Traquair is Scotland’s oldest continually inhabited house and I am lucky enough to call it my home. In 1107 it was built as a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland and then it belonged to the Earl of Buchan who gifted it to his son James Stewart who became 1st Laird of Traquair in 1491. From then it was passed down through the generations and I now, more than five hundred years later, am the 21st Lady of Traquair.
The castle of Traquair became more of a family home between 1500 and 1600 when the tower was extended and then two wings were added in 1694. It is still very much a family home where I and now my children are being brought up. After 1694, there were no additions at all except for the famous Bear Gates at the top of the avenue, which were closed in 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie was the last person to pass through them and the Earl of Traquair promised they would not be opened again until a Stuart king was returned to the throne. The Stuarts were never able to regain the crown from the Hanoverians, but at Traquair we have not given up hope, perhaps one day…
Traquair is a romantic castle. Mary Queen of Scots, the doomed queen of the Scots, stayed here in 1566 while she was on a hunting expedition with her husband Darnley and baby son James, later to become James IV of Scotland and I of England. Mary was beheaded by Elizabeth I, Queen of England. The Stuarts of Traquair practised the Catholic religion from the 1650s which at that time was banned so they were forced to keep a priest in hiding in a little room at the top of the house which also contains a secret staircase where he could escape quickly in times of trouble. If you visit Traquair, you will see this. One of our favourite games as children was to race up the stairs and surprise visitors as we sprung out from behind the creaking door!
Traquair was open to the public from 1958 and so I was brought up with visitors in the summer wandering around our home and I have always greatly enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. (It is nice in the winter as well when it is entirely quiet and peaceful). I started work early, washing dishes in the tearoom at the age of 5 until I progressed to being allowed to help my father in the 300-year-old brewery which lies in one of the wings of the house. Our traditional Scottish ales are still produced today and exported all over the world; you can taste it and buy a bottle when you are here. The grounds of Traquair are also magical and include the Maze which was planted 25 years ago and is now fully grown and quite an experience; it is easy to get lost, but if that happens to you, yell and we will come and find you. There are no formal gardens here but you can walk in the ancient woodlands that lead you to the River Tweed and enjoy what was one the most tranquil and romantic places in Scotland. I hope you find time to come and see us when you visit Scotland; you will find a warm welcome at Traquair.
-21st Lady of Traquair
- Webseite von Traquair House
Fotocredits: Traquair House