Home to the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, Bowhill House has an extraordinary past, playing a significant role in the history of Scotland.
The name Buccleuch meaning ‘buck from the ravine’ supposedly originated from an incident in which one of the family, John Scott, saved King Kenneth from a buck charging at him. Grabbing the buck by the Antlers, Scott consolidated their place in royalty.
The status of the Buccleuch family was raised further with the marriage of Anne Countess of Buccleuch and the ill-fated Duke of Monmouth (illegitimate son of Charles II) in 1673. This house tells the tale of the family’s rise to Dukedom and you can see remnants from the families over the years.
Its grounds were a hunting favourite for many Scottish Kings and many famous people such as Sir Walter Scott, stayed there. Sir Walter Scott even mentions ‘Sweet Bowhill’ in his famous poem ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’.
Bowhill House was mostly built in 1812. It was used as a military hospital during the First World War and then by the army during the Second World War.
Nowadays you can view the expansive art collection, the Buccleuch Collection. Built up over five centuries it includes family portraits and a selection of miniature portraits, including the famous unfinished miniature portrait of Oliver Cromwell. The home has a feeling of grandeur and furniture such as Baroque writing desks create the feeling of a truly Scottish castle.
Besides the house, you can explore the grounds. The view across the Ettrick Valley is truly stunning, and the gardens are specifically designed to take advantage of this. You can go horse riding or fishing if you want to make the most of of the ideal surroundings or take a tour with a ranger.
One of the best attractions is the adventure playground. With its 30 metre zip wire, slides and even a rope bridge, kids can go wild. Younger children can play in Nutty the Squirrel’s soft play centre. When you feel a bit peckish pop into the Minstrel Tearoom, which has a range of comforting food from soup to scones and these are mostly locally produced. To top off your Scottish adventure grab a locally made souvenir from the gift shop. If you do get the chance, a visit to the Bowhill Theatre (originally the Game larder) is unmissable.
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