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Tranquair House, Scottish Borders
Location: Innerleithen, Peebleshire, EH44 6PW (map and directions)
Traquair House is located 5 miles south of Peebles and though originally constructed in 1107 as
a hunting lodge for kings and queens of Scotland, Traquair House is not technically a Scottish
castle. However, its relevance in Scottish history and the fact that it dates back 900 years and has remained essentially unchanged for the last 300 makes Traquair an important Scottish structure
and piece of living history.
Traquair House © Andy Stephenson
History of Traquair House
In 1176 a charter was signed by William I at the Palace of Traquair (as it was then called), in which
he founded a ‘burgh’ that had the right to hold a market every Thursday. This burgh became the
city of Glasgow.
Both Edward I and II stayed at the house during the Wars of Independence of the 13th and 14th
centuries. It was not until 1460 that Traquair left the hands of royalty. James III gifted the house to
William Rogers, a court musician, who after only 9 years sold Traquair to the Earl of Buchan. The
Earl of Buchan then gave Traquair to James Stewart and became the first Lord of Traquair in 1491
when James IV rose to the throne.
The house was used as a refuge for Catholic priests as the Stuarts of Traquair supported Mary
Queen of Scots (her bed still located at the house) and the Jacobites, though did not suffer any
negative effects of the outcome of the uprising.
Since this time, Traquair has remained in the same family. In the late 1500s the house was
enlarged, and in the early 1600s the 7th Lord of Traquair (who became the Lord High Treasurer of
Scotland) added a top story in addition to changing the course of the River Tweed. This was done
to prevent damage to the house, as it stood just near a bend in the river.
An addition of two side wings, a courtyard, terraces to the rear and the railing at the front of the
house in 1695 were the last changes made to Traquair, and the house has remained the same
Traquair House © John Clive Nicholson
In 1953 Frank Maxwell Stuart, the 19th Lord of Traquair, opened the house to the public for the
first time, and the Lords of Traquair continue to reside here today. Despite its use as an everyday
residence, much of the house is on view, boasting several important features, such as its Bear
Gates, last closed in 1745 by the Jacobite army marching south to England and remaining
unopened until a Stuart again sits on the Scottish throne.Traquair House and grounds is open daily to the public from April to 31 October and with shortened
weekend hours only in November.
The Museum Room is home to one of the oldest surviving murals in Scotland, dating back to
1530. A secret room on the top floor of the house, known as the Priest’s Room, served as
sanctuary for John, the 2nd of Earl of Traquair and his wife, Lady Anne Seton, to practice their very
controversial Catholic beliefs in post-Reformation Scotland in the 17th century. There is a chapel in
the northwest wing, which was established after 1829, when Catholics could again worship freely
and legally in Scotland.
Traquair is also home to its Cottage Restaurant built in 1745 and its Traquair House Brewery
housed in the 18th century wing. Behind the house there is a maze which was built in 1981 and
requires a quarter of a mile walk to reach the centre.
View Traquair House in a larger map
Other castles in Scottish Borders Ayton Castle
Nether Horsburgh Castle