DiCamillo Companion
DiCamillo Griffin Logo

Ferniehirst Castle (Ferniehurst Castle) (Fernyhurst Castle)

  • House & Family History: The seat of Clan Kerr, ancient Wardens of the Middle and East Marches, Ferniehirst is an L-shaped house on the east bank of the Jed Water in the Borders. The Castle, known as "Scotland's frontier fortress," is one of the best-preserved of a distinctive group of mansion houses erected by wealthy Border lairds during the late 16th century. Ferniehirst was originally built as a pele tower in the 1470s by Sir Thomas Kerr and was thereafter almost continuously engaged in warfare. It was occupied by English troops in 1547 during the war of the Rough Wooing and then attacked and almost demolished in 1593 by the Scottish king, James VI, because the Kerr family had helped Francis Stewart, 1st Earl of Bothwell, who had conspired against the king. Ferniehirst was rebuilt in 1598 by Sir Andrew Kerr, and it is his house that is primarily what exists today. By the 18th century Ferniehirst had been abandoned and was falling into a ruinous state. In the 19th century the Castle was extensively restored and re-roofed. Between 1934 and 1984 Ferniehirst was leased by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association, with the exception of World War II, when it was requisitioned as a billet for troops. After the youth hostel vacated in the 1980s, the 12th Marquess of Lothian restored the House as a private home.

    Collections: The circa 1595 portrait of the Elizabethan poet John Donne (1572-1631) by an unknown English artist was sold from Ferniehirst in 2006. The portrait was valued at £2.3 million, but was offered to The National Portrait Gallery, London, for £1.6 million as a private treaty sale by Sotheby's (the reduced price was the result of tax benefits to the seller, the 13th Marquess of Lothian). The portrait is considered to be the finest life-time portrait of the poet; it was left by Donne at his death to his friend, Robert Kerr, and remained in the Kerr family almost 400 years.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: Sheep originating from Viking times continue to graze on the grounds.

  • Architect: Unknown (designed by an unknown architect)

    Date: 1984-87
    Designed: Restored for 12th Marquess of Lothian

    View all houses
  • Title: Art Newspaper, The
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: Feb 2006
    Publisher: London: Umberto Allemandi & Co.
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Newspaper

    Title: Buildings of Scotland: Borders, The
    Author: Cruft, Kitty; Dunbar, John; Fawcett, Richard; et al
    Year Published: 2006
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300107021
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Category A

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • "Interceptor" (1989 - TV game show series).
  • Current Seat / Home of: Michael Andrew Foster Jude Kerr, 13th Marquess of Lothian; Kerr family here since 1470.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 07825-440-198

    Fax: 01835-863-992

    Email: ferniehirstcastle@btconnect.com

    Website: http://www.ferniehirst.com

    Historic Houses Member: No