Work­ing for the fu­ture

The sur­vival of this ma­jes­tic cas­tle is tes­ti­mony to a heroic cam­paign of restora­tion. John Goodall de­scribes the devel­op­ment of the build­ing and plans for the fu­ture

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Pho­to­graphs by the late Paul Barker

John Goodall looks at the heroic cam­paign of restora­tion at Thirlestane Cas­tle, Ber­wick­shire

There have been Mait­lands at Thirlestane since the mid 13th cen­tury. The fam­ily for­merly oc­cu­pied what is to­day a ruin about two miles from the present cas­tle at Old Thirlestane. This be­came the seat of the so-called Barony of Blyth, which was con­sti­tuted by char­ter in 1563/4. The foun­da­tion of Thirlestane Cas­tle fol­lowed some 30 years later at the hands of Sir John Mait­land. In the 1580s, he en­joyed a bril­liantly suc­cess­ful Court ca­reer and was ap­pointed to the of­fices of Sec­re­tary of State, Keeper of the Great Seal and Chan­cel­lor of Scot­land.

Sir John bought the Barony of Blyth from his fa­ther in 1581 and added to it, in 1586/7, an ad­ja­cent plot of land called Castle­hill. This was prob­a­bly the site of a 12th-cen­tury cas­tle and—more cer­tainly—the site of an ar­tillery fort built in 1548 by the Duke of Som­er­set (and de­mol­ished two years later). his in­ten­tion was al­most cer­tainly to cre­ate a new res­i­dence here and work to this was pre­sum­ably un­der way when, in 1590, he was cre­ated Lord Thirlestane at the Corona­tion of Anne of Den­mark as James VI’S queen.

Lord Thirlestane’s cas­tle forms the core of the present build­ing. It was laid out on a rec­tan­gu­lar plan with a drum tower at each cor­ner and a se­ries of smaller tur­rets ris­ing up the sides of the build­ing (Fig 1). In The Bor­der Tow­ers of Scot­land 2 (2014), Alastair Max­well-irv­ing points to a de­pic­tion of the build­ing on a 1590s map by T. Pont as ev­i­dence that it had con­i­cal roofs on the tow­ers and some kind of tower above the en­trance front. It was de­signed with ser­vices in a vaulted base­ment and with its prin­ci­pal apart­ments on the first floor.

Work to the new cas­tle was al­most cer­tainly com­pleted in 1593/4, when a new char­ter united all Lord Thirlestane’s pos­ses­sions and dig­ni­fied them as the free lord­ship, barony and re­gal­ity of Thirlestane. The cas­tle would be next trans­formed af­ter the parox­ysm of the Civil Wars in the 1670s by his grand­son, the earl and later Duke of Laud­erdale. Born in 1616, Laud­erdale was a for­mi­da­ble scholar and bib­lio­phile with par­tic­u­lar in­ter­ests in his­tory and the­ol­ogy.

Fig 1 above: The 1590s core of the cas­tle was a rec­tan­gu­lar block with drum tow­ers at each cor­ner. Fig 2 right: The cas­tle to­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.