3rd – 7th June 2018
23rd – 27th September 2018

Based at Hotel MacDonald Cardrona at Peebles

Some of the loveliest unspoilt landscape in the kingdom, rich with country houses and neat market towns. We visit the treasure house of Bowhill as well as Abbotsford, Mellerstain, Traquair, Arniston and Rosslyn Chapel.  Oh!  And a day in Edinburgh. All go!

Nicholas will give talks on The Adam Family of Architects and Some Country Houses of the Scottish Borders.

Price from £799

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Day 1: Arrive independently at the Macdonald Cardrona Peebles. This evening there will be a talk by Nicholas Merchant ‘The Adam Family of Architects’ followed by dinner with wine.

Day 2: Mellerstain, Thirlestane Castle and Traquair Houses.
The first visit on this wonderful new tour is to Mellerstain, an Adam family creation – by father and son team, William and Robert – this 18th century mansion dates from 1725 and is privately owned by the Earl and Countess of Haddington and contains many family treasures, particularly portraits. We will then travel to the 14th century Thirlestane Castle, where a light lunch will be served on arrival, followed by a private visit of the house. This afternoon we will have a guided tour of Traquair House, Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. It was originally a hunting lodge for the Kings and Queens of Scotland, and has been visited by 27 Scottish monarchs over the years. Dinner at the hotel.

Day 3: Bowhill and Abbotsford.
First up is Bowhill for a guided tour of the splendid collections housed within its walls, that would make any museum green with envy, beginning with the “Triumph of Caesar” tapestries and continuing through room after room filled with 18th century French furniture, Sèvres porcelain, silver, paintings by Gainsborough, Reynolds and Canaletto and, finally, in a room dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, one of the finest collections of miniature portraits in the world. Lunch is included here in the Minstrel tearoom. Afternoon visit to Abbotsford, home of Sir Walter Scott, who was a close friend of the Scotts at Bowhill. Scotland’s most famous writer’s unique, early 19th century house is redolent of his attraction to the country, including in its eccentric architecture relics of abbeys and castles. It also houses his library and multifarious collections. Second talk ‘Some Country Houses of the Scottish Borders’ and dinner this evening will be at the hotel.

Day 4: Edinburgh.
A full day in Edinburgh including a guided tour of the National Gallery of Scotland, one of the most handsome art galleries in Europe, overlooked by the castle. Afternoon free for independent exploration before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Day 5: Rosslyn Chapel and Arniston.
Our final day of visits takes us to Rosslyn Chapel, founded by the Earl of Caithness in 1456 to pray for the souls of the departed, the chapel was unused after the Scottish Reformation in 1560, until 1861 when it was reopened for use under the auspices of the Scottish Episcopal Church. This extraordinary building with its grotesque and mystical architecture is justly famous, particularly thanks to references to it in several fictional stories. After lunch by own arrangement, it’s off to Arniston, a splendid house built 1726-1732 by William Adam, father of the more famous Robert, for the Dundas family who still live in the house. The house was saved from dereliction by the present owners, much to their credit and boasts spectacular bold plasterwork, a strange clock, family portraits including a remarkable Raeburn and an extensive porcelain collection in the old library at the top of the house. Return to the hotel for approximately 17.30.