Floors Castle – The Palace That Is A Country House (History & Travel Tips)

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As one of the largest inhabited residencies in Scotland, Floors Castle is considered a “country house,” rather than a full-fledged fortification. Its beautiful, dramatic facade and sprawling architecture is certainly one for the books, brimming with as much richness on the outside as it holds on the inside. With picturesque surroundings and artistic integration of elevation elements, it feels like something plucked straight out of a Disney movie. Let’s take a detailed look at what Floors Castle has to offer:

The Floors Castle has been a part of many movies including Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; the castle was even featured on Amazon Prime’s “An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates.”

A closer view of the architectural structure of the floors castle.
A closer view of the architectural structure of the floors castle. Floors Castle flickr photo by DrBob317 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Taking Stock of the Origins (12th Century)

The land where Floors Castle sits today was the property of the Kelso Abby and its inhabitant monks in the past. It wasn’t until the Reformation when the lands were bestowed to the Ker family on the behest of King James VI. The very first owner of the site was Sir Robert Ker, who was granted the title of Earl. It was his fifth descendent who won the title of Duke in 1707, as a reward for his participation in the Act of Union.

Floor Castle's architectural detail close up view.
Floor Castle’s architectural detail. Floors Castle flickr photo by DrBob317 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Revamp under William Adam (1720s)

When the fifth Earl became the Duke, he decided to build himself a new residence in order to boast his new status. This is when he hired the most prolific architect of the time, William Adam (who was succeeded by his son Robert Adam) to come up with new plans for the building. It was Adam who laid the base for the gardens that still surround the edifice, although the landscaping has been renovated and inlaid with walkways, parterres, trails, and even a walled garden nowadays.

William Adam a Scottish Architect Mason.
William Adam a Scottish Architect Mason. William Aikman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The final look of the Floors Castle revamp was quite understated. It wasn’t as ornate or dramatic as the Duke had hoped it might be. In fact, since there were no appellations or tactical fortifications surrounding this new reincarnation of the building, it was dubbed a country house instead of a castle.

It’s important to note that the original structure of the Roxburgh Castle lies in ruins just across the River Tweed, and used to be one of the most intense fortifications in Scotland.

Old photo of Floors Castle.
Old photo of Floors Castle. Bain News Service, publisher, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The 19th Century Romanticist Revamp (1837-1847)

It was only when the 6th Roxburgh Duke came into power that Floors Castle achieved its true potential in terms of architecture, design, and landscape possibilities. This revamp was officially carried out by William Playfair. With a little insight from the Duke, he managed to convert the underwhelming construction of the castle to a truly elaborate beauty. This refurbishment was inspired by Edinburgh’s Heriot Hospital

A dramatic view of the castle from across its green grounds .
A dramatic view of the castle from across its grounds . Timo Newton-Syms from Helsinki, Finland and Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The final profile of the castle facade features gorgeously designed turrets, pinnacles, cupolas, and the like. Perhaps one of the most dramatic and theatrical features of this revamp was the porte cochere. It was a mimicry of the modern-day awning – only bigger and grander – where carriages could pull up for visitors to exit without being hampered by the weather.

Current Times

The Floors Castle that we see today is the 19th-century interpretation by William Playfair. There’s a genteel fairy-tale aspect to the whole design that attracts tourists to this destination in hoards. The grounds are definitely a gorgeous sight, the guides are really great at capturing your interest. The overall impact particularly leaves an impression on little children – especially those who like playing at royalty. 

The beautiful flower bed at the side of the floors castle.
The beautiful flower bed at the side of the floors castle. Flower bed at Floors Castle in the Scottish Borders flickr photo by Karen V Bryan shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

The interior of the castle is just as magnificent as the outdoors. It’s filled to the prim with gorgeous art pieces, stunning furniture, and expensive tapestries. The true highlight is the porcelain artifacts and you can bet that any history buff would love to stay inside and explore each detail for hours.

Interesting Floors Castle Facts

  • The Floors Castle grounds are nationally listed as one of the most significant parks in Scotland and they come under the Inventory of Gardens & Designed Landscapes.
  • The Floors Castle has been a part of many movies including Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; the castle was even featured on Amazon Prime’s “An American Aristocrat’s Guide to Great Estates.”
  • The eighth Duchess of the Floors Castle was an American Heiress known as Mae Goelot. Amongst all her possessions, the ones that you can enjoy in the castle interior today include Gobelin tapestries from the 17th century. 
  • A biomass boiler was installed at the Floors Castle in 2010. This was to provide the building with a renewable energy source and was an undertaking for the future by the current Duke and Duchess.
  • There’s a place called the “Queen’s House” that sits in the middle of the Walled Garden of the Floors Castle, it was constructed as a memorial of Queen Victoria’s visit in 1867, when she visited for tea.
  • The Holly tree in the Floors Castle was planted to mark the death of King James II. He passed away tragically when his gun backfired in 1460.

Visiting Floors Castle – Tips and Tricks

As one of the most iconic representations of Scottish architecture, Floors Castle is definitely the place to visit. If you’ve been thinking about taking a tour, then you’ll find this information to be quite useful:

A side-view of the Floors Castle facade.
A side-view of the Floors Castle facade. Floors Castle flickr photo by DrBob317 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

How to get to Floors Castle?

There are many ways that you can reach Floors Castle from Edinburgh (Scotland’s central hub). The first is by train – you just take line 67, between €14-€23 ($16-$37 USD), and you’ll reach your destination in 2 hours, 47 minutes. Your second mode can be the No. 51 bus with a cost of €11-€14 ($12-$16 USD). It will get you to the Floors Castle in 3 hours.

You can also take a taxi from Edinburgh, but it’s the most expensive mode of transportation at €119-€144 ($140-$170 USD). If you have a car, then the 1 hour drive will be around €8-€13 ($9-$15 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Floors Castle offers a number of different ticket packages and even has an online ticket-buying option for you to explore. You can visit the castle anywhere between Easter and the start of September between 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. It’s only open to the public on weekends in October. Only the castle grounds and Walled Garden can be visited from November till March, between 10:30 am and 4:00 pm.

There are various ticket packages that you can avail. If you’re a resident who wants to make frequent visits then you can opt for the €24 ($29 USD) year-round pass. If you only want to enjoy the castle grounds for walks, strolls, and picnics, then you can go for the €12 ($15 USD) pass. Other than that, the full castle tour costs €18 ($22 USD) per adult and is free for kids. A simple tour of the gardens and grounds only costs €9 ($11 USD) per adult.

Floors castle entrance to the Gift Shop with tables and chairs in the middle.
Floors castle entrance to the Gift Shop. Floors Castle flickr photo by DrBob317 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

2-3 hours will allow for a full tour of the castle’s 4 floors and all the grounds.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • You should take advantage of the tree-lined avenue and nature trails available on the castle grounds, especially if you like spending time outdoors.
  • If the mood calls for it, you can even take a riverside stroll beside the Tweed.
  • If you get hungry during your visit, then you can always indulge yourself in the fine cuisine offered at The Terrace, the Floors Castle cafe.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Floors Castle Areas

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