History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 17th century plasterwork ceilings
The earliest record of Kellie comes from 1150, in a charter of David I. In the early 13th century Kellie was held by Robert of London, a bastard son of William the Lion, but in 1266 the estate was granted to the Siward family of Northumberland.
The Siwards made the mistake of supporting Edward I in the Scottish Wars of Independence. As a result, they lost all their Scottish estates, including Kellie. However, the castle did not completely leave the Siward family; it passed to an Oliphant relative who was married to the youngest daughter of Robert the Bruce. The Oliphants built the oldest part of the existing castle, including the large square tower at the northwest corner.
The new owner was Sir Thomas Erskine, a childhood friend of James VI. James named his old friend the first Earl of Kellie in 1619, but even before then Erskine was able to play host to the king when he returned to Scotland for the only time in 1617.
The Jacobite Earls
The Erskine Earls of Kellie were Jacobites and suffered for their support of the Stewart cause. The 4th Earl, Alexander, fought with Charles II at Worcester in 1651 and was imprisoned in the Tower of London as a result. The 5th Earl threw his support behind Bonnie Prince Charlie in 'The Forty-Five' Jacobite Rebellion. After the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746, the Earl spent the summer hiding in a beech tree in the castle garden. His faithful butler brought food to him every day, but in the end, his secret was revealed and he spent three years as a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle.
Another Lorimer to leave his mark on Kellie was Hew's father, Sir Robert Lorimer (1864-1920), who became a prominent architect. At the age of just 16, Robert laid out the wonderful gardens that surround the house. He also helped restore the 17th-century plaster ceilings and the painted panelling and designed new furniture for the house. Sir Robert was responsible for the summerhouse in the garden, where you will find a display in the history of the garden.
I daresay at least as many people come to Kellie today to see the gardens as to enjoy the castle. We came on a desperately rainy day, but the showers eased in time for us to explore the gardens. They truly are a delight. The organic walled gardens were laid out in the 17th century, but altered in the Victorian period, and include collections of old-fashioned roses.
The highlight of the interior is the 17th century painted ceiling in the library, installed to honour the visit of James VI. The Dining Room is decorated with colourful panelling painted by Dutch artists in 1676.
What to See
- Amazing 17th-century plaster ceilings
- Painted panelling
- Fine furniture
- Late Victorian gardens with old roses
- Woodland walks
- Hew Lorimer sculpture exhibit
- Mural by Phoebe Anna Traquair, Arts and Crafts luminary
About Kellie Castle
Address: Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland, KY10 2RF
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: 3 miles north west of Pittenweem, on the B9171
Website: Kellie Castle
Phone: 01333 720271
National Trust for Scotland
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Balcaskie House - 1.2 miles (Historic House)
St Monans Auld Kirk - 2.4 miles (Historic Church)
Newark Castle, Fife - 2.6 miles (Castle)
Blackfriars Chapel - 7 miles (Historic Church)
St Andrews, West Port - 7 miles (Historic Building)
St Andrews Cathedral and St Rule's Tower - 7 miles (Cathedral)
Kirkheugh, St Mary's Church - 7 miles (Historic Church)
St Andrews Castle - 7.2 miles (Castle)
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