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Balfour Castle, Hebrides & Isles

Location: Shapinsay, Orkney, KW17 2DY (map and directions)

Balfour Castle is a grand fairytale-like castle on the southwest of the island of Shapinsay in the Orkney Islands. Balfour Castle is aptly know as Calendar House, as it has 7 turrets for the days of the week, 12 exterior doors for the months in a year, 52 rooms for weeks in a year, and exactly 365 panes of glass for the days in a year.

Balfour Castle, Hebrides & Isles copyright Purplebaron
Balfour Castle © Purplebaron

History of Balfour Castle

Commissioned by Colonel David Balfour and designed by Edinburgh architect David Bryce, Balfour Castle was built in 1847-1848, on the site of an older 17th century castle.

When David Hubert Ligonier Balfour died childless in 1961, Balfour was sold and used as a family home and country house hotel.

Balfour’s first floor rooms include a grand dining room, a French style drawing room, and a conservatory which faces the sea. There is an actual secret passage hidden behind a set of false bookshelves in the library which leads to the drawing room. Balfour also houses a gallery which is home to a family collection of statues and paintings. The old gatehouse of the castle is now the village pub.

Map and directions

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