Castle Fraser – A Glimpse of the Victorian Era (History & Travel Tips)

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Castle Fraser is located near Kemnay in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland. The estate spans over 300 acres with gardens, woodland, a tearoom, and a walled kitchen. Castle Fraser has been accessible to tourists ever since the Pearson family gave it to the National Trust of Scotland.

When visiting Castle Fraser, you will find yourself traveling through time, from the Victorian bedrooms to the well-equipped library to the amazing grandeur of the ancient Great Hall. Two well-designated walks on the estate also provide breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Fraser offers you a chance to unwind and take in the breathtaking views on the castle’s grounds. The panoramic views from the top of the circular tower spectacularly display the courtyard, gardens, and land beyond.

Castle Fraser served as the setting for a few sequences in the 2006 movie The Queen, starring Dame Helen Mirren.

The beautiful panoramic view of Castle Fraser.
The beautiful panoramic view of Castle Fraser.castle fraser flickr photo by stusmith_uk shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Construction of Castle Fraser (17th Century)

The sixth Laird of Fraser, Michael Fraser, began building Castle Fraser in 1575, and it was finished in 1636. The castle was built over several decades with the assistance of Thomas Leiper, a renowned mason of the time.

Frasers and the Jacobites (18th Century)

The Jacobite army’s front lines in the battles of Falkirk and Culloden in 1746 were manned by Frasers. At Culloden, a battalion of 400 Frasers served on the front lines.

Numerous prominent Jacobites have called Castle Fraser home, notably Charles, 4th Lord Fraser. Charles died in an accident while trying to flee government soldiers in 1716.

The majestic rear view of Fraser Castle.
The majestic rear view of Fraser Castle. Karora, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Renovation of the Castle (Late 18th Century)

A new entryway was added to the south side of the castle in the late 18th century, with sash windows installed all around. The lady laird, Elyza Fraser, supported by Mary Bristow, oversaw this project. The spectacular octagonal stable structure was built by Elyza, who was also in charge of renovating the property in general and removing the ruins of the former formal gardens and trees.

Between 1820 and 1850, Charles Fraser completely rebuilt the inside of the building with the help of John Smith and William Burn. The library is a beautiful example of John Smith’s Regency design interlaced with Tudor elements. Although a pipe organ in the Gothic style was added, many of William Burn’s more lavish Gothic ideas for the most significant rooms were not implemented, Today, even the organ is gone, moved to Kemnay Church.

The dual gatehouses, which are still standing, were built at this time. Other concurrent additions included a grand domed staircase, access corridors, and loggias in the courtyard (now removed). Another renovation began with new owners in around 1950. Dr. William Kelly, an architect and antiquarian, authorized the removal of a lot of 19th-century artwork in order to expose the older structure at this point.

Illustration of North courtyard of Fraser Castle in 1852.
Illustration of North courtyard of Fraser Castle in 1852. Robert William Billings, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Castle Fraser’s Interior

The inside of Castle Fraser, which hosts Fraser family photographs, furnishings, and collectibles, still has the feel of a family house. From the Regency dining room to the Medieval Great Hall, the dramatic interiors of the castle cover its entire history.

Nationalization of Castle Fraser (19th Century)

Frederick Mackenzie Fraser, the last male Fraser in the straight line, passed away childless in 1897. His wife sold the castle to the Pearson family in order to alleviate rising financial pressure and the absence of a successor. In 1976, they handed the castle to the National Trust for Scotland after restoring it as a hunting lodge.

At certain periods of the year, the grounds host some great historical re-enactments that allow visitors to learn more about life in the 1745 forces and see an staged conflict between the Jacobites and the Redcoats.

Victorian-styled interior at Fraser Castle.
Victorian-styled interior at Fraser Castle.Pixelyoshi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

Castle Fraser has been open to visitors since the Pearson Family handed over the castle to National Trust for Scotland. Visiting Castle Fraser makes you travel through history, from the remarkable elegance of the medieval Great Hall to the well-equipped library and Victorian bedrooms. Each laird has left their mark on the family seat, from the many methods they used to spy on people in the Great Hall to the medals they brought back from their travels, you can get to find out all about it on your visit to Castle Fraser. 

A medieval vantage of Castle Fraser.
A medieval vantage of Castle Fraser. Castle Fraser by Mike Searle, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The garden of the castle provides you with the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the wonderful views. The courtyard, gardens, and estate beyond are magnificent in the panoramic views from the top of the round tower. In the distance, one can pick out the unique peaks of Bennachie as well.

On the estate, you can take two well-marked paths that provide stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The Miss Bristow’s Wood route winds through a landscaped forest that is full of picturesque glades, twisting trails, and magnificent viewpoints. The Alton Brae path will lead you through the Sycamores of Broad Walk, evergreen woods, and next to the Flight Pond, where you can see multi-colored dragonflies. It is sure to be an adventure that you will remember for a long time.

The picturesque view of Castle Fraser from the flower garden.
The picturesque view of Castle Fraser from the flower garden. Castle Fraser flickr photo by Nick Bramhall shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Interesting Castle Fraser Facts

There are many interesting facts about Bunratty Castle. Below is a list of facts that you might find intriguing:

  • Colonel Charles Fraser’s wooden leg, which he wore after suffering an injury during the Peninsular War of 1812, is on display at the library.
  • In order to recreate the design and look of the gardens as they would have been in the 18th century, extensive renovation work has been done.
  • Castle Fraser served as the setting for a few sequences in the 2006 movie The Queen, starring Dame Helen Mirren.
  • The castle’s grounds are classified in Scotland’s Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes as a Category A listed area.
  • Castle Fraser is known as one of the castles in Scotland that has housed numerous Jacobites, notably Charles, 4th Lord Fraser. 

Visiting Castle Fraser – Tips and Tricks

Fraser Castle provides you with a lot of opportunities to explore and have a memorable time. You get to learn about the history of the Fraser family, and explore the garden, full of specimen trees, herbaceous borders, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables throughout the seasons.

If you’re keen to see this historic marvel, you can make your trip simple and enjoyable by using the tips and tricks listed below.

The rear courtyard of Castle Fraser.
The rear courtyard of Castle Fraser. Karora, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Castle Fraser?

If you are traveling from Aberdeen, you can take a bus, or taxi or you can drive there. If you are traveling by bus it will take 50 minutes and cost you £25 ($30 USD). Traveling via a taxi will take only 28 minutes but cost you £46 ($55 USD). Driving to the castle in your own vehicle will take 28 minutes and cost you only about £7 ($8 USD) in gas.

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The ticket price for adults visiting the castle is £14.50 ($17.13 USD). The family ticket, including parents and two children, costs £33.00 ($39 USD). For children under the age of five, the ticket price is only £1.00 ($1.18 USD). 

You can visit the castle grounds, the tearoom, and gift shop from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm, Friday to Monday. These timings are valid between 31st October and 18th December. The castle is closed from the 19th to 31st December 2022. 

The castle reopens on January 1st, with visiting hours from January to September being 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. 

Please note that the playground is still closed due to severe storm damage. Car parking is available and is free for castle members.

The library at Castle Fraser.
The library at Castle Fraser. Pixelyoshi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Things To Do at Castle Fraser

Castle Fraser provides several options for entertainment and exploration. Several of these activities consist of:

  • In 2023, Castle Fraser will be introducing something new and interesting. The castle’s recently-installed sound interpretation is called The Sounds of Fraser. It provides each room with a background mood based on a historical study. Get to know the castle in depth and enjoy the journey through time. 
  • Experience one of Scotland’s biggest tower houses up close.
  • Get to explore and find amusing elements like the Laird’s Lug Room above the Great Hall, hidden trapdoors, hidden stairs, and a spy hole in Bailiff’s Room.
  • Don’t forget to look through the family heirlooms and pictures on display to see what interesting or unusual items you might spot.
  • Climb to the top of the round tower to look at the beautiful views around the castle.
  • Go nature spotting and look out for blue damselfly, a badger, an otter, a four-spotted chaser, or perhaps a long-tailed tit.
  • Castle Fraser is the ideal location for fantasy weddings and business events. The expansive grounds of the castle provide several options for marquees and outside activities.
  • You can enjoy some fresh food in the castle’s newly renovated courtyard tearoom.
  • Take a look at the castle’s well-stocked library.

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It will take you around two hours to tour the estate and learn about the history of the castle. 

Some words of advice and tips: 

Here are some words of advice and tips to make your travel easier:

  • There is disabled parking close to the castle’s entrance.
  • The castle is 300 meters (328 yards) away from a coach parking space.
  • Dogs are permitted on the grounds; however, they should be on a leash in the courtyard.
  • Parking is available, cost-free for members.
  • The use of drones is not allowed at Castle Fraser without authorization.
  • Guided tours are available.
  • Gravel prevents easy wheelchair access to the castle courtyard. However, the entrance door can enable wheelchair access to the castle’s ground floor and tearoom.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Castle Fraser Areas

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Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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