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Drumlanrig Castle

Located in Upper Nithsdale, 16 miles (25 km) west of Moffat and 18 miles (28 km) NNW of Dumfries, Drumlanrig is one of four Scottish important country houses owned by the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, the others being Bowhill (Selkirk), Branxholme (Hawick) and Dalkeith House.

Drumlanrig was built on the site of a 14th century castle of the 'Black' Douglas family, where King James VI was entertained in 1617 on his return to Scotland. The family was rewarded for its support for the Stuart monarchy and William Douglas (1637-95), the 1st Duke and 3rd Earl of Queensberry, ordered the construction of the present castle as a dwelling more appropriate to his status, a project that nearly bankrupted him in the process.

Drumlanrig was built between 1679 and 1691 probably by James Smith (c.1645 - 1731) perhaps with the assistance of his father-in-law Robert Mylne (1633 - 1710), the King's Master Mason. Earlier designs by architect royal Sir William Bruce (1630 - 1710) had certainly been consulted, unsurprising as both men new him well. This may explain why the style was just slightly outdated for its time. Local pink sandstone was used in the construction and the result is a grand example of Scottish domestic architecture. Externally, the house is built around a courtyard, with a circular tower in each corner. Internal wood panelling and carving are a notable feature and the rich oak staircase and balustrade represents one of the first of its kind in Scotland. Bonnie Prince Charlie visited while retreating north late in 1745, and his bedroom can be seen today.

Drumlanrig and the Queensberry title passed to the Dukes of Buccleuch in 1810 on the death of the 4th Duke of Queensberry, whose only contribution had been the felling of the surrounding forests to maintain his philandering lifestyle in London. The Buccleuchs brought to the home a magnificent collection of furniture and art, with works by Holbein, Rembrandt and Gainsborough. In 2003 a painting entitled Madonna with the Yarnwinder by Leonardo Da Vinci, valued at £40 million, was stolen from the castle, although it was recovered four years later in Glasgow.

Today, Drumlanrig is supported by extensive estates deriving income from farming and forestry.


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