The Palace of Seton

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Seton House Castle
Seton House Castle, Designed by Robert Adam and built between 1789 and 1790, Seton Castle © 2005

Formerly owned by the Earl of Wemyss, once occupied by the Stevenson family of Prestonfield House.  Built by Alexander MacKenzie and designed by Robert Adam circa. 1790.

Seton House Castle is built on the site of the Palace of Seton, which formerly belonged to the Earls of Winton, and which was demolished in 1789 after 75 years of neglect. The estate of Winton included the barony and burgh of Tranent until the last Earl, George Seton, fifth Earl of Winton, lost his titles and estates for participating in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. Winton was condemned to death but managed to escape the Tower of London, living the rest of his life in Rome where he died in 1749 as a member of Chevaliers’ Cabinet. The old Palace was often regarded as the most desirable Scottish residence of the 16th and 17th centuries and was frequently visited by royalty including Mary Queen of Scots, James VI and Charles I.

By the 1790's the Palace was a ruin, and the site in the hands of Lt Col Alexander Mackenzie of the 21st Dragoons, eldest son of Alexander MacKenzie of Portmore, Peebleshire. He was a young man in his early twenties when he commissioned the design, though he would not live long to enjoy his new house as he died five years later in 1796, at which point the Earl of Wemyss acquired the estate.

Robert Adam was commissioned to design Seton Castle in the summer of 1789. By December the design was at the stage of working drawings and the building contract was awarded to the builder Thomas Russell and was constructed between 12 November 1789 and the summer of 1791.  John Patterson, Robert Adam's Clerk of Works in Scotland, (later to become a competent architect in his own right) reported to Adam in a letter of 26 April 1790 that the old building had been demolished and cleared.  Of course the demolition of Seton Palace provided a ready supply of stone and extensive use was made of this.  Robert Adam, on his last visit to Scotland before his death, dined with his client in the new house on 11 June 1791.

The "new" Castle is a Grade A Listed Castellated late Georgian House, one of the most striking of Robert Adam's late houses in the castle style, it is made up of various shaped towers around a curved wall enclosing the courtyard which is entered by a central archway.

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     Seton Castle History
     Seton Castle Details
     Design Notes
     General Design
     Courtyard & Details
     More Stone Details
     Castle Commentary
     Sale of Seton Castle
     Restoration Details
     Castle Gallery
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     The Seton Estate Map
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