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Oxenfoord Castle

Oxenfoord Castle
©2014 Gazetteer for Scotland

Oxenfoord Castle

Located a mile (1.5 km) north of Pathhead (Midlothian) and 9 miles (14 km) southeast of Edinburgh is Oxenfoord Castle. The castle began as an L-plan 16th tower house which belonged to the MacGill family and was inherited by the Dalrymple family in 1779. Robert Adam (1728-92) was engaged to enlarge and modernise the old tower house in 1780, completing his work two years later. In an early example of the Scottish baronial style, Adam built a new castellated house which completely encased the old tower, incorporated grand public rooms, including the dining room which survives today. Above the entrance Adam added interest by including statues of an ox and a horse. When the family inherited the Earldom of Stair (1840), it was decided Oxenfoord needed a face-lift and William Burn (1789 - 1870) was commissioned. Although Burn was sympathetic to Adam's original in places, his work generally swamps, and some say spoils, that of his predecessor. Burn removed Adam's porch and added a new one, together with a low block of reception rooms, which lessen the impact of the south side of the house. Inside, however, Burn's work is more successful, with a magnificently decorated library and drawing room.

Between 1931 and 1993, the castle was a private school. Today it is being developed as an exclusive hotel and adult adventure centre.

The original 1.4 ha (3.5 acre) walled garden is now open as Oxenfoord Castle Gardens, established in 1965 as a traditional market garden. Today it sells plants to the trade and public.

The bridge over the Tyne Water carrying the driveway to the castle was built around 1783 by Alexander Stevens and castellated later by Burn.


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