An earlier tower house on the site of current Melville Castle was demolished when the present structure, designed in 1786–1791 by James Playfair for Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, was built.

The original tower house was owned by the Melville family, before passing to Sir John Ross in the 14th century. It subsequently changed hands with the attached lands several times and was sold to David Rannie in 1705. It then passed to Henry Dundas through his marriage to the daughter of David Rannie, Elizabeth Rannie.

The Castle was owned by the Dundas family until after the Second World War, when the ninth Lord Melville moved to a smaller house on the estate and the castle was leased as an army rehabilitation centre and then later as a hotel. By the early 1980s, the hotel fell into disrepair and was unoccupied. In the late 1980s, the estate and the adjoining farms were sold, but remained closed.

In 1993, the castle was bought by the Hay Trust, which extensively restored the property over 8 years. The castle was reopened as a hotel in June 2003, leased by Aurora Hotels. Their lease expired in January 2012. Today it still operates as a hotel and venue for weddings and continues ownership by the Hay Trust.



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Founded: 1786
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in United Kingdom

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Livey P (3 months ago)
Nice place, but probably wouldn't stay again. Beds were uncomfortable and where you eat breakfast felt odd. Everything was so close and squishy. It was ok. Don't hate it ,but don't love it. Edit this is from September 2019
Michael Roberts (5 months ago)
Always loved the Melville castle, until we received an email canceling our wedding, not even a call to say it was closing, but an email that was sent to my fiancé's junk email. Very disappointed!
Samantha Blackley (9 months ago)
Beautiful location for our wedding in October 2019. Lovely autumnal colours. Fiona our wedding planner at Melville Castle was amazing and kept everything running smoothly!
Elle (10 months ago)
Lovely place with stunning grounds. Few horses, seen some deer bounding along. One point deducted as the walls are very thin(could even hear their plug going in) and breakfast could do with more options, fish, veggie sausages and eggs other than scrambled
Jake Panesar (10 months ago)
Charged double for my room. After asking why this was, the receptionist said that the first was not a payment, but allocating the payment for later. This was 3 months ago and I have still not received this "pre-payment" back. After chasing daily and weekly I have had to accept that this hotel simply took twice the money I was told I would pay. Such a shame as it was a lovely hotel, but not worth paying double though!
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.