Lothians: About 1.5 miles west of Dalkeith, on minor roads east of A7, just west of the North Esk, at Melville Castle.
Private NT 310669 OS: 66 EH18 1AP
OPEN: Hotel. Weddings and events.
Tel: 0131 654 0088 Web: www.melvillecastle.com
Site of castle, which was demolished when the present house, a symmetrical castellated mansion of three storeys, designed by James Playfair, was built at the end of the 18th century.
‘Melym’ is marked on Blaeu’s map of The Lothians, then ‘Melvin’ on Adair’s map of Midlothian.
The property took its name from a Norman baron called de Malavilla in the 12th century, and was held by the Melvilles. It passed to Sir John Ross of Hawkhead in the late 14th century, and was reputedly visited by Mary, Queen of Scots and may have been used by David Rizzio.
Melville was sold to David Rennie in the 18th century, then passed by marriage to Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, who married the 14-year-old Elizabeth Rennie, who was heir to Melville and a substantial fortune, and predeceased him after he had spent his way through he fortune: she also ran off with another man. Dundas was a very powerful man in Scotland, also owned the Dunira estate, and there is a memorial to him in the gardens of St Andrew Square in Edinburgh. He is buried in one of the burial aisles at the Old Parish churchyard at Lasswade [NT 302661]. Visitors to the castle include George IV, Sir Walter Scott and Queen Victoria.
The Dundas family held the property until after World War II, during which the castle was used as a rehabilitation centre. The place was then became a hotel but, although only abandoned in
the 1980s, soon became derelict. In recent years, the building has been restored and refurbished, standing in a 50-acre wooded estate, and is now a hotel again.
The castle is reputedly haunted by the spirit of possibly Elizabeth Rennie, Dundas’s wife, or perhaps another spectre of Mary, Queen of Scots. During renovation, an apparition of a woman was seen to walk through a wall, later found to be a blocked-up door, and there are further reports of the sighting of the apparition.
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