Seton Castle was built on the site of the Seton Palace, which formerly belonged to the Earls of Winton and was a popular retreat for Mary, Queen of Scots before being demolished in 1789 after 75 years of neglect. Lt Col Alexander Mackenzie of the 21st Dragoons, eldest son of Alexander MacKenzie of Portmore, Peebleshire commissioned Robert Adam in the summer of 1789 to build Seton Castle. The remains of the old building were demolished and cleared by 1790. with the exception of the vaulted ground floor which remained
By December 1789 working drawings were completed and the building contract was awarded to the builder Thomas Russell. The construction occurred between 12 November 1789 and the summer of 1791. John Patterson, Robert Adam’s Clerk of Works in Scotland, who became later a competent architect in his own right, reported to Adam in a letter of 26 April 1790 that the old building had been demolished and cleared. The demolition of Seton Palace provided a ready supply of stone for erecting the new building, Robert Adam dined with his client in the new house on 11 June 1791, on his last visit to Scotland before his death.
Sir John Summerson wrote of Seton Castle ‘The house builds up like an operatic set beyond the low gateway and outworks’
When Alexander Mackenzie died as a young man in 1796, the Earl of Wemyss acquired the estate. Later it was occupied by the Stevenson family of Prestonfield House.
The castle is a category A listed castellated late-Georgian house, one of the most striking of Robert Adam’s late houses in the castle style. It is made up of several shaped towers around a curved wall enclosing the courtyard which is entered by a central archway.
The castle is adjacent to Seton Collegiate Church which is now in the care of Historic Scotland
The 15-bedroom castle remains a private family home although is used as a venue for occasional charitable events.
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