Lennoxlove House

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Lennoxlove House
East Lothian
Lennoxlove House - geograph.org.uk - 37990.jpg
Lennoxlove, with the original tower of Lethington before
Location: 55°56’20"N, 2°46’40"W
Country house
Owned by: The Duke of Hamilton

Lennoxlove House is a historic house set in woodlands half a mile south of Haddington in East Lothian. The house comprises a 15th-century tower, originally known as Lethington Castle, and has been extended several times, principally in the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries.

The house is protected as a category A listed building, and is described by Historic Scotland as "one of Scotland's most ancient and notable houses."[1] The wooded estate is included on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.[2]


The lands of Lethington were acquired by Robert Maitland of Thirlestane in 1345. The Maitland family constructed the earliest part of the building, the L-plan tower house at the south-west of the building.[1] Mary of Guise stayed at Lethington in 1548 when she came to see Haddington with Piero Strozzi. The following year it was burned by the soldiers of King Edward VI who were then occupying Haddington.

Prominent members of the Maitland family included the poet Richard Maitland (1496–1586), his son William Maitland of Lethington (1525–1573), Secretary of State to Mary, Queen of Scots, and his son James Maitland of Lethington (b.1568). It was then acquired by his uncle, John Maitland, 1st Lord Maitland of Thirlestane (1537–1595), it was said in an underhanded manner. Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet, writing in the seventeenth century, commented thus: "Yet the conquest he made of the barony of Liddington [Lethington] from his brother's son, James Maitland, was not thought lawful nor conscientious." James Maitland had become a Roman Catholic and was obliged to leave Scotland. The coach house was built around 1676, to designs by Sir William Bruce.[1] Lethington remained in the Maitland family until after the death of John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale in 1682.


South façade of Lennoxlove House

The property was purchased by the trustees of Frances Teresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox following her death in 1702 for the benefit of her "neare and deare kinsman the said Walter Stuart". Walter Stuart was the eldest son of Alexander, 5th Lord Blantyre, and was to become the 6th Lord Blantyre on the death of his father in 1704. The Duchess had stipulated that the property be called "Lennox's Love to Blantyre"; this was subsequently shortened to Lennoxlove.

The house remained in the ownership of the Blantyre-Stewarts for almost two centuries. When the 12th Lord Blantyre died in 1900 without male heirs, the property passed into the ownership of his daughter, Ellen Stewart, and her husband Sir David Baird, 3rd Baronet of Newbyth, Prestonkirk. Their younger son, Major William Baird, commissioned the architect Sir Robert Lorimer to oversee extensive refurbishment of the house in 1912.

Lennoxlove is now the seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, having been purchased by the 14th Duke in 1946. It is opened to the public during the summer, accommodates corporate events and weddings, and can be rented privately by groups.

Lennoxlove Book Festival

The Lennoxlove Book Festival was started in November 2009, and it is being continued in November 2010.

Art collection

Lennoxlove is home to one of the most important collections of portraits in the north, including works by Anthony van Dyck, Canaletto, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller, Sir Henry Raeburn, and others.

The house also houses important pieces of furniture, porcelain and other fine artefacts, many of which came from the now demolished Hamilton Palace in Lanarkshire. The collections include the Boulle cabinet given to the Duchess by King Charles II and a silver jewellery box that belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots, that purportedly held the Casket letters showing her complicity in the murder of Lord Darnley, together with her death mask. There is also the map and compass carried by Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler's deputy, who flew to Britain in 1941 on a mission to involve the 14th Duke of Hamilton in helping negotiate peace between Britain and Germany.

Outside links