Entrance Front, Bowhill
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Entrance Front, Bowhill

Located 3 miles (5 km) west of Selkirk, Bowhill is the principal residence, and very much the family home, of the Dukes of Buccleuch. The current Duke maintains three other grand country houses in Scotland at Branxholme (near Hawick), Drumlanrig (Dumfries and Galloway) and Dalkeith Palace (Midlothian).

Built in the early 18th C., Bowhill underwent two major face-lifts; firstly into a classical villa at the hands of William Atkinson, who was the architect at Sir Walter Scott's Abbotsford, and later by William Burn (1789 - 1870). Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832), who was a close friend and remote relation of the 4th Duke of Buccleuch, gifted the original manuscript of his book The Lay which can be found in the study at Bowhill.

The estate had been owned by the Scotts since the 12th C. However, it briefly passed to the Murray family in 1690, who built the original house, but was bought back by 2nd Duke of Buccleuch in 1745. The 4th Duke added substantially to the house from 1812, asking architect William Atkinson initially to build on to the south aspect, but then add new flanking wings (1819). The 5th Duke commissioned William Burn to further remodel and extend the house (1831) and indeed Burn continued to tinker with the house until his death. The result was an extensive if somewhat rambling house with an enormous 133m (437 feet) frontage.

The house includes a fine collection of French furniture, porcelain (including Meissen and Sevres) and portraiture by Reynolds, Gainsborough, van Dyck, Raeburn and Lely. One room includes memorabilia relating to the Duke of Monmouth, the son of King Charles II, who married the Duchess of Buccleuch but was executed in 1685. The furnishings and art have been enhanced by items drawn from the Buccleuch's former homes of Dalkeith Palace and Montagu House (London) which have been put to other uses. Notably 'General Monk's Bed' has come from Dalkeith.

A Country Park has been created in part of the estate which is regularly open to the public.

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