Thursday, 21 November 2013

Castle Fraser (2)

Castle Fraser is one of the last and certainly one of the greatest Scottish tower -houses. But compared with the exuberance of the turrets and towers of its' elevations which are Castle Fraser's chief glory, the interior is rather a disappointment. The lower and older parts of the building (late sixteenth century) are medieval in character and show the builder's reluctance to break with the past. There is even a small room concealed in the groin of the great halls's vaulting , reached only through a trapdoor in the floor of the laird's bedroom above, which enabled him to hear every word spoken in the window seat of the hall. There is none of the splendid plaster-work and paneling found at nearby and contemporary Craigievar. Presumably there never had been, otherwise the tower's later inhabitants would surely have preserved it as lovingly as they had the exterior.

The last of the male Frasers who had built the house, Charles Fraser was killed fighting for Charles Edward Stuart at Culloden and the property passed to his maiden sister, Elysa Fraser who held it until 1814. It was she and her immediate successors who reconfigured and redecorated the upper stories to make the house more habitable.

 The Worked Room is named after the eighteenth century needlework bed hangings, curtains and seat furniture said to have been made by Elyza Fraser and her companion Mary Bristow. The door frame is seventeenth century.

 The National Trust for Scotland decorated the tower rooms of the fifth and sixth floors as a tribute to Major and Mrs Smiley who donated Castle Fraser to the Trust in 1976. Lavinia Smiley was the grandaughter of  Viscount Cowdray who had bought Castle Fraser in 1921 for her father the Hon. Clive Pearson.

One of the turret rooms has a collection of  hunting trophies and a  macabre collection the of pet dogs that had belonged to Colonel Frederick Mackenzie Fraser.