Inside Scotland's most expensive property - VistaBee Review

The Telegraph's Property Editor Stuart Penney and VistaBees own CEO & Founder Steve Reilly visit the fairytale Craigcrook Castle, visited by Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen, and on sale for £6m

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle, but who says it has to be in England? Located just three miles from Edinburgh, Craigcrook Castle looks like a home fit for any fairytale.

Architecturally Craigcrook sits somewhere between a Loire chateau and Downton Abbey. It is approached through wrought-iron gates and up a sweeping drive. Its towers and battlements look like something from an old-fashioned toy box.

Abundant wildlife only adds to the effect. A kestrel hovers above the ramparts, a young deer strolls under a sequoia tree. Rabbits play on the grass near rhododendrons. I begin to wonder whether the agent has staged it all to lure me in.

It’s a relief to learn that I am far from the only visitor to have felt inspired by this startling place. The list of guests is a literary Who’s Who.

Scotland's most expensive property

Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Andersen, George Eliot and Alfred Lord Tennyson all stayed here. In the 19th century, Lord Francis Jeffrey, the owner at the time, would host artistic retreats for the literary giants with leapfrog on the lawn and sumptuous soirees. The castle became a centre of cultural gatherings, inspiring English poet Gerald Massey to write one of his most accomplished poems – Craigcrook Castle. It is an inspirational building with an amazing history, on the market for the first time in nearly three hundred years. Originally built in 1542 by William Adamson, it was transferred through several owners before John Strachan, Writer to the Signet, acquired the property. He then left it to the Craigcrook Mortification Trust in 1719. Now on sale for the first time since, Craigcrook is a £6m Grade "B" Listed gem.

The earlier building was a typical Scottish z-plan, where each tower protects two faces of the house. Additions and changes over the centuries have obscured this design while adding extra living space. While it is a magnificent castle from the outside, however, on the inside Craigcrook is a bit of a surprise.

Enter through an enormous heavy wooden door, walk up a stone spiral staircase and a warren of rooms waits. But here you won’t find the homestaged Euro greige that so many interior designers favour. For the past 48 years, the building has been let and used as offices. Bar a few curtains, carpets and an Orient Express clock hanging in the hallway, it is empty. The perfect blank canvas, in other words.

Now the castle is waiting an adventurous owner to breathe new life into these walls. Plans have already been drawn up to convert the property into a five bedroom family home (subject to planning permission) by Lord Macneal Architects. It would make a fabulous place to live. The grand hall has original features, including oak floor boards, beautiful wooden panelling and a stately fireplace with a griffin tile mosaic. A bright yellow-wallpapered dining rooms boasts an elaborate ceiling rose and cornices.

The snug, meanwhile, is regally decorated in sapphire blue wallpaper with wide windows that overlook the estate. No need for curtains when you have original window shutters. In one corner, a Alice in Wonderland-style door opens to a secret room.

VistaBee Scotland's most expensive property

This time it is a twisting staircase, going up to a study, then the future bedrooms on the floors above. At the top, ramparts and crenellations stand triumphantly beneath an empty flagpole in this year of the Scottish independence vote.

Wherever you stand politically, there is no doubt that this house will suit the independently minded.

But who will buy this kind of property? Continuing its literary heritage, maybe a Scottish writer such as Alexander McCall Smith or JK Rowling might be interested.

After all, Harry Potter was born in Edinburgh, just a 15 minute drive away, when Rowling sat in the Elephant House cafe, conjuring up her world of famous characters.

There is no shortage of interest already in Craigcrook, explains Rory Ballantyne, of Ballantynes, joint agents with Sotheby’s International Realty.

"Properties like this are very rare in the market and combine the opportunity to purchase a 16th century castle with extensive gardens," he says.

"The configuration allows the castle to be transformed to its former glory as a residential property easily, while offering the new owners the chance to design the interior to suit their individual taste."

If this castle sells for £6m, then it will be Edinburgh’s - and probably Scotland’s - most expensive homes. Grand estates might fetch more, but not houses such as this one.

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But the initial investment doesn’t include the cost of renovating a property on this scale. The figure of bringing it up to speed could be anything from £1m-£2m, depending on the detail. It is hard to estimate the final cost at this stage.

To off-set this expenditure, on the other hand, the house would be well placed to generate an income. It could double as a wedding venue, or even a small hotel. With four acres, including a gatehouse and stables, the leisure potential is open-ended. Being only a short drive from the centre of Edinburgh, the house is easily accessible via road, rail or the airport.

It might look like something out of a Hans Christian Andersen story. But for the right buyer, Craigcrook is a real prospect with serious potential.

*Craigcrook Castle in Ravelston, Edinburgh is for sale at £6m through Sotheby’s International Realty (020 7495 9580) and Ballantynes(0131 459 2222)

The Google Glass series is filmed with the help of Vistabee.

Reproduced with permission of The Telegraph, read the full article here:

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