Thirlestane Castle - Lauder | Historic Houses | Britain's Finest
See All (8)
Visit Website

Thirlestane Castle

Historic House

Thirlestane Castle is one of the oldest and finest inhabited castles in Scotland. The 16th-century building with its distinctive rose-pink stone and fairy tale turrets is surrounded by parkland. Visitors can explore the grand State Rooms and walk along the River Leader in the grounds. There is a tea room and gift shop.

Where is Thirlestane Castle located?

Thirlestane Castle is located on the edge of the charming town of Lauder, around 35-minutes south of Edinburgh. The castle is signposted off the main A68 route south.

What is the history of Thirlestane Castle to the present day?

Originally built as a great stone keep in 1590 by John Maitland, Thirlestane Castle is the historic seat of the Earls and Duke of Lauderdale. Known as the 'Uncrowned King of Scotland', the Duke of Lauderdale was Secretary of State for Scotland under Charles II and a member of his 'CABAL'. He transformed the castle into a palace during the 1670s with the help of renowned architect Sir William Bruce. By the 19th Century, the Maitlands needed additional space to entertain with the castle now forming a centre piece to a large country estate. The two side wings were added by architects David Bryce and William Burn in the 1840s. During the First World War the castle was used as a hospital for recovering officers and girl's school St Hilary's relocated to the castle during the Second World War. The castle is now owned by a Charitable Trust and every penny from admissions, events and the accommodation goes into making sure this historic building and its collections can be enjoyed for generations to come.

What is there to see and do at Thirlestane Castle?

While touring the main State Rooms, visitors can marvel at the ornate 17th-century plasterwork ceilings by George Dunsterfield, the same craftsman that was employed at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. In the magnificent State Dining Room, they can examine one of the largest collections of family portraits in the country featuring the work of famous artists such as Romney, Scougal and Reynolds. The castle also has a large collection of historic toys from the Edwardian, Victorian and Georgian periods that visitors can explore. Pick up a "wee mindin" to take home from the castle Gift Shop and enjoy a stroll around the castle grounds.


New for 2021 - Afternoon Tea Experiences

Enjoy Afternoon Tea or Sparkling Afternoon Tea in the castle’s atmospheric Victorian Kitchen with its original 19th-century range oven and views of the Rose Garden. The menu - shaped by a local award-winning brasserie, Firebrick - consists of a selection of finger sandwiches made using homemade bread and locally sourced ingredients for the fillings, and a selection of mouthwatering sweet treats including a Scottish berry fruit tart, a fondant fancy, chocolate éclair and a scone.


Open Air Theatre Events 2021

Sunday 18 July 2021, 6pm - Macbeth - visit the Thirlestane Castle website for more informaiton and to book tickets.
Thursday 26 August 2021, 6pm - Alice in Wonderland - visit the Thirlestane Castle website for more information and to book tickets.

Other Information

As well as a visitor attraction, Thirlestane also offers 5-star holiday accommodation. Visitors can extend their time in the beautiful Scottish Borders by staying in one of the five apartments situated within the South Wing of the castle. Thirlestane Castle is also a stunning events venue with a variety of both elegant and rustic spaces available.

Top facilities

Parking Available

Guided Tours

Facilities & information


16th century buildings

Art and sculpture

Guided tours

Gift shop

Woodland walks

Free car parking (on site)


Electric Vehicle Charging



Guided Tours

Parking Available



Picnic area

Extra info

Closed Times: Monday

Nearest Airport: Edinburgh

Nearest Airport Time: 50 minutes

Open Times: 2021 Season: Tuesdays - Sundays (10:30 & 14:30)

Price Details: Adults £15.00, Children £5.00, Concessions £12.50, Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £35.00, Groups (10+) £10.50.

Arrival information and directions

Address: Thirlestane Castle, Lauder, Scottish Borders, LauderTD2 6RU, United Kingdom

27 miles south of Edinburgh, signposted off the A68 at Lauder.

This website uses cookies. Click here to read our Privacy Policy.
If that’s okay with you, just keep browsing. CLOSE