Thursday, 7 November 2013

Drumlanrig Castle

The pink palace of the Douglases  in Nithsdale, Dumfrieshire is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular houses in Scotland. A superb example of the Scots tradition of building castles for show rather than defense. The Douglas family really made its' fortune during the 1680's when Charles II appointed Sir William Douglas as a Lord of the Treasury and ultimately as Lord High Treasurer of Scotland himself.

In the seventeenth century  political appointments were an invitation to the office holder to enrich himself at the state's expense. That  was the point of holding political office. A long way to go to the duck house scandals of today's parliamentarians, but the same principal. Charles II was so pleased with his proteges tax raising prowess that in 1684 he was created Earl of Drumlanrig, the following year Marquess of Queensberry and then in 1686, first Duke of Queensberry. A meteoric rise.

To reflect his new found wealth and status the Duke of Queensberry called in the architect James Smith to design him a magnificent new house. He certainly got it, Drumlanrig Castle is swaggering palace with all the magnificence of a stage set. The skyline of turrets and towers proclaiming the status and ancient lineage of the Douglas's who had lived in the Nithsdale since the 1380's.

Drumlanrig Castle has in fact remained remarkably little altered since it was built, the open loggia on the entrance front was filled in to make a new front hall. Since the dukedom and the Drumlanrig estate passed to the third Duke of Buccleuch in 1810, Drumlanrig has been merely one of many splendid houses owned and periodically occupied by the peripatetic Montague-Douglas-Scott's, the largest landowners in Scotland.