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Mellerstain House: Stately Splendour in the Scottish Borders

This week we continue our commitment to keep our beloved Sawyer’s legacy alive by sharing another trip from last summer. Like Aberdour Castle, we were fortunate that Sawyer was able to teach our wee Walter just how to behave when visiting another beautiful historic Scottish site. So join us as we venture down to the Scottish Borders to the magnificent Mellerstain House and Gardens!



The Baillie family have lived at Mellerstain for centuries. They are now known as Baillie-Hamilton and it is still their family home. Mellerstain House certainly lives up to the idea of a ‘grand stately home’. This is, in part, thanks to the famous Scottish architects- William Adam and his son Robert (if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out our article on Culzean Castle which is another example of Robert Adam’s work).

 

William Adam started the building of Mellerstain in 1725 and built the two wings. From 1770-1778, Robert Adam expertly finished the house by linking the two wings together with a large central block thereby creating a “castle style” house. I find it quite interesting that Mellerstain House lets you compare the architectural styles of father and son. Let’s take a tour to further appreciate this grand home.

 

Tour of Mellerstain House


Pulling up the drive and into the front of Mellerstain House is an experience in itself as the castle-like exterior commands your immediate attention.



An important part of your visit to Mellerstain is to make sure to take your time so you don’t miss all the wonderful details found throughout the grounds and the house. For example, the lovely fountain or even the foundation stone.



Speaking of details, wait to you see inside the House! As you enter Mellerstain, you come into the Stone Hall.



We’ll first explore the main central block of the house that Robert Adam designed, starting in Lady Haddington’s Sitting Room. Mellerstain explains that it “is the first of Robert Adam’s ‘enfilade’ suite of six rooms, formally aligned with each other on the south front of the Robert Adam house; the enfilade enhancing the vista to the far end of the house.” As we tour the main block, you will see pictures from the various rooms that show the ‘enfilade’ and how the doorways of the rooms line up with each other.



One of my favourite rooms of Mellerstain House is the 18th century Library as it really showcases some of Robert Adam’s best work. For example, the ceiling is in its original colours from 1773 and depicts an oil painting of Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom, flanked by representations of ‘Teaching’ and ‘Learning’. Adam’s exquisite work continues along the panels above the bookshelves which are in plaster relief. I can only imagine how lovely it must have been to be able to curl up in one of those comfy-looking armchairs and read a book by the fireplace.



Another of Robert Adam’s grand rooms is The Music Room. The room was set up for a recent performance when we visited.



We now move on to The Drawing Room. If you look at the photos below, you can see Robert Adam’s ‘enfilade’ I mentioned earlier.



Next is The Small Drawing Room. Remember how I mentioned to take your time and pay attention to the details? One fine example is the Strasbourg faience turkey tureen pictured below by Paul Hannog which dates from c.1755.



The last of the suite of rooms is The Small Library. Our tour guide pointed out that this was once two small dressing rooms but was opened up in the early 1900s to create symmetry with the room at the far end of the enfilade.



We will now continue along the West Corridor to the foot of the Main Staircase and make our way up to the bedrooms. Be sure to admire all the lovely art peppered throughout this area of the house.



Here is a collage of the exquisite bedrooms at Mellerstain House:



The Great Gallery has some fascinating artefacts on display that span the centuries.



The last room we’ll visit in Mellerstain House is The Oval Hall which was designed by Robert Adam as the grand welcoming area.



The Grounds & Gardens

 

Much of what you see today of the gardens and grounds of Mellerstain are thanks to work done by the architect, Sir Reginald Blomfield in 1910. For example, he laid out the beautiful terrace gardens in the Italian style as well as enlarged and altered the lake. There grounds are quite expansive, so be sure to leave plenty of time to wander about and truly appreciate their splendour.

 


Both Sawyer and Walter had a wonderful time on their ‘explore and discover’ adventure! Walter even practised posing by himself for multiple angles in the way that Sawyer taught him.



However, Walter’s puppy energy took over his ability to sit still when he and Sawyer posed for pictures together. While Sawyer wasn’t particularly thrilled that their leads were attached together, it at least helped them to somewhat stay close to each other. Walter sure tried his best to move around, but trying to move Sawyer when he didn’t want to was like trying to move a stone wall.😂



 I know we're biased, but Sawyer really knew how to add to the magnificence of every place he visited. Looking at the various pictures of him in front of Mellerstain brings a smile to my face as he really was such a handsome boy who loved to travel around Scotland!



We worked up quite an appetite and thirst after our extensive explorations all over the house and grounds. Fortunately, Mellerstain has a lovely ‘Courtyard Café’ where you can get a bite to eat. They have seating both inside and in the courtyard- we chose the latter as we had Sawyer and Walter with us. The fact that it was a gloriously sunny day with beautiful surroundings only added to our lovely experience.



Well, that’s going to do it for this wee adventure. I’ve obviously just skimmed the surface, and there is so much more to see and learn about Mellerstain. Therefore, we highly recommend that, if you are in the Scottish Borders, you plan a visit to Mellerstain House and Gardens. Be sure to head over to their website to get the most up-to-date information.

 

Until next time- Explore & Discover!




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