Floors Castle all you need to know and more

When it comes to fairytale architecture, you can’t beat Floors Castle. This sandstone delight is picture perfect. Add to this, magnificent grounds with tree plantations dating back centuries, and a prime position on the banks of the River Tweed, and you have one very special Scottish castle.

But don’t take our word for it – read on to discover just why Floors Castle should be on your must-see list the next time you’re in Scotland.

Floors Castle lies in the beautiful Scottish Borders, renowned for their gentle hills, woodlands and riverscapes. The castle sits just outside the market town of Kelso with its famous abbey and the River Tweed on the doorstep. Part of Roxburghshire, Floors Castle has belonged to the Duke of Roxburghe since it was built in 1721.

Floors Castle – a brief history

Unlike many other castles in Scotland, Floors Castle wasn’t originally built as a fortress. The ruined remains of Roxburgh Castle, one of the largest medieval fortresses in Scotland built in 1125, lie across the Tweed, but the current building has its origins in the early 18th century.

As a reward for his endeavours in the Act of Union in 1707, the first Duke received his title and set out to build a castle fit for his status as a nobleman. William Adams was the architect and designed a classic Georgian house with symmetrical wings on either side of the main building. Adams also created the first tree plantations giving grandeur to the estate while taking full advantage of the sweeping views across the Tweed and to the Cheviots.

Straight from a fairytale

Five dukes later, Floors Castle took on fairytale status between 1837 and 1847. Commissioned by the 6th Duke of Roxburghe, Edinburgh architect William Playfair turned Floors into a sandstone vision of theatrical parapets, fluted chimneys and its signature pepper-pop turrets that sit on top of all the towers.

Much of the castle’s fine interiors and decoration owe their origins to the American wife of the 8th Duke who brought her inheritance to Scotland in the early 20th century. Among the fine paintings and furniture were two priceless collections of tapestries: the Brussels and the Gobelins.

Floors Castle fascinating fact:

Floors has always been one of the grandest castles to stay in Scotland and today it ranks as the largest inhabited castle in the country. 

Highlights at Floors Castle

The list of delights at Floors runs long, but while you’re there don’t miss…

Fairytale façade – best viewed from the banks of the River Tweed where you can appreciate the symmetry and fine Scottish Renaissance style. 

Tapestries – of the two collections, the 17th century Gobelins tapestries are the highlight and make a lovely backdrop to the ballroom. 

Paintings – among the surprises at Floors Castle are masterpieces by Picasso, Gainsborough, Raeburn and a particularly fine collection by Matisse.

Walled Garden – classed as one of the finest in Scotland, the herbaceous borders are a feast for the senses in early summer. 

Holly tree – while you’re strolling the grounds, don’t miss the holly tree planted to commemorate the spot where King James II died after his gun backfired in 1460. 

Views – like so many castles in Scotland, Floors does views with a capital ‘V’; panoramic vistas stretch as far as the eye can see from many vantage points from the estate and the main rooms have stunning views of the Tweed and beyond.

Floors Castle fascinating fact:

When she visited Balmoral every summer, Queen Victoria made a habit of staying in a castle other than her own. While she didn’t actually ever stay at Floors, she did go to afternoon tea in 1867. The Queen’s House was built in honour of her visit and today you can see it in the Walled Garden. 

Why visit Floors Castle

You’ll want to put this castle on your list of things to see in Scotland for many reasons. First and foremost, this a magnificent example of Scottish Renaissance architecture and the archetypal fairytale castle. Stand back on the grounds and take in the four storeys, two wings and all those towers and turrets. They look particularly fine at first and last light.

Lovers of antiques and objets d’art will find an astonishing assortment of porcelain, paintings, tapestries and furniture in every room of the castle. They take centre stage in the large rooms alongside family memorabilia and mementos such as photos and portraits, reminding visitors that Floors Castle is first and foremost a home.  

Fans of gardening will love the grounds at Floors Castle. The Walled Garden covers four acres and the Victorian fruit and vegetable gardens are a delight at any time of year. Its herbaceous borders are legendary among gardeners and the oak-framed fruit cage for raspberries is a more recent attraction. The colourful Tapestry Garden and elegant Millennium Garden with its French style parterre are two modern additions, are also well worth a visit.

And then there are the grounds, an attraction in themselves. The Star Plantation showcases some of the finest trees on the estate – don’t miss the row of Spanish chestnuts, planted in the 18th century. Stunning whatever the season, floral highlights include snowdrops in winter and rhododendrons in summer. 

Floors Castle fascinating fact:

Sir Walter Scott, who lived at Abbotsford not far from Floors Castle, was so impressed by the extensions on the castle in 1847 that he described it as “a kingdom for Oberon and Titania to dwell in”. 

Visitor information

Floors Castle only opens to the public between Easter and the end of September and at weekends in October with set opening times: 10.30am to 5pm. During the rest of the year, you can visit the Walled Gardens, open November to March between 10.30pm and 4pm. For full details, check out the Floors Castle website.

Floors Castle fascinating fact:

In 1748, the Duke of Roxburghe had to pay £14 and four shillings in window tax, one of the highest amounts in Scotland. At that time, the castle had no less than 294 windows!

Staying in a castle near Floors

After your visit, you’ll agree that Floors is one of the finest castles to stay in Scotland and no doubt your appetite will be whetted for your very own castle accommodation. While it doesn’t run to 294 windows or pepper-pot turrets, the refurbished Wing at Melrose Castle, Sir Walter Scott’s home, offers views to die for and a luxury stay among antiques rivalling those at Floors. 

The 100-acre estate boasts stunning views of the Borders and Tweed, a pretty garden and unique castle touches such as the Juliette balcony, tall tower and glasshouse built like a jousting tent. All 15 of you will enjoy luxury surroundings in comfort – each of the seven bedrooms has an en suite, the kitchen comes with all mod cons and there’s even a billiard room with full-sized table. And just upstream along the Tweed from Floors Castle this castle accommodation in Scotland makes the perfect Borders stay. Book yours now.

Enjoyed reading this? Read more in our Scottish Castles series:
1. Dunnottar Castle
2. Stirling Castle
3. Eilean Donan Castle
4. Urquhart Castle
5. Culzean Castle
6. Balmoral Castle
7. Glamis Castle
8. Crathes Castle
9. 7 reasons to visit Stirling
10. Castles in Scotland – all you need to know
11. 14 Scottish castles with Royal connections
12. Fascinating facts about royal castles

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All you need to know about Floors Castle