In touch with the na­tion’s his­tory

This ancient prop­erty in Aberdeen­shire will pro­vide its new own­ers with a link to the very heart of mod­ern Bri­tish so­ci­ety

The Herald - Scotland's Homes - - News -

In keep­ing with the past in Aberdeen­shire

CAS­TLE liv­ing in the 21st cen­tury may not be as dar­ing and dan­ger­ous as it was in days of old but it is still an ex­cit­ing prospect. The thrill of know­ing your fam­ily home comes with its own fair share of his­tor­i­cal in­trigue and is con­nected to fa­mous fam­i­lies of the past is all part of the charm of Bal­begno Cas­tle in Kin­car­di­neshire. Bal­begno is the jewel in the crown of the Fasque Es­tate near Fet­ter­cairn, lo­cated roughly half­way between Dundee and Aberdeen on the east­ern fringe of the Grampian Moun­tains. Two of Bri­tain’s most pres­ti­gious fam­i­lies were in­volved in the es­tab­lish­ment and de­vel­op­ment of the Fasque Es­tate. The Ram­says of Bal­main owned the es­tate from the 15th cen­tury but their lav­ish ex­pen­di­ture on it proved their down­fall, and they sold it to the Glad­stone fam­ily in 1829. Leith-born John Glad­stone, a grain mer­chant in Liver­pool, made his for­tune trad­ing in corn and cot­ton and he be­came a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment between 1818 and 1827.

He was cre­ated a baronet by the Prime Min­is­ter, Sir Robert Peel, in 1846 and he died just a few years later. He is buried at St Andrew’s Epis­co­pal Chapel, a short dis­tance from Fasque House.

Sir John was sur­vived by his chil­dren in­clud­ing most no­tably, four-time Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter, Wil­liam Glad­stone. Although Wil­liam never stayed at Bal­begno, he loved the es­tate and vis­ited reg­u­larly, of­ten walk­ing the 15 miles from Ban­chory sta­tion in Dee­side to get there.

Cur­rent owner Charles Glad­stone, a great, great, great-grand­son of Wil­liam, in­her­ited Bal­begno sev­eral years ago and has lav­ished “much love and en­ergy” on the Ba­ro­nial­style build­ing and sur­round­ing grounds, which ex­tend to around 21 acres.

“The orig­i­nal cas­tle dates back to 1560, and with a beau­ti­fully pro­por­tioned Ge­or­gian wing added in the 18th cen­tury,” ex­plains Charles, who is well-known as the or­gan­iser (along­side his wife Caro­line, mu­si­cian and singer Cerys Matthews and record in­dus­try and arts con­sul­tant Steve Ab­bott) of The Good Life Ex­pe­ri­ence fes­ti­val in north Wales.

“It is a sen­sa­tional fam­ily home and the lo­ca­tion is per­fect – you feel like you are in the mid­dle of nowhere but in fact, you are close to two ma­jor cities, Aberdeen and Dundee.”

Set in ma­ture park­land in the south­ern part of the es­tate, a short dis­tance from the vil­lage of Fet­ter­cairn, the cas­tle in­cludes six stylish and com­fort­able bed­rooms and there is scope to de­velop fur­ther liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion within the orig­i­nal tower.

Taste­fully re­dec­o­rated in sub­tle, con­tem­po­rary colours with high qual­ity fur­ni­ture throughout, the main ac­com­mo­da­tion is ar­ranged across two floors and also in­cludes three re­cep­tion rooms.

The ex­ten­sive gar­dens in­clude a cro­quet lawn, beds of roses and other plants and shrubs, and sev­eral or­na­men­tal trees. Be­yond the gar­den lies park­land, which pro­vides a buf­fer between the cas­tle and the pub­lic road, per­fect for ex­plor­ing – look out for beech, ash and horse ch­est­nut trees and the won­der­ful 17th cen­tury doocot.

One of the most in­ter­est­ing rooms in the cas­tle is the spec­tac­u­lar Great Hall with its painted stone-carved vaulted ceil­ing de­pict­ing the Coats of Arms of the fam­i­lies of 13 Scot­tish Peers.

“There used to be 14 but there was

The plas­ter­work in this fan­tas­tic hall, which dates back to 1560, has all been re­stored us­ing yak hair

a fall­ing-out and one was erased,” laughs Charles. “This is a fan­tas­tic hall and the orig­i­nal plas­ter­work which dates back to 1560 has all been re­stored us­ing yak hair, be­lieve it or not – ap­par­ently, you don’t use horse­hair any more.

“We have tried to in­ject colour and light into the bed­rooms and re­cep­tion rooms, while stay­ing truth­ful to the his­tory of the house.”

Bal­begno Cas­tle is one lot of the Fasque Es­tate at Fet­ter­cairn, which is priced at £9.32m for the whole or split into 28 lots.

It is close to Fasque Lake, an eighthectare or­na­men­tal lake with three is­lands, a row­ing boat and co­pi­ous sup­plies of trout.

The di­verse sur­round­ing land­scape in­cludes op­por­tu­ni­ties for golf, field sports, walk­ing and cy­cling while the paths to three of Scot­land’s most east­erly Mun­ros – Ma­yar and Dreish at the head of Glen Clova, and Mount Keen on south Dee­side are within an hour’s drive of the es­tate.

De­spite its ru­ral lo­ca­tion, Bal­begno is close to good trans­port links in­clud­ing main­line rail con­nec­tions at Mon­trose and Stone­haven and mo­tor­way ac­cess via the A90.

The clos­est vil­lage shop, post of­fice and hotel lie at Fet­ter­cairn, or Fet­terie, as it is af­fec­tion­ately known lo­cally, which dates back over a thou­sand years.

The ma­jor­ity of the build­ings that ex­ist to­day have been built since 1645 when the vil­lage was sacked and burned by the Mar­quis of Mon­trose’s army.

“It’s been won­der­ful own­ing Bal­begno, as it is rooted in the lo­cal his­tory,” adds Charles.

“We will be sorry to see it go but we hope the new own­ers love it as much as we have.”

A SHIELD OF GREEN: Be­yond the gar­den lies park­land, which pro­vides a buf­fer between the cas­tle and the pub­lic road.

A TURN AROUND THE POLI­CIES: For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Wil­liam Glad­stone once owned the cas­tle, the cur­rent owner is a rel­a­tive.

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