History & Renovation

History & Renovation

A little about the history and renovation of Kinross House

Kinross House is located between Lochleven Castle and the town of Kinross and possesses one of the most historic views in Scotland, directly across from the 11th century castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned and finally abdicated.

Kinross House is the first, and most important, neoclassical Palladian mansion built in Scotland. Described in Country Life Magazine as ‘the complete expression in stone of the Renaissance in Scotland’ the property was Sir William Bruce’s greatest masterpiece.

Sir William Bruce is regarded as the founder of classical architecture in Scotland, a career politician and gentleman architect who played his part in early 17th century royal and political intrigues. He was architect to King Charles II and amongst other renowned architectural projects, was responsible for rebuilding the Royal Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh between 1674 and 1679, and adding major alterations to Thirlestane Castle, Hopetoun House and Caroline Park. He is often compared to Sir Christopher Wren and was mentor to William Adam.

Sir William Bruce created the designed landscape and planted the formal gardens ten years of Kinross House before he started construction of the house, so that once the house was complete it would be set in a mature landscape. Construction of the house commenced in 1685.

Following the Bruce dynasty, the estate was purchased by George Graham in 1777 and passed through marriage to the Montgomery family. It remained in the family until 2011 when Mr Donald Fothergill acquired the property.

Mr Fothergill’s purchase heralded the beginning of a total renovation project of a magnitude that can only be described as a labour of love. Teams of specialists were carefully picked to return this magnificent building to its former glory whilst also providing it with state of the art capability.

The restoration work was completed in 2013 and the property was winner of the prestigious Historic Houses Association and Sotheby’s UK Restoration Award of the year.   No expense has been spared to make this breathtaking property reflect Sir William Bruce’s vision for opulent entertaining which will only be seen and experienced by the few.

Kinross House is very much a private residence for Mr Fothergill at various times of the year, but when he is not in residence we are able to offer the estate for the ultimate exclusive use occasion.

The history of Loch Leven Castle Island

The house looks out to Loch Leven and its Castle, surrounded by water and immersed in history, with both having taken centre stage at key moments of Scotland’s history. Most famously, Lochleven Castle is remembered as the place where Mary Queen of Scots was incarcerated and forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son James VI.

Lochleven Castle, on Castle Island, was believed to be constructed in 1257. Today it is one the most important medieval castles in Scotland and is one of the jewels of the Kinross House Estate.

During the first war of Scottish Independence (1296 – 1328) the invading English army held the castle, but before the end of the century it was later recaptured by Scottish forces led by Sir William Wallace, who was immortalised in the film Braveheart. Lochleven Castle became one of only five castles to hold out against the English (during David II’s reign) at the time.

Robert the Bruce moved part of the royal exchequer to Loch Leven. Bruce stayed here in 1313 and 1323 and was the first to use the castle as a prison. Evidently he had confidence in its security potential.

King Robert II then visited the castle in 1369.

In 1392, Lochleven Castle and estate lands were conveyed by Robert II to the Douglas family, in whose possession it remained for the next 300 years.

In 1561, Mary Queen of Scots first visited Lochleven Castle as a guest of the owner, Sir William Douglas and it was at the castle she debated the Scottish Reformation with John Knox. She later returned to the castle as a prisoner between 1567 and 1568 and was forced to abdicate the throne in favour of her infant son, James VI during her captivity. Dramatically, she escaped across the loch and went into exile in England, never to return to Scotland again.

The castle remained in the ownership of the Douglas family, Earls of Morton, until it was purchased by Sir William Bruce who used the castle as the eastern most focal part of his famous designed landscape to create Kinross House.

Loch Leven itself is now an internationally recognised nature reserve and is the home to a plethora of brown trout. The loch is about 14sq km in size, but was once considerably larger, having been partially drained between 1826 and 1836 to reclaim land for more local farming.