Wednesday, 25 April 2012

V is for Venlaw Castle, Peebles, in the Borders of Scotland

Venlaw Castle was originally a 14th century fortification founded by Clan Hay.  The early house was built on the site of the old Smithfield Castle in 1782 and enlarged in 1854.
Venlaw Castle Hotel

The ‘house’ is considered to be an excellent example of the Scottish Baronial style and is set within extensive grounds – however in 1949 it became a hotel. 

The interesting part here is that the owners, the Cummings, could not afford to pay the “development tax” levied on people turning a private house into a business.

The library in the turret, much as
it was when it was built
However the Cummings successfully fought to have the tax abolished, and their success is recorded in Hansard. 

Hansard is the name of the printed transcripts of parliamentary debates in the Westminster system of government, and is named after Thomas Curson Hansard (1776 – 1833), an early printer and publisher.

Venlaw Castle Hotel -
front aspect
The hotel opened in 1949 and remained in the Cummings family until it was sold in 1997. 

Venlaw Castle may now be a hotel, but the Clan Hays continue on ... the Scottish clan has played and continues to play an important part in the history and politics of Scotland.

Clan Hay descends from the Norman family of de la Haye – with evidence, based largely on heraldry, being presented that the Scottish Hays were descended from the La Haye’s of the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy.

Slains Pursuivant, Peter Drummond-
Murray of Mastrick, is the private
officer of arms
 of the Chief of
Clan Hay (see Wiki)

One of the Hay tartans as recorded in the Vestiarium Scoticum – and with a name like that ... apparently it is “probably the most controversial costume book ever written”. 

The book itself purported to be a reproduction, with colour illustrations, of an ancient manuscript on the clan tartans of Scottish families – but shortly after its publication it was denounced as a forgery ... and to this day it is accepted that the Vestiarium is not what it claimed to be.

Hay Tartan taken from the
Vestiarium Scoticum

That is V is for Venlaw Castle Hotel as it is now and the dubious Vestiarium Scoticum giving us a peek into Scottish history, the realisation of the importance of heraldry, together with the knowledge that the British Parliamentary record system is very robust ... part of the ABC series of Aspects of British Castles.

Bob Scotney featured Uffington Castle, Berkshire yesterday

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Lynn said...

A castle hotel - now that would be fun.

I wonder if my Clan tartan is in that book. :)

Bob Scotney said...

The number of castle that have become hotels is quite surprising and here's another one. I wondered if the Cummings you mentioned were connected to those I mentioned in connection with Rait Castle.
Blogger was playing silly 'beggars' all day yesterday for me too.

Old Kitty said...

It sounds like a brilliant place to stay! Amazing Clan resilience though!! Yay! take care


Yes you have come up trumps again Hilary, looks like a brilliant place to visit and stay.

Hope the sun is shinning where you are.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn .. there are probably a lot of these sort of castles - now operating as hotels, as well as bed and breakfast places on their estates.

Your Clan tartan might be in there - one wonders how much was false though .. but your Clan records will be elsewhere safe and sound.

@ Bob - yes hotels and plenty of cottages to rent, or bed and breakfast houses on the estates.

Your Cummings were real Scots - I think mine were normal people wanting to buy the castle and turn it into a hotel - business people. There might be a connection way back when ..

Google Chrome was causing me headaches - but O2 said they had connection problems .. seems ok today so far!!

@ Old Kitty - looks interesting doesn't it, with wonderful grounds. Clan resilience sticking together .. they sure do that.

@ Yvonne - thanks - using this castle-hotel I was able to bring in the bit about the Vestiarium .. that rather took my fancy, as a bit of nonsense, that took in rather a lot of people apparently!

It is freezing here and wet .. though the sun is trying to come through.

Cheers Lynn, Bob, Old Kitty and Yvonne .. have a fun day .. Hilary

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I want to stay there. What a fun experience that would be.


Laura Eno said...

This has been such a wonderful collection! I read them every day though don't often bad!

Jo said...

To me its such a shame that families have had to resort to businesses in one form or another to preserve their homes. However, it is still there which I guess is the best thing after all.

Interesting. Am waiting to see what you do with the remaining letters.

Unknown said...

Ah, I was wondering what you'd give us for V, Hilary. What a fabulous place. I would love to stay there.

Can't wait to see what you conjure up with the remaining letters. :)

Unknown said...

My people are from Scotland. Someday I will visit.


Diane said...

What a lovely place to go and stay. I am pleased that the Cummings had the tax abolished, good for them. Diane

Slamdunk said...

I am enjoying your fantastic historical places that I need to go Hilary. It is as if this series is just for me.

Ha, so thanks.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Teresa .. I'm sure they'd love to have you to stay!

@ Laura - glad you're enjoying them - no worries re commenting I'm trying to get to everyone's blog - then find all the posts are interesting!!

@ Jo - the Castle was going to rack and ruin - and possibly the effects of the War affected the earlier family. So the Cummings did the Castle a huge favour .. especially fighting for the change in law.

Now it's a well loved hotel - even if a group run it .. such is business life ..

ah ah XYZ ... wait and see ..

@ Lucy - I hope you'll get here one day to see your roots ..

@ Diane - lovely place in the Tweeddale Valley - salmon fishing should you so wish.

Yes I was interested that the Cummings pursued the abolition of the tax ..

@ Slamdunk - well that's great news .. and hope one day you'll be able to make use of the information with a visit?

Thanks everyone .. good to see you .. cheers Hilary

Luanne G. Smith said...

Now there's a better idea. I'll go stay in a castle that has been converted to a hotel. And this one is a beauty. It almost looks French to me in style.

PR said...

Excellent post! Not sure I could stay in a castle turned hotel, too many ghosties! :)

Annalisa Crawford said...

The tower in the first picture makes me think of Rapunzel.

Hubby wore the Crawford tartan at our wedding - I hope it was the right one!

Unknown said...

The castle is wonderful. The architecture is superb.

nutschell said...

I'd love to visit there one day. I Think I'll spend most of my time in the library though.

Paula Martin said...

I wondered what you were going to find for V, Hilary. Must confess I'd never heard of this one, but definitely wouldn't mind staying there!

Theresa Milstein said...

Nice "house"! I'd love to stay in a castle. I bet turning it into a hotel is a good way to get people to spend extra time inside of one. I wonder how much of it looks like a castle inside.

Anonymous said...

Very cool to turn a castle into a hotel. I would stay there. If I owned it I would have "themed" rooms from different eras.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary. Another wonderful castle post. I like that the family turned this one into a hotel. And good for them for getting the tax abolished. I would really like to spend some time in that wonderful library.

loverofwords said...

I have a question about the name Cummings; my friends name is Cumming without the "s." Still a Scot, I imagine.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Luanne - a few of the castles have places to stay .. but this one is a proper hotel - the Scots were influenced by the French .. because of their Royal connections ..

@ Anna - oh give it a try .. it'd be fun and I'm sure all would be well .. if you've no husband, I'm sure we can find a lovely man in a kilt to guard the door for you !!

@ Annalisa - have you been reading Teresa's posts on Grim Fairy Tale takes? Rapunzel came up somewhere recently!!

Oh how lovely - I'm sure he knew the right version to wear .. must have been a very romantic day - did you have kilts and bagpipes?

@ Clarissa - it does look stunning doesn't it .. well refurbished.

@ Nutschell - do I hear another English visit forthcoming! Long walks are good for you!! But the Library does have a log fire to sit and read by the afternoons, or evenings ...

@ Paula - oh gosh .. everyone will be bemused by my X ... it looks very well restored and appointed - yes I'd quite like a stop over there! Glad you enjoyed this Castle Hotel.

@ Theresa - yes lots of nice houses called castles .. and after the War was probably a sensible business decision, as people were looking for ways beyond austerity.

It probably looks much the same - altering the fabric of the place would be challenging .. ie the room layout etc would be similar - but I'm sure they'd have altered things for the bedrooms etc

@ Steve - some the Castles have done that - but if your castle is one era - it'd look incongruous .. this one would cover Georgian, Victorian, 1900s and on ...

@ Susanne - the Cummings seemed like they had some 'nous' to get the tax abolished and to then alter it to a hotel.

The library does look superb doesn't it ..

@ A Lover of Words - I've actually no idea --- but under the Wikipedia site for Clan Hay - there's a link to William Comyn (which I think is the early (Norman) name) .. so actually probably French - but she'd have to search for her ancestors! Good to see you though ..

Thanks so much everyone - this looks like a good gathering and watering hole for bloggers united!

Cheers to you all - Hilary

Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Hilary,

I LOVE castles. I fact, I have a tabletop book which is all castles. They're so pretty and it's like each one has a story to tell.

I like how the owners were able to have the tax abolished. Their fight paid off and they ended being able to share their "home" with others for nearly 50. Sweet!

Cheers, Hilary the Historian. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Barbara .. great to see you - and certainly Bob and I have offered a tour of British castles .. I can imagine your book would have amazing photos and descriptions in it.

Picking this hotel-castle gave me the opportunity to bring in clan Scotland, the tartans, fabrication-hocus-pocus with the Vestiarium Scotium .. and then the Hansard parliamentary record - ensuring the castle could continue on ... as a hotel, and many could enjoy the grounds as well as stay the night.

Many thanks - from Hilary the Historian!! Cheers ...

Robyn Campbell said...

There are a lot of castle hotels in Ireland that I want to visit. I want to go to Scotland and England too. :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Robyn .. if there are 2,500 castles we could spend 100 years looking round just castles .. let alone the country and all its other fabulous mansions, monuments and museums!!

Cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shirley .. I just rescued three comments from blogger spam - two were from you -

The hotel-castle does look fascinating and I too would love to have a few days there ..

Now we know what my XYZ posts were on!! Cheers Hilary