Balmoral Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Balmoral, a royal residence in Crathie parish, Aberdeenshire, on the southern bank of the Dee, 9 miles W by S of Ballater, 52½ W by N of Aberdeen, and 9¾ ENE of Castleton of Braemar. It stands on a strip of level meadow, which, 926 feet above sea-level, is bounded on one side by a fine curve of the Dee, overlooked on another by the hill of Craig-Gowan (1437 feet), and commands an extensive sweep of striking scenery. A previous pile, occupied several autumns by the Royal Family, stood on adjacent ground further from the river, but was irregular and incommodious. It belonged originally to the late Earl of Fife; was rented on a lease of 38 years, and very greatly enlarged, by the late Sir Robert Gordon, brother of the Earl of Aberdeen; and, in 1848, when 27 years of the lease had yet to run, was sold in reversion to the Queen. The nucleus of it, or part built by the Earl of Fife, was a long, steep-roofed, high-gabled, small-windowed house, and Sir Robert Gordon's additions were so numerous and various, in the form of turrets, central tower, and so forth, as to destroy all architectural character. The pile belonged to no recognised order, and displayed no unity of design, but Her Majesty saw in it, on occasion of her first visit (8 Sept. 1848), ` a pretty little castle in the old Scottish style.' The foundation stone of the present edifice was laid on 28 Sept. 1853; and it was not quite finished when the Royal Family entered it, on 7 Sept. 1855. It was built of granite, from designs by William Smith of Aberdeen, at a cost of about £100,000; is in the Scottish Baronial style; and consists of two blocks, connected by wings, and with a massive tower to the E, which, 35 feet square and 80 high, has a round corner stair-turret, 20 feet higher. A handsome suspension-bridge in connection with the royal residence was constructed across the Dee at a cost of £5000, and forms a communication with the N side of the river at Crathie church. The estate of Balmoral was purchased in 1852 by the late Prince Consort for £31,500. It comprises about 11,000 acres, extends from the Dee to the summit of Lochnagar, joins the estates of Abergeldie and Birkhall, which also became royal property; and the three estates constitute one demesne, extending 11 miles along the Dee, and southward thence to the watershed of the Dee's basin. Her Majesty owns in the shire 25,350 acres, valued at £2393 per annum. Many objects of interest are noticed in separate articles; one only shall be noticed here-the cairn that was reared on Craig Gowan in 1863 in honour of him who had planned the entire work. It bears inscription: ` To the beloved memory of Albert the Great and Good, Prince Consort, erected by his broken-hearted widow, Victoria R.- Wisdom of Sol., iv. 13,14. '-See pp. 65,86,105,109, 115,116, and 130 of -Leaves from the Queen's Journal in the Highlands (ed. 1877).—Ord. Sur., sh. 65,1870.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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