Barony Castle

(Black Barony Castle, Darn Hall, Darnhall)

A picturesque B-listed mansion, which now serves as a hotel in the N Scottish Borders, Barony Castle is set in 10 ha (25 acres) of mature gardens and woodlands on the left bank of the Dean Burn, a half-mile (0.8 km) west of Eddleston and 4 miles (6.5 km) north of Peebles. The castle, known for a time as Darn Hall or Darnhall, comprises a symmetrical white-harled block of three storeys and an attic, framed between large projecting four-storey square towers. These towers feature rusticated quoins and are capped with ogee bellcast roofs, featuring fish-tail slates. This block with its Jacobean-style facade largely dates from 1700-15 and was built for Sir Alexander Murray of Blackbarony as an extension to an L-plan tower house, which dates from 1536 and was known as Black Barony Castle. This style was considered a little old-fashioned even as it was constructed and, by the middle of the 19th C. plans were drawn up for a new mansion. Greatly to the benefit of Scotland's architectural heritage, this was never built and, instead, the old house was repaired and altered to suit Alexander Oliphant-Murray, 9th Lord Elibank (1804-71) around 1847. A north block was added in 1855 to provide bedrooms for the family, and the house was further altered in 1887. The property had passed to the Murrays of Elibank in 1771, who retained it until 1926 when the building was modified once again to become the Black Barony Hotel, with a ballroom added in 1933.

In 1940, the hotel became the headquarters of the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade of the Polish Army, under General Stanislaw Maczek (1892 - 1994) and subsequently used as the Polish military staff training college until the close World War II. Thereafter it returned to use as a hotel, which was acquired by Jan Tomasik, a Polish-born hotelier, in 1968. Tomasik had been a soldier under Maczek during World War II and gave his former commander the use of a suite in his hotel. Along with Polish academics, these men planned and built the remarkable Polish Map of Scotland in the grounds (1974-75), which remains today. Also in the grounds are stables (c.1850), an ice-house (1789) and the now-derelict Bellvue Temple, a quarter-mile (0.4 km) to the west southwest.

Barony Castle became part of the De Vere hotel group and traded very successfully, being the main training centre of the Scottish Ambulance Service for many years. It includes 78 bedrooms, 14 meeting rooms, a restaurant and bar, together with a health and fitness suite featuring an indoor pool, sauna, spa bath and gymnasium. The hotel was for sale in 2012 with a price-tag of £1.95 million.

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