Borthwick crest at its center. Mulberry woolen plaids and the finest feather top down quilt ensure guests will sleep like a lord. This room sits at the base of the south spiral staircase with access to the Great Hall.
MID-WAY UP THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE IN THE SOUTH TOWER AND LEADING TO THE STATE ROOM THROUGH A PRIVATE DOOR LIES A BEDCHAMBER FIT FOR A QUEEN.
In a slightly later era, it is where the Borthwick family chancellor kept his gold. The room is styled to a more feminine taste and features an antique modesty screen and rich velvet drapes over the Renaissance style, free-standing bath. There is also an inset for bullion, which remains in the stone wall to this day. Exquisitely decorated with rich linens and a red rose theme.
BENEATH THE GREAT HALL AND A VERY QUIET WINDING STAIRCASE LIES THE SENSUAL OLIVER CROMWELL ROOM.
The room features an exact copy of Oliver Cromwell’s bed, complete with his coat of arms hand carved into the finest oak. This room includes a free standing bath at the foot of the bed and a fascinating defense window in the castle’s stonework.
Sir Walter Scott
INSPIRED BY SCOTLAND’S GREAT WRITER WHO VISITED AND WROTE ABOUT BORTHWICK, THIS IS A POETIC, ROMANTIC AND RESTFUL ROOM.
The space features purple and blue earthy hues and a subtle nod to his passion for hunting, with lots of wildlife creatures detailed in the styling of the room and a lovely view of The Pentland Hills. The small bathroom door opens to a luxurious and bespoke wet room set within the castle wall.
THE TALLEST AUTHENTIC VAULTED STONE CEILING IN THE CASTLE AT THE VERY TOP OF THE SOUTH TOWER IS ELEGANTLY DECORATED IN LIGHT TURQUOISE.
The centrepiece of the room is undoubtedly the magnificent painting hanging below the vaulted ceiling. Paolo Uccello’s ‘Battle of San Romano’ (1430) is a very early example of perspective in Renaissance art. The room is delicately decorated with references to wild and magical birds, giving the room a more contemporary feel. The bathroom is a smart ensuite shower room with views over The Middleton Burn.
SITUATED NEAR THE TOP OF THE NORTH TOWER AND LEVEL WITH THE GARRISON, THIS IS A VERY SPACIOUS TWIN BEDCHAMBER WITH A DAYBED.
The large windows provide lots of natural light and stunning views onto The Pentland Hills. Sliding oak doors open onto an arched ceiling bathroom alcove with a wet room shower.
THIS IS THE HIGHEST AND MOST PRIVATE BED CHAMBER IN THE CASTLE.
Featuring a low vaulted stone ceiling from which a crystal chandelier hangs, the ambiance of this room is truly Medieval and mystical, with beautiful red fabrics and a woodstove providing sumptuous comfort. The room can only be accessed by the newly re-opened secret staircase.
THE SECOND LUXURIOUS TWIN ROOM OF THE CASTLE, AND WARMED BY A WOOD BURNING STOVE, THE ADINSTON IS EXTREMELY LIGHT AND SPACIOUS, THANKS TO TWO TAPERED ALCOVES.
It is the only bedchamber to feature a red carpet on the lead up to the entrance. A secret staircase continues directly from Bothwell’s Room, as this is where his page is thought to have stayed.
OFFERING LUXURIOUS ACCOMMODATION, COMPARABLE TO THAT OF THE CASTLE, IN YOUR OWN PRIVATE QUARTERS.
In 2016 The Gatehouse underwent an extensive interior makeover, wholly in keeping with the castle’s authentic history, and is now a decadent suite with log burner, plus Italian marble roll-top bath amongst other features. At its center lies a formidable replica of the four-poster marital bed of King Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, which was originally created in 1486.
THE DELIGHTFUL CROOKSTON COTTAGE STANDS IN THE GROUNDS OF THE CASTLE AND SERVES AS PERFECT OVERFLOW ACCOMMODATION FOR PARTIES STAYING AT THE CASTLE; A LITTLE HOME-AWAY-FROM-HOME.
Lovingly restored and finished in the same style as the castle, the cottage features one double and one twin room (with hand-carved bunkbeds) and an ensuite bathroom – the perfect space for families and small groups of friends.
Weddings at Borthwick Castle
NESTLED IN ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL RURAL SETTINGS IN SCOTLAND AND SURROUNDED BY ROLLING COUNTRYSIDE, MAJESTIC BORTHWICK CASTLE PROVIDES THE PERFECT SETTING FOR CREATING A MAGICAL WEDDING.
Whether plans are for decadence and grandeur or simplicity and intimacy, the expert team at Borthwick can cater for any request to create a truly bespoke and memorable experience. The possibilities are endless given the flexibility of the historic and opulent indoor castle space and the picturesque surrounding grounds – so the look, feel and structure of the day can be entirely tailored to each couple’s brief.
Religious or civil ceremonies/civil partnerships, can be staged in the top floor ‘Garrison’ or one of the many atmospheric spots throughout the castle. The team can also assist with booking local Borthwick Church for a service prior to a reception at the castle.
Wedding celebrations are custom-designed for Borthwick guests – from an exquisite, seated, Borthwick banquet to a relaxed summer barbecue with cocktails in the gardens. Those who wish to continue the celebrations into the small hours can do so with a ceilidh or made-to-measure party – or guests can simply enjoy a dram by one of the castle’s roaring fires, before retreating to their luxurious bedchambers to relax in the most indulgent surroundings.
With over 25 years of experience in organizing the most important day in a couple’s lives, the Borthwick Castle team has the skills and expertise to deliver to the very highest standards – ensuring that a Borthwick wedding is a wonderful and unforgettable experience.
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