Recently, we decided to head out on one of our explore and discover missions- this time to the Scottish Borders. There is so much to do in this part of Scotland. In fact, stay tuned for future posts on further adventures in the Borders. For this article, we outline our wonderful visit to Drumlanrig Castle.
It took us about an hour and a half to drive to the Castle from Edinburgh. It was a foggy day and the moody weather conditions just added to the Scottish ambience that has inspired so many writers over the centuries. For me, it creates the perfect exploring conditions as you literally don't know what's waiting for you around the winding corners and over each lush, green hill.
Once we reached the turn-off for Drumlanrig, and as we headed down the imposing tree-lined drive, I was thrilled when the Castle finally came into sight. With its distinct, rose hued bricks, Drumlanrig Castle is rightfully nicknamed the 'Pink Palace'. However, there is much more to this beautifully designed, historic building than just its lovely exterior.
Drumlanrig Castle is a fantastic location for those who love history, architecture, and nature. It's also a fun stop for Outlander fans as they filmed on location at the Castle. The construction of the Castle started in 1679 and took more than a decade to complete. To learn more about all of this it's necessary to book a guided tour (please note that only guided tours are offered). Unfortunately, due to insurance restrictions, photography is not allowed inside the Castle. Therefore, if you visit, I highly recommend getting the 'guidebook', Drumlanrig: The Castle, Its People and Its Paintings, once you are finished your tour. That way you have a photographic keepsake to help you remember all of the incredible rooms and items displayed throughout the house. And, let me tell you, there are some incredible artefacts on display at Drumlanrig.
For example, one of the most famous paintings in their collection is Rembrandt's An Old Woman Reading. I was quite disappointed that it was not on display during our visit as it had just returned from an exhibition and wasn't ready to be shown. I definitely plan to visit again so that I can examine this masterpiece in person.
Continuing on with the theme of art history, one fascinating story involves a stolen Leonardo da Vinci. As if straight out of a Hollywood movie plot, back in 2003, a da Vinci painting, Madonna of the Yarnwinder, was stolen from the Castle. Two thieves dressed as tourists held staff at knife point, took the painting off the wall, and climbed out a window. The painting was eventually recovered in 2007 and is now on loan here in Edinburgh in the Scottish National Gallery.
Two items that caught my attention in the Drawing Room were exquisite cabinets originally from Versailles and thought to have been made for Louis XIV. According to the Castle guidebook, both cabinets were made by André-Charles Boulle and the "woodwork marquetry contrasts with the dazzling metalwork". The larger of the two cabinets is especially spectacular and is supported at the base by Omphale and Hercules. It is decorated with fleur-de-lys and an inscription 'Le Roi Soleil' (The Sun King)- Louis XIV.
The Bonnie Prince Charlie room was also particularly interesting as there is a wooden money box that once belonged to him. The tour guide said that we were allowed to touch it, and it is said to bring good luck doing so....fingers crossed.
The grand oak staircase is quite dramatic, and the Staircase Hall is even grander as it is filled with Renaissance and post-Renaissance paintings. There is a real secret door that is famously used by Claire in an episode of Outlander.
One tip for visitors is to make sure you take the time to note the beautiful details located throughout the house and grounds. The winged heart family crest is one such example. It can be found on wallpaper, furniture, and even welded into wrought iron.
The exquisite gardens also invitingly beckon visitors to explore all there is to offer. Do make sure to take the time to thoroughly investigate the grounds.
I'm pleased to let you know that it is dog-friendly throughout (of course dogs cannot go in the Castle).
And it isn't just gardens that are part of the exterior. There are also a few shops that lease space there. One of our favourites was PureAlba. The shop sells a wonderful assortment of natural soaps, lotions, and body butters. I purchased the sweet orange body butter and absolutely love it! I highly recommend that you check out this shop if you want natural and sustainable products.
This article just skims the surface of what's on view. If you visit Scotland, you should stop by the Scottish Borders and head over to Drumlanrig Castle so that you can have your own full exploration. Make sure to check out their website for important visitor information. And, stayed tune for more of our upcoming posts on our adventures in the Borders.
Until next time- Explore & Discover!