Ayton Castle

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Ayton Castle


Ayton Castle - geograph.org.uk - 813849.jpg
Ayton Castle
Location: 55°50’44"N, 2°6’53"W
Village: Ayton
Built 1851 and later
Website: aytoncastle.co.uk

Ayton Castle is found to the east of Ayton in Berwickshire, six miles north-west of Berwick upon Tweed. Built around a mediæval tower house, the present castle dates largely from the 19th century. Ayton Castle is the caput of the feudal barony of Ayton.

The castle is protected as a category A listed building,[1] and the grounds are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.[2]


The original castle, a peel tower, had once been a stronghold of the Home family. This castle was captured by the English in 1497, and the nearby church was the scene of the subsequent negotiation of the treaty of Ayton, signed on 30 September 1497. The tower was replaced by a classical mansion, which burnt down in 1834.[3]

In 1778 the estate was purchased by William Mitchell, who was chief cashier of the Royal Bank of Scotland from 1808 to 1827. Mitchell had been born at Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire. After inheriting the Stow estates from a distant cousin, he hyphenated his surname to become William Mitchell-Innes.

Ayton Castle and grounds

In 1851 William Mitchell-Innes commissioned James Gillespie Graham to build a new castle at Ayton in the Scots Baronial style in red sandstone. In 1860 architect David Bryce extended the drawing room and added a billiard room, with further additions in 1864-7 by James Maitland Wardrop. Extensive interior redecoration was carried out in 1875 by Bonnar & Carfrae, still largely extant, with stencilled imitation silk damask. In addition to the elaborate offices and stables block, all in red sandstone, Ayton Castle boasts a beehive type sixteenth century dovecote, restored in 1745 and 2015, and a magnificent South Lodge in Scots Baronial with archway and screen walls in red sandstone. In 1873, the writer Mark Twain visited the house and he insisted on buying the Dining Room fireplace mantel; it is now in the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, having been repaired and moved there after a fire that destroyed Twain's Stormfield villa where it had been installed.[4] The present castle fireplace dates from that occurrence.

Following William Mitchell-Innes's death at the castle in January 1860, the castle passed to his eldest son and heir, Alexander Mitchell-Innes of Ayton and Whitehall (near Chirnside) (1811–1886), a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for Berwickshire. He continued the family's building works at Ayton by commissioning James Maitland Wardrop to build a new parish church with a 120-foot spire, and stained glass windows.

In 1895 Alexander Mitchell-Innes sold the barony of Ayton, its castle and lands, for £90,000 to Henry Liddell-Grainger of Middleton Hall, Northumberland (1856–1905). The Mitchell-Innes family retained Millbank House and grounds, not far from the castle, as well as the now-derelict Whitehall Manor, near Chirnside.

Lady Christine de la Rue, widow of David Liddell-Grainger, sold the castle in 2014.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ayton Castle)


  1. Ayton Castle: Listed Building Report (Historic Scotland)
  2. "Ayton Castle". Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland. Historic Scotland. http://data.historic-scotland.gov.uk/pls/htmldb/f?p=2400:15:0::::GARDEN:GDL00033. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  3. CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Ayton Castle
  4. https://journals.ku.edu/index.php/amerstud/article/viewFile/2119/2078 Pearson, Norman, "The Mark Twain Memorial in Hartford, Connecticut," American Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2: Fall 1960. Retrieved 2014-05-14.