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Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle Scotland

Crathes Castle, 16th century tower house, well-known gardens, near Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Photographic Print of Crathes Castle from Robert Harding.

The castle, on which work began in 1553, was built as a tower house, a style that was common in northeast Scotland, and like other houses of the period it included fortifications. Some 40 years, and three generations, after building had started Alexander Burnett and his wife Katherine moved in. Alexander created much that has since taken its place in the heritage of Scotland. He ordered the painting of the ceilings, a striking and popular feature, and supervised the building of the magnificent turreted top storey, with its fine Long Gallery and unusual oak panelled ceiling.

Alexander's grandfather had already completed the splendid High Hall, a communal room full of fine furniture, which is still in use today. Thomas, the third baronet, had a wife who bore him 21 children in 23 years. Not surprisingly they decided to build a new wing to increase the accommodation. In the 18th century came the first mention of the ghost, the Green Lady of Crathes, and sightings have been reported ever since. Burnetts continued to live in the castle and a second wing was added in the 19th century.

The 13th baronet, Sir James, fought with distinction in both the Boer War and the First World War, reaching the rank of Major General. Tragically, both his sons died young and although his grandson became heir to the estate of Crathes, the title, which passes only
through the male line, went to Sir Alexander William Burnett Ramsay, who made his home in New South Wales. In 1952 Sir James decided to give Crathes Castle into the keeping of the National Trust for Scotland. However, the family continued to live in the castle
until 1966, when a fire destroyed both the Queen Anne and Victorian wings and the Burnetts were finally obliged to leave.

In addition to the castle, the other splendid attraction is the walled garden. This covers nearly four acres and dates from the early 17th century, when the first garden was laid out. The yew hedges, truly unforgettable examples of the precise art of topiary, were planted in
1702. Thereafter developments continued until in 1926 Sir James and his wife Sybil began the work that transformed Crathes into the beautiful and internationally renowned garden it is today. Crathes is an herbaceous garden with an enormous plant range. It also has many rare and unusual small trees and shrubs, and a glasshouse full of colour. The second and third floor bedrooms have colourful ceilings that were uncovered in 1877 after many years encrusted with plaster. The rooms are the Chamber of the Muses and the Green Lady's Room, the latter named after Crathes Castle's resident ghost.


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