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Lauriston Castle

Edinburgh, Scotland

Lauriston Castle was destroyed by the English in a 16th century war, but later rebuilt. Today it offers a rare glimpse into Edwardian life in a Scottish country house.

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- © Ian

The Medieval Lauriston Castle

Where today's Lauriston Castle now stands, overlooking the Firth of Forth, there used to be a medieval castle. In 1544 however it got caught up in the first major action of what would go on to become the War of the Rough Wooing.

A short while before this Henry VIII's England had broken with the Roman Catholic church, putting the country's old alliances at risk. The English king needed to secure new treaties.

Fortunately he had succeeded in getting the Scottish Regent to agree to marry the infant Mary Queen of Scots to his son, the future Edward VI. Less fortunately the Regent had now gone back on hs word. Henry would have to apply some pressure to force him to comply. Cue the War of the Rough Wooing.

In 1544, an English force attacked Edinburgh in a movement that is now known as the Burning of Edinburgh. Much of the city's infrastructure was destroyed, including the orginal Lauriston Castle.

The English were unable to bend the Scots to their will however. Eight years later they backed out of the conflict having achieved very little.

A New Lauriston Castle

In 1590, Sir Archibald Napier had the tower house rebuilt for his son, also Archibald. The younger Archibald was murdered in 1600 and it is unclear whether he ever lived in the new castle. One of his relatives, Alexander Napier, however, took up residence there, adopting the title 'Lord Laurieston'.

Amongst the castle's later inhabitants was John Law, an economist made famous by his radical policies. One such policy resulted in France's first central bank; another in mass inflation and riots. Law was a controversial figure to say the least.

In 1827, William Burn extended the house in Jacobean style around the original structure.

In 1902, it was acquired by William Reid who installed modern plumbing and electricity and filled it with fine furtniture and artworks. Reid then left it to Scotland on the condition that it be preserved unchanged. Thanks to this it today offers a rare glimpse into Edwardian life in a Scottish country house.

Visiting Lauriston Castle

Lauriston Castle's extensive grounds and gardens are open to the public free of charge and feature a Japanese garden and stunning views of the Firth of Forth. They are open from 8am-7.30pm daily.

Tours of the castle are available to book online in select time slots. A full price ticket costs £8 and a concessionary ticket costs £6.

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- © Antonio Ramos

Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Treasure Hunts in Edinburgh - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of Edinburgh.

Want to read more about castles in the UK and beyond? Check out our articles on York Castle, Manchester's Peckforton Castle and Dublin's Drimnagh Castle.