We spent a lovely few hours at Kellie Castle & Gardens today.
It was really warm, the first gloriously hot day we’ve had for ages, so we spent quite a lot of time meandering around the gardens.
There are hundreds of varieties of flowers, shrubs, trees, fruit & veg.
The gardeners definitely have there work cut out for them, tending to all the beds, lawns, paths and little nooks & crannies.
We stopped halfway round for a picnic lunch and enjoyed basking in the sunshine for a while.
It was delightful.
There are so many interesting plants & beautiful spots that I can’t begin to choose a favourite!
There are lots of little spots to sit and enjoy the surroundings
and lots of little gems, hidden behind gates and hedges
Not to mention trees which are crying out for fairy doors to be fitted!
I don’t *think* this is the tree that the 5th Earl hid INSIDE for the entire summer of 1746, secretly being fed by his butler, whilst evading capture after the battle of Culloden; but it makes for a great tale!
Did i mention the chickens? there’s a little hen house in the garden and they roam around the paths…
You may remember me mentioning fruit and veg? Well, it’s all organically grown and some is used in the on-site tearoom whilst more is displayed for sale in a small summer house in one corner of the garden. There’s a price-list & an honesty box, and you can purchase freshly picked produce.
We came home with a bag of broad beans and some green & yellow courgettes.
Alongside the walled garden there is also a lovely sunny courtyard, where you can enjoy a spot of lunch or tea & cake. The stables afford a great exhibition space for local artists (today there was a chap who painted gorgeous watercolours of the surrounding landscapes, birds & fauna), alongside a permanent exhibit on the life & works of 20th century sculptor, Hew Lorimer, son of the famous Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer.
There was a castle at Kellie in the 12th Century, although the oldest part of the structure now standing dates from around 1360. It took us about that long to get around the gardens but, eventually, we did make it inside!
Hew and his wife, Mary, continued the Lorimer family’s lease of the castle for a number of years until the 1950s death of the then Earl, at which time his successor agreed to sell. It was then after Mary’s subsequent death in 1970 that the trust purchased the property, meaning that many of the furnishings are original to the house.
There are some delightful pieces to be found in the house, but a very strict (and utterly necessary, for the conservation of the items!) “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” policy is in place; so I’m afraid you’ll have to go visit and see for yourselves!
One new addition since our last visit is the opening of a room at the very top of one of the towers. it is laid out in keeping with a previous use as an artist’s studio and visitors climbing the spiral staircase all the way to the top are limited to four at a time because the structure of the floor is a little weak. This fact, of course, made the trip up the stair all the more exciting!
A few more things to especially look out for:
- The intricately painted 17th Century paneling in the dining room.
- A rather tetchy letter written to Professor James Lorimer by one of his young students ( a certain Robert Louis Stevenson) requesting he hurry up and dispatch his examination results.
- The ornate plaster ceiling in the Library is one of the oldest in Scotland.
- The bed canopy Mary created from a lace wedding veil/train, gorgeous golden yellow silk salvaged from a parachute and half a gilt edged mirror. (The woman sure knew how to up-cycle!)
- The recently discovered mural by the celebrated Arts & Crafts pioneer, Phoebe Anna Traquair.
- The doll in the nursery; whose face will forever haunt your dreams. Seriously.
Venturing back outdoors:
If you are ready for some more fresh air, there is a lovely woodland walk around Kellie Woods. There is plenty of wildlife to spot around the trees and pond, as well as an adventure playground.
There is also an amazing smell of wild garlic during summer months, whilst bats can be spotted later in the season.
If I have tempted you to make a visit, you can find the opening times & entrance fees here. It would also be remiss of me not to add that if you are going as a family and/or are planning to visit a few National Trust for Scotland sites, you would probably be better looking into a yearly NTS membership . You CAN also sign up for this at any manned site, so you could choose this option when you arrive somewhere! Not only do you help support the great work of the NTS with your regular payments, it is also cost effective; and you also receive a few perks like free parking and a quarterly magazine.
We are often to be found visiting historic sites, it’s one of my favourite things to do! Do you enjoy visiting these sorts of places? Please share in the comments!