Magnificent castle dating from 14th century
Ethie Castle is most attractively situated, about ½ mile from the Angus coast and about 1½ miles south of Lunan Bay, which is a renowned and award winning beach. The castle sits within its own policies, and is surrounded by farmland. The garden and courtyard walls, together with the wooded grounds which have been supplemented by more recent plantings, ensure that the castle enjoys privacy as well as having an attractive setting.
This part of the Angus coastline is mainly red sandstone with notable cliffs, rock features and sandy bays. As well as Lunan Bay, popular beaches are found at Montrose and St Cyrus. There is an attractive coastal walk from Lunan Bay to Arbroath via Auchmithie. Fishing has long been associated with the area, especially in Arbroath, famous for its smokies, Auchmithie and Usan. Salmon were netted at Lunan Bay and at other fishing stations along the coast. The surrounding countryside is rolling fertile farmland and there are Nature Reserves at Montrose Basin and St Cyrus. Salmon and sea trout fishing is available on the North and South Esks. There are golf courses at Montrose and Arbroath with the championship course at Carnoustie within easy driving distance. Gleneagles and St Andrews are also easily reached.
The nearby village of Inverkeilor provides primary schooling and Gordon's is a well known and award winning restaurant. Private schooling is found at Lathallan (Johnshaven) or the High School of Dundee, together with Robert Gordon's College, the Albyn and St Margaret's School for Girls in Aberdeen, with children travelling daily by train from Montrose and Arbroath. Other private schools include St Leonards in St Andrews, Glenalmond and Strathallan.
The much improved A92 links Dundee with Arbroath and on to Montrose and Stonehaven. The A90 provides access to Aberdeen and from Dundee links to Perth, Edinburgh and the south. Dundee and Aberdeen provide all the services expected of major centres. There are train stations at Montrose and Arbroath with regular services to Aberdeen and to the south, including a sleeper. Aberdeen Airport has a range of domestic and European flights and there are services from Dundee to London Stansted. Edinburgh Airport is also easily reached.
Ethie Castle is believed to date from the 14th century when a sandstone keep was built by the Abbot and monks of Arbroath Abbey.
After passing through the de Maxwell family, the lands reverted to the Abbey and the castle became the country residence of David Beaton, Abbot of Arbroath, who later became the Cardinal and Chancellor of Scotland. In about 1530, he remodelled the castle around a courtyard in order to entertain King James V. After Cardinal Beaton's infamous murder in St Andrews, it is reputed that the monks of Arbroath concealed their treasury of church vessels, plates and vestments in the walls of Ethie for safekeeping.
The castle was bought in 1565 by the Carnegie family, who later became Earls of Northesk. It remained with them until 1928. The 7th Earl was a Vice Admiral and commanded with Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. As a tribute, the Earl was entitled to incorporate Trafalgar in his arms and this can still be seen set in a dormer at Ethie. It was the Earl who modernised the castle to form a substantial country residence and much of his influence is still found at Ethie.
Sir Walter Scott, a friend of the 8th Earl, often stayed at Ethie. During one of his visits he wrote the novel The Antiquary, where Ethie is reputedly depicted as the legendary Castle of Knockwhinnock and the central character is based upon a neighbour during that period.
MacGibbon & Ross, in Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland (James Thin) originally published in 1887-92, indicates that The original castle thus became extended into a mansion built round a courtyard, with the main building on the south, the kitchen wing on the north, and the west side enclosed with a wall containing the entrance gateway. In later times the west wall has been raised and rooms built against it, the entrance being still preserved in the centre. Even these rooms appear to be ancient, from arms and carving on the stonework at the back. MacGibbon & Ross continue that not withstanding the many changes to which it has been subjected, Ethie yet retains a wonderful amount of genuine character of a Scottish mansion. Nigel Tranter in the Fortified House in Scotland (James Thin, 1986) describes the castle as the extensive and handsome mansion of Ethie... though no longer the home of the Northesk family is still occupied and carefully cherished in excellent order. John Gifford in the Buildings of Scotland, Dundee and Angus (Yale University Press 2012) describes Ethie as a large but low key manor house, its walling all of red sandstone. It has developed from the sixteenth to the late nineteenth century.
Ethie Castle is a most imposing and historic castle. In recent years the castle has been carefully restored. It has evolved over the centuries from its ancient beginnings and, with its wings and towers, forms a magnificent residence of great character. Its association with Cardinal Beaton is still evident as the castle includes a small chapel and the Cardinal's Sitting Room, with its secret staircase to the Great Hall above. Architecturally the castle contains many fine features including four turnpike staircases, a balustraded tower, turrets and crow stepped gables. The barrel vaulted rooms, together with panelled rooms, decorative plaster work, fireplaces and window shutters all provide an insight into the history associated with the castle.
The principal rooms at Ethie provide grandeur and elegance, whilst the everyday living quarters are comfortable and manageable. The accommodation is arranged over three principal floors. The front door gives access to two halls, which are given natural daylight by two small courtyards within the building, and which lead on to the billiard room and the dining room. Interlinking hallways lead to the Cardinal's Sitting Room and Chapel on one side, and to the kitchen, study, Tudor Sitting Room and the north wing annexe at the other. At first floor level further halls or landings provide access to the Great Hall, drawing room and principal bedroom, with further bedrooms arranged off a bedroom corridor. The second floor, or upper house, has the Blue Sitting Room and four bedrooms, including two in the north wing. There are further rooms above and in the main tower.
Within the last 12 years considerable improvements have been made, both within the castle and outside. The kitchen was refurbished in 2011 along with two bathrooms in the last eight years. The windows have been refurbished and the roof has been insulated and the house has been redecorated and carpeted. The castle has two kitchens. The vaulted kitchen, next to the dining room was completely re-fitted and refurbished in 2013/14 as was the master bedroom's en suite bathroom. Outside, the improvements are even more noticeable. The magnificent walled garden has been restored and the greenhouse refurbished. A further garden or parterre has been created next to the house, linked through new gates to the walled garden. Further landscaping has included the creation of a walk around the pond, paddocks have been re-fenced and a lime avenue, hedges and new woodland have been planted.
Previous owners used three bedrooms for bed and breakfast and gained 4 star accreditation. They also hosted weddings. Recently there have been paying guests and shooting parties from Europe. It is considered that there is further potential, if wanted, for such ventures.
The shared private driveway leads past the north of the property and continues to gates to the courtyard to the side. From the driveway a gravel drive leads to the front door, to the west of the house.
Double wooden front doors, with viewing slits, open to the entrance vestibule with stone flag floor and double doors opening to the entrance hall. This has stone walls and a stone flag floor and links to both the north and south hallways and to the Stone Hall. This separates the two inner courtyards and again has stone walls and floor, together with doors to the south courtyard and to the staircase hallway, from where are the main stairs lead to the first and second floors. It has two wall lights and connects to both the north hallway and to the inner hall which can be used for informal dining and has cornicing, panelling to dado level, window shutters, inner leaded windows, two wall lights and a picture light.
Off the inner hall are the billiard room and the dining room. The former, which was a library, has cornicing, window shutters, a fireplace with wooden mantel and stone and tiled surround, together with a fitted bookcase, three wall lights, shelved alcove and a walk in cupboard. The dining room is magnificent with its decorative plaster ceiling, panelling to dado level, window shutters, open stone fireplace with wooden mantel and overmantel and wooden flooring. In addition there are six wall lights, a shelved alcove and a door to a turnpike staircase (dining room staircase) to the first and second floors. Off the dining room is the vaulted kitchen. This has modern fitted units with wooden worktops with two fitted Electrolux dishwashers, sink, two fitted AEG ovens, a Miele steam oven, AEG fridge freezer and an island unit with a six ring Electrolux hob with extractor.
From the vaulted kitchen a lobby, with a safe, links to both the inner hall and to a stone vaulted cellar which leads to the Chapel. This also has a stone vaulted ceiling and a low door to the Cardinal's Sitting Room, which is another stone vaulted and most interesting room with a corner fireplace with wooden mantel and shelving, panelling to dado level with desk, wooden floor, wall light and a secret staircase which leads up to the Great Hall above. The Cardinal's Sitting Room is at the end of the south hallway which leads back to the entrance hall, and from where the Cardinal's Staircase leads up to the first and second floors. Off the south hallway is a useful cloakroom with cornice, corner fireplace with wood burning stove and wooden mantel, stone flag floor, washbasin and WC.
On the other side of the entrance hallway is the north hallway. This Iinks round to the annexe and has doors to the garden, inner courtyard and a turnpike stair (kitchen staircase) to the first and second floors. Off this hallway is a study with a corner fireplace with wooden mantel and brick surround, three wall lights, shelved alcove and cupboard and a wooden floor. A kitchen passageway with a stone flag floor and downlighters has a back door to the courtyard. Off this is a fully fitted kitchen with wooden wall and base units with wooden work surfaces, splashbacks and a Bosch dishwasher, porcelain sink, Stoves cooker (with seven gas burners, double oven/grill and slow oven), Rangemaster extractor hood, fitted fridge and freezer and a walk in circular store/larder. Next door is the laundry which has fitted work surfaces with two Belfast sinks together with plumbing for a washing machine and dryer, stone flag floor and a door through to the freezer room, again with stone flag flooring.
On the other side of the kitchen passageway is a small room, currently used as a bar, which links through to the Tudor Sitting Room. This is a double height room, which was originally a kitchen and was also previously used as a smaller dining room for guests. It has an impressive beamed ceiling and the an original vaulted fireplace, now housing a wood burning stove, stone flag floor, window shutters, display shelves, shelved cupboard and a door to the north hallway.
North Wing Annexe
Also accessed off the north hallway is the north wing annexe, which has its own entrance door from the main courtyard to the side. This makes ideal staff accommodation, if required, or could be let, or incorporated into the main body of the castle. Arranged off the annexe hallway are a shelved storage cupboard, a sitting room, a kitchen and a bathroom which is partially tiled and has a bath with shower, washbasin and WC. The kitchen is fitted with wall and base units with a sink, electric cooker point, plumbing for washing machine and a shelved cupboard. The sitting room has a high beamed ceiling, wooden panelling to dado level and a fireplace with a wood burning stove, wooden mantel, tiled surround and mirrored overmantel. Upstairs are two bedrooms with fireplaces.
The main spiral stairs lead up from the staircase hallway. Part way up these stairs is a partially tiled WC. The imposing first floor landing has a plaster ceiling, cornice and wooden floor and links to the master bedroom suite, the drawing room and an inner landing. The master bedroom has a cornice, window shutters, grey marble fireplace and wooden flooring, whilst the en suite bathroom has a bath, shower, washbasin and WC.
The drawing room is a very fine room with panelling and decorative plaster ceiling, window shutters, wooden floor and a fireplace with wooden mantel and tiled and marble surround. In the corner a door opens to the turnpike stairs which lead down to the dining room and on up to the Blue Sitting Room. Next to the drawing room is the Great Hall. This is another very fine panelled room with a plaster ceiling, window shutters and two fireplaces at either end of the room; one has a sandstone surround and original mirrored slips above, whilst the other has a raised grate and stone surround. The panelled walls conceal the secret stairs which lead down to the Cardinal's Sitting Room. These two interconnecting rooms, with adjoining landings, are ideal for entertaining. The inner landing has cornicing, fireplace with wooden mantel, two cupboards and a door to the Cardinal's Staircase which leads up to the second floor and down to the south hallway. A further door opens to the bedroom passageway, which has two wall lights and a skylight.
Arranged off this passageway, which connects to the north or kitchen staircase, are four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Bedroom 2 is currently used as a store room and has window shutters and a washbasin. Bedroom 3 (Earl of Wigtoun) has a cornice, window shutters, cast iron fireplace with stone surround and wooden mantel, and interconnecting doors to bedroom 4 and to an en suite bathroom, which also has a door to the landing, together with window shutters, downlighters, free standing bath, washbasin, fitted shower cubicle and WC. Bedroom 4 has cornicing, cast iron fireplace with stone surround and wooden mantel and overmantel, together with window shutters and a walk in turret dressing room with fitted cupboard. Bedroom 5 (Admiral Nelson) has a corner fireplace with stone surround and wooden mantel, washbasin and shaver point. Next to this is Bathroom 3 which is tiled with a bath with shower, washbasin, WC and shelved cupboard.
The north or kitchen staircase continues up to bedrooms 6 and 7, which are currently used for storage. Both have fireplaces and cupboards whilst bedroom 6 also has a door to a turret room. Above these rooms the stairs continue up to a former maid's room at third floor level.
The main staircase leads up to the second floor landing, and on up to a second former maid's room at third floor level, with fireplace with wooden mantel and overmantel and shelved cupboard. Arranged off the second floor landing are two bedrooms, a WC and the Blue Sitting Room. Bedroom 8 (Baron of Cumbernauld) is another lovely panelled room with plaster ceiling, stone fireplace with wooden mantel and tiled slips, and window shutters. The WC is partially tiled. Bedroom 9 (Cardinal Beaton) overlooks the garden and has cornicing, a stone fireplace and window shutters. The Blue Sitting Room is a charming room with panelled walls and period wall coverings, ornate plaster ceiling, stone fireplace with wooden mantel and tiled slips, and window shutters. A door opens to the spiral staircase which leads down to the drawing room below and on down to the dining room. It also continues up to a third former maid's bedroom, at third floor level, with fireplace and cupboard.
An inner landing at second floor level which leads through to the Cardinal's Staircase, has a walk in understair cupboard, and stairs which lead up to third floor level (Crow's Nest) with a playroom and bedroom 10 with beamed and coombed ceilings, and a fireplace with raised grate in the bedroom. Also off the second floor inner landing are a partially tiled shower room with shower cubicle, washbasin, WC and shaver point, and a pantry with sink. Off the Cardinal's Staircase is a games room. This had previously been divided into three bedrooms, but is now restored to its original proportions with two fireplaces with wooden mantels and a coombed ceiling. It has been proposed that this room be converted to a library. A further door from the Cardinal's Staircase leads to a narrow spiral stair which leads up to a dark room (at fourth floor level) with sliding window shutters, two sinks and cupboard. These stairs continue up to a water tank room and on to the top of the tower.
To the side of the castle is a large enclosed gravelled courtyard, with doors to the driveway and garden. Around this are a range of stone built outbuildings including a store with concrete floor, WC with stone flag floor, workshop with wooden work bench, bike shed with concrete floor, two further stores (one with a shot hole), log store and coal shed. Outside the courtyard are stone mounting blocks.
Gardens & Grounds
Lying to the east of the castle and sheltered by the wall to the north is an imaginative area of garden. This has been laid out in recent years as a parterre, with herbaceous and mixed borders, edged with box hedges, around a central fountain. Overlooking this is a hexagonal wooden summer house. To the south is a small octagonal stone built folly (2.85 m x 2.85 m) dating from 1907.
Beyond is the walled garden, accessed through magnificent wrought iron gates. The garden has been restored in recent years, and is very much a productive working garden with a fruit cage, together with herb and vegetable borders. The restored principal greenhouse (18 m x 4 m) is divided into two and houses a productive vine, whilst attached to the rear is a potting shed (2.95 m x 10.6 m). Adjacent is a further greenhouse (2.4 m x 7.25 m) with a raised planter.
In the corner of the walled garden is an all weather tennis court, together with an outdoor and heated D ended swimming pool (10 m x 5 m) and a timber built pavilion with a slate roof, covered seating area with decking, changing room (3.3 m x 2.2 m), WC with washbasin, shower room and plant room (2.6 m x 2.2 m).
In the other corner of the walled garden is a stone built bothy (6.5 m x 7.4 m) with a slate roof, concrete floor and arched entrance doors. This is used for storage and has outside steps to a floored loft.
Just outside the garden is a modern range of timber built outbuildings, with a slate roof and concrete floor and apron and including two garages (5.75 m x 2.79 m), two further garages (5.75 m x 2.98 m), open fronted tractor shed (5.98 m x 5.85 m), store (4.73 m x 3.53 m) and wood store (4.74 m x 1.76 m).
The land is divided into three paddocks with a wooden field shelter (3.43 m x 6.03 m) with concrete floor and apron. Beyond is a pond around which is a woodland walk, over a small stone bridge, in similar style to the folly and dating from 1904, together with a wooden tree house. Further areas of woodland have been planted, together with azaleas and rhododendrons.
A Bio Flame 85Kw biomass boiler has recently been installed at Ethie Castle. We are advised that this cost in the region of £150,000 to install and that the RHI anticipated income over the next 20 years is £430,000. New radiators have been fitted throughout the castle and it is anticipated to extend this into the north wing annexe and to the swimming pool, where there are now 20 ground mounted solar panels to supply electricity.
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12 Clerk Street
+44 (0) 1356 628 628
12 Clerk Street
+44 (0) 1356 628 628