Niddry Castle is a private residence. It was ruined until the mid-1980s when it was
partially restored. The restoration is
continuing with extensive external repair works being undertaken during the
course of 2009.
Niddry Castle will be open to the public from
29 August to 20 September 2009 and 26/27 September 2009 as follows:
Sat/Sun: 1.30p.m. to 4.30p.m.
Mon-Fri: 5.00p.m. to 6.00p.m.
Access to the interior will be
limited pending restoration.
Niddry Castle is a 15th century L plan tower
with imposing 10 foot (3m) thick walls.
At some point, believed to be in the mid 16th century, the castle was
extended upwards with the parapet and garret storey being built up into an
additional storey featuring fine dressed ashlar stone
and unique splayed dormer windows, in a similar approach to that at Preston Tower.
George, 3rd Lord of Seton began
the building of Niddry
Castle but was killed at Flodden in 1513 before its completion. George, 4th Lord Seton repaired and built a
great part of the house before his death in 1549.
Palace in East
Lothian was the principal seat of the Setons.
However, when the Earl of Hertford invaded Scotland in 1544, his army ‘came
and lay at Seton, burnt and destroyed the castle thereof, spoyled
the kirk, took away the bellis
and organis, and other tursible
thinges, and put them in their schippes,
and brynt the timber wark
within the said kirk.’
It is likely that the Seton
family may have used Niddry Castle
as its principal residence at that time.
George, 5th Lord Seton completed
the castle in 1567 and the following year, on 2 May 1568 Mary, Queen of Scots
stayed following her escape from Loch
Leven Castle. For his actions in aiding her escape, Lord
Seton was formally deprived of his lands and title by a decree of July
1568. Lord Seton returned to Scotland before 1572 and used Niddry as part of the supply route to Edinburgh Castle,
which was then held by Kirkcaldy of Grange, in the name of Mary, Queen of
Scots. Consequently in the same year Niddry was the
subject of two unsuccessful sieges by the forces of the Regent, the Early of
Morton. Seton survived the capture of Edinburgh castle and was
able to hold the wedding of his daughter Margaret to Claude Hamilton at Niddry castle on 4 August 1574.
were on the royalist side during the civil war and as a result lost their lands
and possessions. The English army was
quartered in and around Niddry Castle
on the night of 14 September 1650. The Setons regained their lands and titles following the
Restoration of 1660. In 1676 they sold Niddry
Castle and its lands to
John Hope. The Hope family lived at Niddry
Castle until 1702/3 when
they moved to Hopetoun House, although it was
completed until 1710.
The castle was described in 1720
as ‘a large tower with low buildings joined to it and convenient office houses,
surrounded with large parks, and a stately avenue from the East, all well
is situated in a quiet and open location, right opposite the village of Winchburgh and flanked by a
golf course. It is now privately owned and not open to
the public but one can get a good view by walking all around the building. Niddry Castle was the property of Lord Seton, who came to
meet Mary on the other side of the water when she escaped from Lochleven
Island with the
assistance of George and Willie Douglas. Having crossed the Forth at Queensferry, it is here that on the 2nd of May 1568, she
gave instructions for the raising of her adherents and then rapidly moved on to
Cadzow Castle in Lanarkshire, pausing at Craignethan Castle along the way.
Gardening featured strongly
amongst the Setons. The historian of the family says,
‘the second lord built the haill place of Wintoun, with the yard and gardens thereof,’ and he
describes quaintly its ornamented gardens, the flower-plots of which were
surrounded by a hundred wooden towers or temples, surmounted by bells over-gilt
with gold.’ A charter of 1506 refers to
‘the orchart of Winchburgh’
and another of 1548 records ‘orchards, enclosed gardens within and outside,
protected by the defences (of the castle)’. The very high walls of the walled
John Reid, the author of an
early gardening book ‘The Scots Gard’ner’ published
in 1683 was born at Niddry
Castle and his father and grandfather
before him were gardeners at Niddry Castle.