History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
In a wooded setting just outside the historic town of Haddington is the beautiful historic house of Lennoxlove, based around a 14th-century fortified tower. Lennoxlove is the family seat of the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton.
The story of Lennoxlove goes back to Roman times, though no trace of the original Roman building remains. Sometime around 1345, Robert Maitland of Thirlestane bought the estate at 'Lethington'. Maitland built a traditional L-plan fortified tower house, and this 14th-century building now forms the south-west portion of the present house.
In 1548 Mary of Guise stayed here whilst visiting Haddington. The following year the house was burned by English troops. A later Maitland owner was William Maitland, who served as Mary, Queen of Scots' Secretary of State. Mary's son, James VI, came to Lethington in 1593 to persuade John Maitland, his Chancellor of state, to return to court.
The final Maitland owner of Lennoxlove was John Maitland, the 1st Duke of Lauderdale, who died in 1682. Generations of Maitlands are commemorated with fabulous memorials in the Lauderdale Aisle in St Mary's Church in Haddington.
In 1702 the estate was purchased by the trustees of Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, for her cousin Walter Stuart, who later became the 6th Lord Blantyre. The Duchess stipulated in her will that the estate should be named 'Lennox's Love to Blantyre'. This mouthful was later shortened to 'Lennoxlove'.
The Duchess of Lennox is the most famous name associated with Lennoxlove, though she never lived here. Stuart was a renowned court beauty and was one of Charles II's mistresses. She was also the model for the figure of Britannia that appears on British coinage. a contemporary portrait of Frances Stuart os one of the highlights of a house tour.
In 1804 Gilbert Burns became the factor of Lennoxlove. Gilbert had a rather more famous brother, the poet Robert Burns. A later owner called in the noted Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer to remodel the house. The 14th Duke of Hamilton bought Lennoxlove in 1946 and the family still owns the house.
Lennoxlove House is an intriguing mixture of time periods, with 18th-century Palladian and Victorian elegance blended with the earlier 14th-century tower house. The house also acts as a showcase for one of Britain's great art collections, featuring portraits, fine furniture, and ceramics. Much of the collection was brought here from Hamilton Palace in Lanarkshire when that house was pulled down.
Paintings include works by such artists as Anthony van Dyck, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Henry Raeburn, and Sir Godfrey Kneller. among the fine art objects is a silver jewellery box once owned by Mary, Queen of Scots. Tradition says that Mary kept letters in the box that proved her complicity in the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley. the box was later used to hold Mary's death mask.
A more modern artefact is the compass and map used by Rudolf Hess when he fled Nazi Germany for Scotland in 1941. Hess tried to involve the 14th Duke of Hamilton in his plan to negotiate a peace treaty between Britain and Germany.
One of the Lennoxlove art treasures cannot be seen as it is held in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. That is a 17th-century silver-gilt toilet service made for Frances Stuart in 1672. The service was discovered in a custom travelling case stored in a tower room at Lennoxlove.
In the grounds are a herd of White Park Cattle, a rare breed linked to ancient aurochs.
Lennoxlove is located on a lane just off the B6368 9or B6369) immediately south of Haddington. Just follow the brown tourist signs.
Our family was fortunate enough to have a private tour of the house. We didn't plan it that way, but there were no other visitors at the time! We were led by a woman with an obvious love of the house and an encyclopaedic knowledge of its history. The austere exterior of Lennoxlove doesn't prepare you for the luxurious interior, or the stunning collection of fine art.
About Lennoxlove House
Address: Haddington, Lothian, Scotland, EH41 4NZ
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: 1 m (1.6 km) S Haddington
Website: Lennoxlove House
Historic Houses Association
OS: NT515 721
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
St Martins Kirk, Haddington - 1 miles (Historic Church)
Lauderdale Aisle - 1 miles (Historic Church)
Haddington, St Mary's Church - 1.3 miles (Historic Church)
National Flag Heritage Centre - 3.5 miles (Museum)
Chesters Hill Fort - 3.8 miles (Prehistoric Site)
National Museum of Flight - 4.3 miles (Museum)
Hailes Castle - 4.4 miles (Castle)
Gosford House - 5.5 miles (Historic House)
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