|Copyright Francis Frith
Blair Castle, one of Scotland’s oldest continuously occupied estates, is for sale through Savills. Set in 1,500 acres near Dalry, Ayrshire, it has been the home of the Blair family since 1105. The current owner, Luke Borwick, a descendant of the founding family, endeavored – a la Monarch of the Glen – to maintain the estate with golfing weekends, weddings, advertising shoots and other commercial activities. During its long history, Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce have enjoyed hospitality at the castle, which is now to be sold along with its contents.
In addition to the 16 bedroom house, the 670 acre grounds include 12 cottages, salmon fishing and woodlands. From the Savills listing description: “Blairquhan Castle lies at the heart of the estate, overlooking the Water of Girvan which flows for over 3½ miles along the northern boundary of the estate. It is rare to find an estate which affords such privacy. About 670 acres in all, the estate also has 12 further estate properties, a walled garden with glasshouse, ice house, outstanding woodlands, farmland, a Purdey Award winning low ground shoot, roe stalking, trout fishing, and salmon and sea trout fishing. Lord Cockburn, writing as he worked his way around the South Circuit of the Scottish Bench in September 1844, wrote about his stay at Blairquhan: `I rose early…and surveyed the beauties of Blairquhan. It deserves its usual praises. A most gentleman-like place rich in all sorts of attractions – of wood, lawn, river, gardens, hill, agriculture and pasture.'”
Also from the Savills site: “Approached by way of three drives, the principal route to the Castle, the three mile Long Approach, starts at the Ayr Lodge and runs alongside the Water of Girvan. The castle is first glimpsed through the trees on the approach. A key characteristic of the castle is the extent to which it has
been preserved as William Burn and Sir David Hunter Blair completed it in 1824. Certain improvements were warranted, since the castle had only one bathroom on the principal floor when it was originally built, with accommodation for 18 resident indoor servants. An ambitious refurbishment in 1970 won the Saltire Award and was followed by an ingenious conversion by the architect Michael Laird, which made use of the former servants’ rooms to provide a modern Estate Office.
“There are now 16 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and a driver’s overnight room. The castle has been extremely well maintained, with work including significant roof repairs, re-leading the main tower, and installation of new central heating boilers. Laid out over three floors, the accommodation is as shown in the accompanying photographs and on the layout plans. In all, there are over 70 rooms. Reception rooms include a saloon, two drawing rooms, a library and a dining room. In addition there are three kitchens, a library, a billiard room, picture galleries, a table tennis room, museums, stores and wine cellars.”
Whilst bits of British history hit the selling block daily, some as large or larger than Blair Castle, it’s always heart rending to read of these individual properties, their owners and their history. One can only hope that whomever purchases the Estate will preserve it to the same standards the family strove to achieve.
You will find more pictures and info about the Estate, it’s lodgings, gardens and history here. And all the sale details from property agent Savills website here. To read more about recently saved Scottish castles, click here.