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Scotland’s most expensive private residence, complete with links to Mary María Estuardo, known in Scotland as Mary Queen of Scots, born in 1542, is for sale. For those who have about $8,729,280 to spare you can take advantage of the unique opportunity to own Seton Castle, which dropped $2 million in price since last fall. The fortunate buyer will enjoy over 800 years of Scottish history, including more than two centuries of royal dignitaries as guests and plenty of luxuries.
The grand castle sits just 13 miles east of the vibrant Edinburgh city center, across 13 ½ acres with exclusive gardens, lush lawns and paddocks. All surrounded by woodland and rolling fields along the renowned East Lothian golf coast, it serves as the quintessential renaissance retreat with every conceivable modern amenity as the ultimate fantasy come to life.
Historic character abounds, with the castle built by acclaimed designer and architect Robert Adam in 1789. The stone from Seton Palace, which was demolished before it was rebuilt at
Seton Castle, was used, once described as Mary Queen of Scots favorite retreat who honeymooned there with her second husband Lord Darnley as well as having been visited by multiple kings from James IV to Charles II. In fact, it was constructed on the site of the palace, a historic seat of the Earls of Winton that was built in the 15th century by George Seton, 4th Earl of Winton.
Seton Palace had suffered from 75 years of neglect and was eventually demolished until Colonel Alexander Mackenzie commissioned Adam to build the castle in neo-classical style. It was that demolition which provided a readily accessible supply of stone for the new castle. While Mackenzie died in 1796, not long after it was completed, the Earl of Wemyss acquired the property and it stayed within the same family for more than two centuries, until 2003. It remained untouched for several years before owners, Stephen Leach and his family, purchased it in 2007 for a reported £5 million, or $10 million in today’s dollars, as Bloomberg notes. Leach told the publication that it was like a “time capsule,” totally “unmolested.”
The Jaw-Dropping Architectural Details
Seton is considered to be the finest achievement in Adams’ career. His masterful touch can be seen in the beautiful curved oak paneled doors, stunningly executed ceiling plasterwork and the dramatic bay windowed rooms. There are multiple turrets, hidden doors, secret nooks and staircases, that add even more allure to the sophistication of the design.
Some of the other highlights include the fireplaces, which are also Adam originals, and as Leach says, worth “more than the average two-bedroom flat.”
The Castle Today
Today this majestic castle, now described as a “lavish 13-bedroom family home,” stands exquisitely renovated. The old stone is brilliantly showcased with elegant, carefully selected textiles and an extraordinary level of finish designed to suit modern living while still paying homage to the architect/designer and his craftsmen.
All ironwork and ceilings were restored to their original glory, the sweeping staircase brought back to life, and all services renewed. French oak replaced the pine flooring, while security and entertainment systems were installed along with state-of-the-art central heating, discreetly placed, of course.
Other impressive features include a huge kitchen with a large double AGA, lots of windows for natural light, smart appliances and more storage than you could ever dream up. There’s also an opulent silk-lined dining room, a traditional old-world bar, a 10,000-bottle wine cellar, library, extensive billiard room and a cinema, among others that sit within the more than 18,000-square-foot interior. Plush velvets, rich silks and Scottish wools can be seen throughout, all sourced from some of the world’s top designers.
A helipad is included as well for those who want to arrive home quickly and in style.
In addition to the seven bedrooms in the castle/home itself, there are three separate properties across the estate that provide the other six for a total of 13. Each one is a self-contained cottage or suite: The Hideaway, The Bothwell and The Darnley. The latter two are the cottages which come with a kitchen, living room, three bedrooms and a bathroom, while the former is especially romantic, a suite hidden at the top of a turret spiral staircase.
According to a news release by estate agency Savills, the 13-acre grounds “more than match the scale and grandeur of the castle.” There’s a secure gate and long, exaggerated driveway that hints at what’s to come, a 500-year-old carriage bridge, grassy lawns, entirely secluded dining space, parkland and lush wildflower meadows. You’ll also find working stables, all impressively refurbished which include a foaling stable. Next to the stables is the Stable Bar, a private, authentic tavern located in the original tack room of the stable block, along with a generously sized coach house.
In the release, Jamie Macnab, head of Savills Edinburgh’s country house team, remarked that the castle is “simply one of Scotland’s most significant and ravishing buildings,” while still managing to be a “wonderfully comfortable and welcoming home,” thanks to the recent owners’ investment and dedication. That may be an understatement – something you’ll have to determine for yourself after making your way up its enticing driveway. ■