The word ‘castle’ summons up all kinds of heroic and inspiring notions, and you wouldn’t be wrong in describing luxury venue, Dundas Castle, as exactly that. With a history spanning 600 years, three owning families and plenty of unique uses, the building has lived and breathed its own history. As one of the most romantic locations in Scotland, Dundas Castle is a breath-taking wedding and events venue: from the atmospheric Auld Keep to the 19th century castle, it certainly has some tales to tell its guests.
History of the house
James Dundas built the ‘modern’ castle in 1818, on the remains of the earlier seventeenth century building. One of Scotland’s greatest architects, William Burn, designed the house. He was more famous for building churches, and his influence can be seen in the passageway, staircase and main hall, with the church-like windows giving an unparalleled view onto the spreading lawns and parkland outside.
Sadly for the Dundas family, the building and the extensive gardens had cost so much to construct and maintain that the estate had to be sold in 1875. The house was sold to Mr Russell - a gentleman who had a liking for rearing and betting on horses – and then to Stewart-Clark, a titan of the Victorian textile industry and the great-grandfather of present owner Sir Jack Stewart-Clark.
Since being owned by the Stewart-Clark family, the estate has passed down the generations, but with one or two challenges on the way. At the outset of WWII when a German Luftwaffe raid took place on the Forth Bridge, the Ministry of Defence decided to take measures to protect it with barrage balloons.
The position of the Castle with its commanding views over the Forth Bridge and surrounding countryside made it the ideal location for the balloon barrage headquarters. Sadly, five long years of military occupation did no good whatsoever for the structure and condition of the buildings.
The father of the present owner, Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, served in the war as an anti-aircraft artillery officer, being too old to join his earlier WWI regiment, the Coldstream Guards. His younger brother, Dudley, flew Spitfires for the Royal Air Force. Although he survived the Battle of Britain and downed several enemy aircraft, he was tragically shot down and killed somewhere over Northern France.
It was only when Sir Jack inherited Dundas Castle in 1995 that serious restoration of the 600 year old ‘Auld Keep’ and castle began. The Keep had not been inhabited for over 300 years and the main Castle was found to be in the grip of dry rot. Many rooms had to be stripped and stone work was restored.
Once renovations were complete, the lady of the house - a talented interior designer - started on a complete refurbishment - making Dundas Castle into the magnificent exclusive use venue it is today. Original silks from the Stewart-Clark family’s famous thread-making firm were replaced in the library and wherever possible original items were retained,as well as updating the house’s bedrooms with all the facilities that modern guests require.
Today’s Dundas Castle is a much more tranquil place with its vast lawns, floral borders and stunning views. With a restored boathouse on the loch-side available as a romantic retreat, a luxurious glamping site and a permanent marquee for weddings, modern life in Dundas is very different to when it was built. So, why not be part of the Dundas story and join over 600 years of history with your own event in this stunning, historical home?