Standing in a lovely wooded gardens and parkland, the attractive old castle was home to the family of John Napier, inventor of logarithms, and has a fine Edwardian interior.
Lothians: About 3.5 miles west and north of Edinburgh Castle, between Davidson’s Mains and Cramond, on minor road north of the B9085, at Lauriston Castle.
City of Edinburgh NT 204762 OS: 66 EH4 5QD
OPEN: Guided tours: open Mar-Oct, Sat-Thu 14.00, closed Fri; Nov-Mar, Sat & Sun only 14.00, closed Mon-Fri; group visits by appt at other times. Events programme.
Tel: 0131 336 2060 Web: www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk
Edinburgh Croquet Club (based at the castle)
Set in fine wooded grounds looking out over the Firth of Forth and Cramond Inch, Lauriston Castle is a much-altered 16th-century tower house of three storeys and an attic, to which was added a two-storey Jacobean extension, designed by William Burn, in 1824-7. The tower has a round stair-tower, and two large pepperpot bartizans crown one side, as well as very tall chimneys. The castle stands in fine grounds and gardens laid out by William Playfair in the 1840s, and there is a Japanese Friendship Garden, gifted by the people of Kyoto.
The basement of the old part is vaulted. The first-floor hall has a hidden stair leading to a spy hole.
‘Laurencetoun’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of The Lothians, then ‘Laureston’ on Adair’s map of Midlothian in wooded policies.
The lands were held by the Forresters, but the castle was built by the Napiers of Merchiston in the 16th century, and is said to have been attacked by the Earl of Hertford during the Rough Wooing in 1544. One of the family, John Napier, was the inventor of logarithms. Master John Cant had a ratification of 1641 for the lands of Lauriston and Randleston, with the tower, fortalice, manor place, etc. In 1656 the property was sold to Charles II’s solicitor, Robert Dalgleish, and in 1683 to the Laws.
One of the family was John Law, a gambler who killed a man in a duel and was senteced to death. He fled to France where he became a banker and was briefly Comptroller General of France and made a fortune; however he died in relative poverty in Venice in 1729. In 1827 Lauriston passed to the Allans, who were also bankers, owned the Caledonian Mercury Newspaper, and extended the castle, and then later to the Rutherfords, and then to the Crawfords of Cartsburn.
Lauriston finally went to the Reids, who owned Morrisons and Co, a leading Edinburgh cabinet-making business. They were the last owners, and gave it to the city of Edinburgh. The castle has a fine Edwardian-period interior with Italian furniture, Sheffield plate and Blue John ornaments.
This was one of the locations for the 1969 movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with Maggie Smith. The Edinburgh Croquet Club is based at Lauriston
The ghostly sound of feet have reportedly been heard in the castle.
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