The Palace of Seton

Seton Castle Details

Seton House Castle is built on the site of the Palace of Seton which was demolished in 1790 after 75 years of neglect.  The 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.  The castle is a Grade A Listed Castellated late Georgian House Designed by Robert Adam. 

Hall, drawing room, dining room, morning room, sitting room, various halls and lobbies, 2 kitchens, 10 principal bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.  Turret rooms and barrel vaulted reception room.  Adjoining east and west wing cottages with workshop, stabling, storage and garaging.  Extensive gardens and grounds.  About 13.50 acres (5.46 Ha)

Seton House is situated in rural East Lothian, surrounded by fertile arable farmland and just 2 miles from the coast of the Firth of Forth.  Seton House benefits from excellent access but retains a peaceful and private setting amongst mature gardens and grounds.  From the upper floors and the roof, there are superb views over the Firth of Forth and Fife to the north and towards the Lammermuir Hills to the south.  Longniddry (1 mile) and Haddington (5 miles) provide most daily needs including primary and secondary schooling.  Edinburgh city centre is 12 miles away and provides the wide range of services and facilities as would be expected of the capital city of Scotland.  These include excellent private day and boarding schools and a renowned and distinguished university.  Edinburgh Airport (22 miles) offers regular daily flights to London and a number of European destinations.  At Edinburgh and Dunbar, there are railway stations for the east coast mainline to London.

The surrounding countryside provides a wealth of activities.  The theme of golf dominates the locality.  The 2002 Open Championship venue of Muirfield is within a few miles.  Further links courses of great renown include Aberlady, Gullane, Luffness and North Berwick.  In addition to golf, there is a wealth of game shooting available to rent on nearby estates, sailing in the Firth of Forth and walking in the Lammermuirs. 

Seton Castle, near Longniddry in East Lothian, was profiled a few years ago when it was being sold by the Earl of Wemyss for offers above £750,000. The Robert Adam property, set in 13½ acres, was for much of its history, tenanted. As a result it was in quite a dilapidated state when Mary McMillan bought it for £1.25 million in December 2002. All she had to do was use the same interior decorator as the Queen.

Seton Castle is an exquisite example of Adam’s fascination with castle designs, but it had fallen into disrepair and experts had placed the cost of restoration at well in excess of £1 million. Enter Malcolm Duffin. The former head of design at the 200-year-old company Whytock & Reid had created fabric and furnishings for pop stars and the Royal Family — check out what he has done with the downstairs loo at Buckingham Palace next time you are there — and was now in charge of design at the Edinburgh firm Zebrano. He leapt at the opportunity to restore the castle to its former glory.

“A Robert Adam house sets an immediate tone for the scale of the project,” he says. “The highest priority was not to reinvent the wheel but to come up with a design that gave respect to the original architect.” That meant late nights of research and intense study of the Robert Adam archive, rediscovering the dazzling colours and delicate ornaments that Adam liked to employ.

“The design was quite easy,” he says. “We simply stripped the place back to its bare walls and rebuilt, replumbed, rewired it all. Put in central heating, a new kitchen, restored the stonework and designed and rebuilt the extensive parkland.” Easy for him, perhaps.



Seton House is approached via a private driveway which splits in three and terminates in gravel sweeps in front of both wing cottages and the main house.  The house is approached by a gate leading into an enclosed courtyard with two colonnades from which the full extent of the house can be seen.

Ground Floor

Stone steps rise to double doors leading to a decorative part-glazed inner door with a fanlight above opening into the hall. 

Reception Hall (S)   Stone flagged floor, stone staircase with decorative wrought-iron banisters and mahogany handrail to first and garden floors.  Decorative plasterwork including ceiling rose and cornice depicting Doric ox-skulls.  Doors to East and West wings and doors to:

Drawing Room (N) 27'10" x 19'8" (8.48m x 6.00m max)   Bow-ended room with window shutters, open fireplace with brass and blue Chinese tile surround and carved white marble mantle.  Dado rail, bookshelves under the windowsills and arched windows with original glass.  

Ante Room with sliding door opening to double doors leading to a timber staircase to the garden.  Door to:

Dining Room (W) 28'2" x 19'11" (8.59m x 6.08m max)   Double bow ended room.  Magnificent white marble fireplace with cast-iron grate and surround.  Glass cupboard (N & W) with butler's sink and shelves.

Butler's Pantry (W)   Hot cupboard, sink and electric cooker point.

Ante- Room (N)   With glass cupboard and silver cupboard leading to the hall.

Morning Room (N & E) 11'9" x 8'4" (5.11m x 6.14m)   Fireplace with tiled surround and timber mantel.  Door to hall and door to:

Turret Room (N)   Currently a bathroom with alcoved WC, bath and pedestal wash hand basin. 

From the morning room there is a connecting room currently used as a dressing room which leads to the drawing room.  From this room a spiral staircase drops to the lower ground floor.


First Floor

Landing (S)   Used as sitting area with double-arched window.  Open fireplace with Dutch tiled surround and timber mantel.  Ceiling rose.  Door to storage cupboard.

Bedroom 1 (S & E) 20'4" x 15'4" (6.20m x 4.68m)   Fireplace with tiled surround and timber mantel.  Turret cupboard and decorative central ceiling motif.  Door to:

Inner landing with doors to:

Bedroom 2 (N) 11'5" x 12'10" 3.48m x 3.91m)   Fireplace with tiled surround and timber mantel.  Door to strong room.

Bathroom (N & E) 11'5" x 6'11" (3.49m x 2.10m) WC, deep bath and pedestal wash hand basin.

Storage Cupboard - large walk through shelved storage cupboard connecting the inner landing to the main landing.

Master Bedroom (N) 22'8" x 19'10" (6.90m x 6.05m)   Bow ended room with arched windows, open fireplace with cast iron grate and timber mantel.  Decorative ceiling motif.

Bedroom 4 (N & W) 17'1" x 15'9" (5.20m x 4.79m)   Turret wardrobe and door to:

Ensuite bathroom (W) 11'1" x 7'0" (3.39m x 8.8m)   Bath, WC in turret alcove and pedestal wash hand basin.  Door to:

Bedroom 5 (S) 16'11" x 15'9" (5.17m x 4.81m)    Door to walk-in turret wardrobe.  Door to landing.


Second Floor

From the first floor landing, the staircase rises to:

Galleried Landing.  Lit by cupola.  Barrel-vaulted ceiling with two Lion Rampant plaster motifs.  Shelved linen cupboard and hot water tank.  Doors to: 

Bedroom 6 (S) 13'2" x 15'4" (4.02m x 4.68m)   Turret wardrobe and door to:

Ensuite Bathroom (E) 12'8" x 7'1" (3.85m x 2.16m)   Bath, WC, wash hand basin, heated towel rail and electric wall heater.

Bedroom 7 (S) 13'1" x 8'11" (3.99m x 2.72m)   Arched windows and turret cupboard.

Laundry (S) 8'10" x 6'7" (2.69m x 2.00m)   Plumbed for washing machine and access to dumb waiter.

Bedroom 8 (S & W) 17'0"x 15'8" (5.19m x 4.77m)   Turret wardrobe.  Door to:

Bathroom (E)   Bath, WC, wash hand basin, heated towel rail and electric wall heater.  Door to:

Bedroom 9 (N & W) 16'6"x 15'7" (5.04m x 4.75m)   Fireplace with tiled surround and timber mantel.

Sitting room/Bedroom 10 (N & E) 19'5" x 19'10" (5.93 x 6.04m)    Bow-ended room.  Brick fireplace with timber mantel.  Three arched windows with shutters.  Door to:

Kitchen (N & E) 32'1" x 20'5" (9.79m x 6.23m max)   Fitted wall and floor units, stainless steel sink and drainer.  Door to hall.

From the landing, a door opens to a timber staircase leading to loft.  From the loft a door leads to a walkway around the principal roof which is in excellent condition having been totally renovated in the 1980s.

From the entrance hall on the ground floor, a stone staircase leads to:


Lower Ground Floor

Steps lead down to a stone flagged hall.  Doors to:

Wine Cellar   16 brick bins in first chamber leading to a further 12 brick bins.

-    stairs to the west wing

-    under stair cupboard housing dumbwaiter

-    former boiler room 

From the hall, doors lead to

Garden Sitting Room (N) 28'7" x 19'7" (8.71m x 5.98m max)   Bow-ended room with a glass door leading to stone steps to the garden. Open fireplace with cast iron grate and brass surround.  Shelved storage cupboard.  Door to:

Entrance Hall 20'1" x 13'10" (6.12m x 4.24m)   Barrel vaulted ceiling, double part-glazed doors leading to double doors opening to garden.  Door to:

Cloakroom - Timber panelling and separate WC.

From the garden sitting room a door opens to:

Kitchen (N & W)  19'11" x 16'3" (6.06m x 4.94m max)   Recess with chimney suitable for Aga. Dual bowl sink unit, 4-ring electric hob, plumbed for dishwasher. Turret larder. Door to:

Laundry  - ample storage cupboards and hot water tank.


East Wing

From the Reception Hall a door opens to the east wing passage with doors to the gardens and the east wing cottage.  The cottage has independent electricity and heating and is approached by a cobbled courtyard to the east which leads to the front door opening to a hall with doors to:

Sitting Room (N, S & E) 15'8" x 14'8" (4.78m x 4.51m)   Cornice and ceiling rose. Alcove used as a music room.

Kitchen (N) 10'0" x 9'8" (3.03m x 2.95m)   Stainless steel sink unit and drainer.  The kitchen units and cooker belong to the occupant and will be removed prior to completion.

Dining Room (N & W) 15'1" x 9'10" (4.60m x 2.99m)   Oval shaped room with cornice and small cupboard.

From the hall a timber staircase rises to the first floor landing which has doors to:

Bedroom 1 (N & S) 16'1" x 14'9" (4.91m x 4.53m max)   Two walk-in storage cupboards.

Bathroom (N) 10'6" x 10'1" (3.21m x 3.07m)   Bath with electric shower above. Wash hand basin and WC.

Bedroom 2 (N) 16'1" x 15'5" (4.91mx 4.71m max)   Two walk-in storage cupboards.

Bedroom 3 18'2" x 11'10" (5.54m x 3.61m)   Skylight window.

Store Room 1 (W) 14'8" x 12'0" (4/50m x 3.66m)

Store Room 2 (E)  16'0" x 7'5" (4.86m x 2.27m)


Adjoining the cottage and forming two sides of the cobbled courtyard are a range of traditional stables, coach houses and stores comprising the following:

Ground Floor

Stables           3 traditional timber and iron loose boxes

Stable             Single loose box

Gun Room  15'5" x 15'2" (4.69m x 4.63m)

Shuttered windows and door to gardens.

Coach House 32' x 23' (9.9m x 7.0m)

Divided into two garages.


First Floor

A stone spiral staircase reached by an external door rises to three rooms which were formerly the coachman's quarters. The floors are in a poor condition and it is advised that access is not taken.  The coachman's quarters adjoin Store Room 2 and could be connected if required.

West Wing

From the Reception Hall a door leads to the west wing passage with doors to the garden and a staircase to the lower ground hall.  The passage continues to the hall of the west wing cottage and a door leading to the office/studio.

The cottage is approached by a front door in a courtyard which opens to a hall with doors to:

Kitchen (W) 10'9" x 9'3" (3.27m x 2.81m)   Fitted floor and wall units with stainless steel sink unit.

Separate WC (S)

Bedroom 1 (N) 15'1" x 10'4" (4.59m x 3.15m)   Two storage cupboards.  Door to:

Ensuite shower room   Shower and wash hand basin.

From the hall a staircase rises to the first floor landing with door to:

Bedroom 2 (N & S) 15'9" x 13'0" (4.80m x  3.96m)  Concealed wardrobe.

Dressing Room (N) 10'5" x 7'6" (3.18m x 2.29m max)

Bedroom 3 (N) 16'0" x 15'10" (4.87m x  4.81m)   Two shelved cupboards and walk in turret wardrobe.

Bathroom (W) 12'10" x 9'4" (3.92m x 2.85m)   Bath, WC, wash hand basin, shelved cupboard with hot water tank.

From the hall a door opens through to the offices and studio.  The accommodation comprises:


Ground Floor

Store Room 11'6" x 9'5" (3.50m x 2.87m)

Galleried Studio (S) 21'4" x 14'7" (6.50m x 4.46m)   Formerly the kitchen to the house, there remains an old cast iron range in situ.

Wash Room (E) 16'1" x 9'0" (4.90m x 2.74m)

Store Room (S) 10'7" x 10'6" (3.24m x 3.19m)

Studio 2 (S) 16'2" x 12'2" (4.92m x 3.71m)


First Floor

From Studio 1 a timber staircase rises to:

Drawing Office 22'11" x 13'4" (6.99m x 4.07m)  Velux windows.  Door to:

Office (W) 15'3" x 8'8" (4.65m) x 2.65m)   Large velux window.  Door to:

Library (S & E) 15'10" x 14'5" (4.83m x 4.43m)  Stone fireplace and 2 raised windows.

Adjoining the cottage and offices/studios are 2 garages and a stone spiral staircase to the first floor rooms. In addition there is a game larder and store room.


Gardens and Grounds

The gardens and grounds are a real feature of Seton House and provide an appropriate setting to the house.  The drive leading to the house is flanked by the wall of the former kitchen garden and mature trees and opens to large formal lawns to the south of the house.  The lawns are flanked by mature trees.

To the south of the house and enclosed by a stone wall are formal lawns which lead to a walkway onto the stone bridge over the Blindwells burn which is a steep gorge.  The bridge leads to a large open expanse of formal lawns enclosed by a stone wall.  Within this garden are a number of mature fruit trees.

To the north east there is a gorge with mature trees which leads to an overgrown former paddock which could be reinstated if required.  It is understood there used to be a number of bridges crossing the burn at the bottom of the gorge.


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