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They say that an Englishman’s home is his castle. The phrase might not have literal meaning for most Britons, but buying a castle is not as unusual as you might think. For history buffs or buyers with a romantic imagination, a range of castles are on the market in Britain with the majority in Scotland. A lot of these castles also come with substantial grounds containing parkland, forests or rivers full of fish.
The following castle homes are for sale or rent in Britain and are presented in order of the least to most expensive. Many of the castles have ancient foundations and all of them are steeped in history once belonging to knights, royalty, aristocracy or the occasional rock star.
By Bianca Schlotterbeck
Posted 28 March 2012
Price: £2,200 (USD $3,516) per calendar month
The Keep is a two level apartment, available to rent, that is set inside the historic Bamburgh castle and entered through a private door in its courtyard, with impressive views across the castle's defenses to the sea.
Situated on a rocky plateau high above the Northumbrian coastline, Bamburgh Castle has a rich and dramatic history and is the oldest castle in the list. Built in 547 AD, Anglo Saxon kings of Northumbria chose Bamburgh as their royal capital because of its formidable position. It was used by the Normans as an important border garrison to withstand attack from neighboring Scots and rebellious barons.
Price: £650,000 (USD $1.04 million)
Square Footage: 9230
Grounds: 10.65 acres
One of the older castle homes on this list, Colliston Castle was erected in 1545 on the grounds of a mansion house granted to John Guthrie and Isabella Ogilvy by Cardinal David Beaton of Arbroath Abbey in 1539. Set on more than 10 acres of gardens and woodland in keeping with its era, Colliston Castle has a number of period features. The original castle front door leads into a hallway with stone floor and barrel vaulted ceilings, the staircase has a brass hand rail, there are period fireplaces throughout, a priest hole and a turret with views overlooking the garden.
Price: £699,000 (USD $1.12 million)
Square Footage: 3185.7
Grounds: 6 acres
Houston House was a castle originally built by Sir Hugh de Paduinan (1140 - 1190) a Scottish-Norman baron, Knight Templar and progenitor of the Clan Houston in the 12th century. The Castle stayed in the ownership of the family until 1740. The First Statistical Account of Scotland (1791 -1799) describes the old castle at Houston as "very ancient, there was a large and very high tower on the North West corner.”
Houston House was divided and fully refurbished between 1995 and 1997, forming six unique and individual residences within the historic mansion house. The elegant West Wing is on three levels and besides modern facilities incorporates some interesting elements of the old castle, especially the corbelling of the battlements on the northeast side and in the interior of the West Wing.
Each residence benefits from joint ownership of the Great Hall which is situated in the main body of Houston House. The Great Hall includes many original features including an impressive grand entry hall, cornicing, stone archways, oak flooring and a fully operating period fireplace.
To the front of the property there is a small private garden; the West Wing shares the six-acre communal grounds, which are professionally maintained.
Price: £875,000 (USD $1.39 million)
Square Footage: 1669
Simpson Loan is part of the Quartermile redevelopment situated in the heart of Edinburgh, just a few minutes from the main shopping streets and Edinburgh Castle. The Quartermile was originally the site of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital built in 1879, which was redeveloped into contemporary apartments.
This apartment is built inside the original part of the Royal Infirmary’s Simpson Hall. There are many striking features to the apartment, most notably the areas occupying the turrets of the building, the balcony with south facing views of the meadows, and the double height, galleried living area.
Price: £1.45 million (USD $2.31 million)
Square Footage: 14,887
Grounds: 10 acres
Rothes Glen House was built in 1893 by the architect Alexander Ross of Inverness, for the Dunbar-Dunbar family whose substantial wealth was derived from a variety of business interests including brewing, shipping and banking. It is an example of the Scottish Baronial style of architecture and is characterized by a square, central, four-story tower rising one story above the roof line on its eastern façade.
Price: £1.45 million (USD $2.32 million)
Square Footage: 5,543
Grounds: 38 acres
The nucleus of Tyninghame House dates back to a 7th-century village that was sacked by Aulaf, the Danish King of Northumbria, in 941.
The Tyninghame estate, originally around 28,000 acres, was acquired in 1628 by Thomas, 1st Earl of Haddington, trusty servant of James VI of Scotland and I of England. The old house was enlarged by him and subsequent earls.
The present building was remodelled in 1829, the last year of the reign of King George IV, by the prolific and distinguished Scottish architect, William Burn (1789-1870). Tyninghame is nowadays celebrated as a key work in the development of the Scottish baronial style.
The house was sold in 1987 to be divided up by Kit Martin, using the Edinburgh architects, Simpson and Brown. The division was scrupulously carried out to create individual dwellings which were divided vertically rather than horizontally to retain as many rooms in their original format as possible.
The substantial four story West Wing contains the Haddingtons’ magnificent drawing room. This room is unique in Scotland, retaining its original Cowtan wallpaper from around 1830; the carpet, probably supplied by Whytock’s of Edinburgh; and a pair of neo-classical marble chimney pieces by the Florentine, Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1850). Colin McWilliam, in The Buildings of Scotland: Lothian (1987), wrote: “The main rooms, eclectic but perfectly assured, are the most beautiful of their time in Scotland.”
Price: GBP £1.99 million (USD $3.16 million)
Square Footage: 15,586
Grounds: 6 acres
Severn Stoke Bank is a Grade II listed — meaning it has been placed on the U.K.’s Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest — gothic-style castle, which dates back to the 19th century. Refurbished by the 8th Earl of Coventry in the late 18th and early 19th century, the Queen Mother is said to have stayed here during the war. It was finally sold by the Croome Estate in the early 1980's, reputedly as a consequence of a gambling debt. Set in six acres of formal gardens and parkland, it also contains stables and an indoor swimming pool, additional land of 16.25 acres including woodland and river frontage, is available by separate negotiation.
Price: £2.25 million (USD $3.59 million)
Grounds: 131 acres
Killochan Castle has a documented history dating back to 1324 when Robert The Bruce granted the lands of Killochan to the Cathcarts of Carleton. The Castle remained in the Cathcart family for the next 630 years, one of the lengthiest terms of ownership in one family for a Scottish residence.
The castle was built in 1338 as a four-story Tower House with impregnably thick walls. The entire Clan of the Cathcarts at one time were besieged within the vaulted ground floor. The Castle is designed to withstand any attack of the day. It has well-placed shot holes and gun loops facing in all directions from the turrets, and there is a machicolation over the front door through which boiling oil could be poured on tax inspectors, estate agents and other unwanted guests.
The castle also has a great number of secret passages and stairways built into the stone walls and behind paneling. The former morning room, now a bedroom, was known as the `Laird’s Lug’ as the Laird, having retired, could eavesdrop from behind the paneling and learn of plots to overthrow him. If the odds were too heavily stacked against him, he also had his escape route through a tunnel from the Saloon under the lawn.
The whopping 131 acres of grounds that come with this castle also contain 2.8 miles of salmon and sea trout fishing on the Girvan Water.
Price: £2.5 million (USD $3.99 million)
Square Footage: 13,476
Grounds: 45 acres
Myres Castle is set on a rise just outside the village of Auchtermuchty in north Fife with panoramic views from the battlements over the surrounding countryside. The castle is given total privacy by 45 acres of its own grounds with a high stone wall. Included in the grounds are an all-weather tennis court and a helicopter landing area.
There is no record of the exact building date of the original Myres Castle, but architectural historians consider it to be about 1530.
Price: £2,500,000 (USD $3,997,098)
Square Footage: 6826
Situated on Mount Boone, looking down onto the river The Keep is a slightly more modern property, built in 1856 on land originally owned by the Seale family. The family made it a condition that the house had to blend in with the castles found at the mouth of the River Dart, hence the tower and crenellations to the southern elevation. The house is listed as being of architectural or historical interest Grade II.
The Keep occupies one of the largest gardens in Dartmouth and over the years it has been beautifully landscaped to create a tranquil setting with an abundance of colour, set behind ancient stone walls.
Price: £3.5 million (USD $5.5 million)
Square Footage: 3751
Built on the estate where Henry VIII once had his hunting lodge, visited by Queen Victoria and lived in by a rock legend, The Tower is a home with many stories to tell. A Grade II listed building, it extends six floors with a roof garden at the top, allowing for views as far away as London from the east and the Chilterns to west.
The Ruxley Estate once belonged to Westminster Abbey, but after the dissolution of the monasteries it passed to Henry VIII, who would bring hunting parties from London out to the countryside. It passed to George Evelyn at the end of the 16th century; he was reputed to have introduced gunpowder to the UK. In the 18th century the castle was owned by England’s wealthiest man, William Beckford. In 1870, the Ruxley Estate was bought by Lord Foley, who built the Tower and West Wing for his wife, Lady Evelyne. Queen Victoria was reputed to have taken tea with her at The Tower.
More recently, the Tower has been used in the feature film "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner", and in 2009 was home to Rolling Stone Ron Wood.