Dalhousie Castle

Hi Friends,

I have missed you! I’ve been on a little blogging break and now I feel refreshed and ready to get back into the groove. I think it’s really important to do that every once in awhile. Do you feel that way too?

Reader, today I would like to take you to Dalhousie, a 13th/15th century castle that sits about eight miles to the southeast of Edinburgh, Scotland, near the town of Bonnyrigg.

Mr. C and I had the pleasure of visiting Dalhousie in the spring of 2014. While we did not spend the night in this beautiful castle hotel/spa, we did dine in The Dungeon Restaurant.  What a marvelous experience!

Our evening commenced in the Library (I feel like this should be said with a posh British accent) where we were served with an apéritif.  You just finished that sentence with an accent, didn’t you? That makes me laugh. It was all so elegant and sophisticated.  And a bit strange. It just so happened that there was a very large wedding party ‘meet & greet’ type of situation taking place and Mr. C and I appeared to be the only people in that room not affiliated with the group. Ever the introverts, we were all too grateful to discover an empty pair of leather chairs by the window where we could inconspicuously sip our drinks and wait to be called to dinner.  We laughed at ourselves and said that if we had been anyone else (you know, like normal people), we would have probably gotten a kick out of mingling with the group of strangers.  I had the feeling that some in the wedding party may have felt awkward as well, as people would occasionally glance our way as if trying to work out in their minds whether they were supposed to know us or not.  Were we their long lost relatives from the Americas?  Were we wedding crashers?  Were we members of the British Royal household?  Just kidding.  No, I suspect that perhaps they were just wondering who the ‘pretentious’, unsocial couple in the corner were!  

Eventually, a sweet woman – bolstered by lots of wine I had imagined –  made her way over to us and inquired whether we were with the bride or the groom.  She introduced herself as the groom’s mother.  We explained that we were there for dinner and after a pleasant chat, she offered to snap our photo.  Thankfully, not long after, we were called to dinner. Whew!  Further awkwardness averted.

Dinner at The Dungeon was one of those experiences that you don’t forget. Dark, candle-lit, intimate, and in the coolest setting imaginable, our meal began with an amouse-bouche, followed by appetizers, main entrees, and finally, dessert. Every course was prepared with creativity, detail, and care. It was all so unbelievably delicious! We still talk about that meal and the bottle of South African wine that we drank that night.

Dinner in the ancient barrel-vaulted dungeon.
Appetizer course: rabbit
My handsome Mr. C.

Dalhousie Castle has an impressive history that spans more than eight-hundred years. According to dalhousiecastle.co.uk, “An old account claims that Simundus de Ramesia, a freeman, followed King David 1st to Scotland from Ramsay, a Huntingdonshire village, in about 1140 and was the founder of the line and the first to have land at Dalwolsey.”

The castle was first constructed by the Ramsays in the late 13th century, however, all that remains of the original structure are the thick foundation walls and the vaults. Also gone is the drawbridge and the deep, dry moat. Much of what we see today was built around 1450 from red stone that was quarried from the close-by River Esk. Additions and extensions were added to the castle over the following years.

Year after year, century after century, Dalhousie passed through the Ramsay line. In fact, it is said that the Ramsays retained possession of Dalhousie Castle longer than any other castle owners in Scotland! From 1925 through the early 1950’s, Dalhousie was used as a private boarding school. And after a period of being uninhabited, the castle was finally converted into a hotel in 1972.

Timeline, Circa 1500: “Origin of the ‘Grey Lady’, an apparition of a Lady Catherine, a mistress of one of the Ramsay lairds. She was locked up in one of the Castle turrets, where she perished. Her ghost has been seen on the stairs and in the dungeons.” -dalhousiecastle.co.uk

As you can probably tell by the condition of the castle, it seems to have fared quite well through the many tumultuous years of conflict between Scotland and England. Though captured by the English in the fourteenth century, Sir Alexander Ramsay managed to retake it in 1342. And in 1400, Dalhousie proved its strength when it withstood a six-month siege initiated by King Henry IV of England. Even Oliver Cromwell (ask me sometime what Mr. C calls him – haha) had his hands on Dalhousie when he moved in and used it as a base for his invasion of Scotland in 1648. Other notable visitors of the castle include King Edward I of England, King James VI of Scotland, and Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.

Today as a luxury hotel, Dalhousie Castle offers its guests twenty-nine rooms from which to choose, two restaurants, and a spa that offers everything from facial yoga and flat belly contours to mani/pedis to coconut massage. I bet ol’ Ollie Cromwell never got to do THAT when he was there!

Thanks for stopping by today, my friends. I hope you enjoyed our visit to Dalhousie. I appreciate you and I’ll see you again soon!

Cheers,