The stately home of Dundas Castle is celebrating the 600th birthday of its historic Auld Keep during 2016 and 2017.
The castle, situated on the outskirts of South Queensferry, is one of Scotland’s oldest venues and in its lifetime has been a prison, a home, a fortress, a RAF base, a brewery and now a stunning events venue.
The castle has been in the ownership of Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, a member of a family which owned the J and P Coats thread business.
Sir Jack has had a long and distinguished career. After attending Eton and Oxford he served in the Army in North Africa. He then joined the family firm, working across the world until he took on senior roles at Philips, which eventually led to him becoming chairman of Philips Electrical Ltd.
Following his business career he entered the European Parliament and held the seat of Sussex East from 1979 to 1994 and has held a number of non-executive roles.
Sir Jack and wife Lady Lydia inherited the Castle in 1995 from Sir Jack’s mother and have undertaken a massive programme of restoration to create the successful venue it now is. The family live in a wing of the Castle.
Going back to the history of the Auld Keep, a charter was granted to build the Keep from the Duke of Albany in 1416-17. In the earlier reigns of Scottish Kings, care was taken to ensure that no-one should build a castle without the King’s own licence. This was essential precaution at the time to prevent rebellious barons from obtaining possession of a place which would enable the owner to defy the King and the law.
A ‘keep’ as its name implies, was a place of defence and refuge. It was used both as a home in times of peace and a fortress in times of war and hostile raids from both the north and south.
During its history it has hosted everyone from Oliver Cromwell to the current Royal family and it once had a secret passage running to the Carmelite Priory Church in South Queensferry.
Boasting spectacular views both north and south from the roof of the Keep, the building is now the centrepiece for the many weddings and corporate events which are held at Dundas. It houses its own chapel and a small intimate dining area, the Stag Chamber.
And over the coming 12 months, the history of the building will be marked with a number of celebratory events, culminating with a special commemoration in 2017.
The celebrations will begin with a series of unique dinners available to book on an exclusive basis. While the usual requirement is for visitors to take the whole castle on an exclusive use basis, for the 600th birthday, groups of up to 20 can book a tasting menu dinner within the Stag Chamber of the Auld Keep and enjoy its historic and atmospheric surroundings.
Sir Jack Stewart-Clark said: “Marking the 600th birthday of a building requires a big celebration! These dinners are totally unique and offer a one-off opportunity for our guests to enjoy the surroundings of our historic and beautiful Keep.
‘‘We will soon announce our plans to mark this exciting milestone and the team at Dundas really looks forward to a significant year for our business.”