Traquair house is a 50-room fortified mansion (rather than castle in the strict sense of the word) near Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders. It is the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland and the most prominent Jacobite house in Southern Scotland.
Built on the site of a hunting lodge used by Scottish nobility, the current building is from the 15th century and is in as near an original state as any house in Scotland from the period. But what makes Traquair so impressive isn’t just its age or appearance, but that it has seen so much history over the last 600 years. Its pivotal connection to the Stuart Monarchs of Scotland and subsequent Jacobite cause make it a fascinating living history museum.
Entering Traquair is like walking in the footsteps of past kings of Scotland. Climb the turnpike staircase and discover how priests escaped in times of danger. Discover The Drawing Room containing ancestral portraits and photographs, Dressing Room, The King’s Room where Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots stayed in 1566 and The Dining Room, one of the last additions to the house, built in the late 17th century.
The house if also full of interesting artefacts from the period including a library of more than 3,000 volumes and display of possessions of Mary Queen of Scots including her rosary, crucifix, purse, a silk quilt. There is also a collection of embroideries, letters and relics on display.
Outside you can wander in the expansive grounds, navigate the hedge maze and adventure playground or simply relax for lunch or tea in the 1745 Restaurant.
Connections to The Jacobite Movement
Although the Jacobite movement is often affiliated with the highland clans, it recruited support from most corners of Scotland. Charles Edward Stuart Aka Bonnie Prince Charlie landed near Glenfinnan in 1745 with the aim of overthrowing King William of Orange and his wife Mary, Dutch puppet Monarchs who sat on the throne in London.
The Jacobite movement gathered support and pace as it travelled south to England and The Fifth Earl of Traquair (also Charles Stuart) joined Bonnie Prince Charlie on the crusade. However, by the next year the Jacobites luck had turned and they were on the retreat, suffering a fatal defeat at Culloden in April 1746.
Symbolically the Earl had closed the bear gates as he left, vowing that they wouldn’t be opened again until a Stuart was back on the throne. He was imprisoned after The Battle of Culloden and the gates have been closed ever since.
Traquair houses a famous brewery that dates back to the early 1700’s. Originally a domestic brewery serving the house and the estate, a 200 gallon copper was installed in 1739 in one of the wings beneath the chapel. The Brewery fell into disuse in the 1800’s and was forgotten until it was rediscovered by Peter Maxwell Stuart, 20th Laird of Traquair. He began brewing again in 1965 and today the brewery and beer and celebrated across Scotland.