August 16, 2019
SETON CASTLE BEING SOLD BY ENTREPRENEUR STEPHEN LEACH
Longniddry, East Lothian, EH32 0PG
Robert Adam Masterpiece
Spectacularly restored to create superb family home and
Site of Mary Queen of Scots preferred residence
Place of romance, history, and drama for over eight centuries
Beautiful Georgian interior imbued with designer materials &
Four story mansion house linked to U shaped wings around
Neoclassical Castle by Robert Adam in private grounds close to
About this property
Seton Castle is a fully restored, opulent but welcoming 13
bedroom family home surrounded by 13 acres of private gardens
and parkland. It is the consummate romantic Scottish castle,
updated to a superb standard for modern living.
The castle was built in 1789 by acclaimed architect and designer
Robert Adam using the stone from Seton Palace, described as Mary
Queen of Scots' preferred retreat. Seton Castle was Robert
Adam's final project in Scotland and his light but masterful
touch is in evidence in the beautifully executed ceiling
plasterwork, curved oak panelled doors and dramatic bay windowed
rooms. Castellated features such as slit windows and turrets are
strikingly imposing from the outside but discreetly located in
the numerous turrets thus allowing it to retain the feel of a
grand family home when inside. Secret staircases, curved doors,
curved walls, arched windows and hidden doors add to the
charming sophistication of the architecture and design.
unbroken ownership of Seton Castle by the Wemyss family from the
late 18th century until 2003 served to freeze Seton in a
protective time warp, ensuring the preservation of the elegant
architectural detail created by Adam. Seton has been sensitively
and richly refurbished to fit today's world, including the
installation of a full security system, creation of a state of
the art gym, playroom, huge double AGA kitchen, magnificent
silk-lined dining room, extensive billiard room, traditional
olde world bar, cinema, guest cottages, apartments and helipad.
In addition to the main seven bedroom castle, the estate
includes three separate properties - The Darnley and The
Bothwell are self-contained cottages each with a living room,
kitchen, three bedrooms, bathroom and WC. The Hideaway is a
delightfully romantic suite hidden at the top of a turret spiral
The working stables at Seton have been magnificently refurbished
and include a foaling stable. Adjacent to the stables lies the
generous coach house and the characterful Stable Bar - the
castle's authentic private tavern, situated in the original tack
room of the stable block.
The restoration project has been both exhaustive and faithful to
architectural integrity: a two year long restoration saw a team
of expert stonemasons, stone by stone, and using painstakingly
sourced period sandstone and limestone, rebuild the castle's
many chimneys and turrets as well as the sweeping rooftop
Internally, all services have been renewed, ceilings restored to
their original beauty, the sweeping staircase lovingly
reinvigorated, ironwork magnificently restored, dumbwaiter
reinstated and 10,000-bottle wine cellar spectacularly brought
back to life.
The installation of 17th century French oak flooring, modern
central heating system, entertainment system and security system
all sensitively installed hidden from sight help to give the
home a most welcoming, warm and private appeal.
The castle's interior design offers a successfully eclectic mix
of styles and influences curated by the current owners and
include an array of silks, damasks, silk velvets, embroidered
silks, jacquard velvets, jacquard linens, silk wall hangings,
gilt detailing, with Scottish wools and cashmere adding elegant
and warm touches to every corner.
Castle is simply one of Scotland's most significant and
ravishing buildings, with eight centuries of history. It is
undeniably one of Robert Adam's finest achievements.
Seton is ideally situated within East Lothian, an
historically-rich, green and beautiful part of Scotland. The
Firth of Forth can be seen from the castle's north facing
windows, as can the Forth Rail Bridge, Arthur's Seat and the
city of Edinburgh.
Seton is within 12 miles of Edinburgh via the A1. There is a
picturesque local railway station with regular trains to
Edinburgh taking 20 minutes.
East Lothian is the home of the world's oldest golf club.
Indeed, Mary Queen of Scots is documented as having caused
scandal by playing golf at Seton in 1568 following the death of
her husband Lord Darnley. The open championship course of
Muirfield is a mere 8 mile drive from Seton.
East Lothian has long attracted field and water sports
enthusiasts. The Firth of Forth offers spectacular kite-surfing
while Belhaven Bay is very popular with surfers and there is
sailing and coastal rowing at North Berwick. The region is also
known for driven and walked-up game shooting, notably for
grouse, pheasant and partridge.
The picturesque village of Longniddry, just 1 mile away, serves
the local community with shops, restaurants and other services
including dental and vet's practices.
Seton is ideally located for several of the best schools in
Scotland, including Loretto School, just 4 miles away.
Directions: From Edinburgh take the A1 dual carriageway east.
Leave the dual carriageway at the exit signposted to North
Berwick (A198). Turn right at the roundabout continuing on the
A198 towards Longniddry. Seton Castle is set in the trees on the
left hand side after about 1 mile.
EPC Rating = E
A Scottish Castle in Perfect Condition Is On Sale for $9.7
Seton Castle, a country house designed by famed architect Robert
Adam, has just hit the market.
By James Tarmy
August 19, 2019, 3:00 AM EDT
also, the article on the previous sale from
SETON CASTLE SOLD TO
INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR STEPHEN LEACH
years on the market by the McMillans, the former Seton Estate
was sold to Stephen Leach for 5 million pounds in 2007.
By the time Stephen Leach and his family bought Seton Castle in
East Lothian, Scotland in 2007, the property was at the tail end
of nearly 800 years of aristocratic occupancy.
Originally the site of Seton Palace, the Renaissance structure
played host to Mary Queen of Scots, who reportedly played golf
on the palace grounds. But after the Jacobite rebellion, the
building fell into disrepair. In the late 18th century,
Alexander MacKenzie bought the property and hired the famous
architect Robert Adam to build a new mansion. To do so, the
palace was razed and its stones were repurposed in Adam’s new
Mackenzie died a few years after it was completed, at which
point the “castle,” set directly on the palace’s site, was
acquired by the noble Wemyss family, which then held onto it for
more than two centuries. It was sold in 2003 to a developer who
updated the property and put it back on the market.
When Leach moved in, he and his family were able to occupy a
home built with stones that had been cut at the same time Dante
was writing the Divine Comedy.
“We were looking for something of substance,” says Leach, a tech
entrepreneur who started a series of companies with his wife
Heather. “But before we bought it, if you told my wife or myself
that we were going to own a castle, it’s pretty unlikely that we
would have agreed with you.” After touring the house, “we fell
in love with the place,” Leach says, and bought it for a
reported £5 million (then about $10 million).
Twelve years later, the family has put it on the market for £8
million ($9.7 million), listing it with Savills. “We’re spending
less and less time there,” Leach says. “It’s time to move on.”
Because the house had stayed with the same owners since its
construction, it was still something of a time capsule when
Leach purchased it.
“We’re very lucky that the building was in the same family for
200 years,” he says. “It really has been unmolested.”
Adam, an architect credited with bringing neoclassicism to
English country houses, designed the house inside and out, and
many of his decorative elements are still in place.
In the dining room, for instance, are still centuries-old silk
wall coverings. All of the fireplaces are Adam originals which,
due to their value, is highly unusual, Leach says. “When you
have a fireplace that’s worth more than the average two-bedroom
flat, it’s difficult to justify having them in your living room.
So that’s a credit to the previous owners.”
The doors are also original, as are the 18th century leaded
glass window panes.
Nevertheless, after buying the home, Leach began a low-impact
series of subtle renovations. He added a security system, wired
the home for high-speed internet, changed the heating system,
and restored plaster ornamentation.
“When we first purchased the property, we got a couple of very
good stonemasons that were used to working with historic
buildings,” Leach says. “They worked full-time for us for three
years. We didn’t quite appreciate how much effort was going to
The result of those efforts is a nearly pristine,
18,196-square-foot mansion with seven bedrooms. (Three separate
dwellings, including two stand-alone cottages, bring the
property’s bedroom count to 13.)
Even though the house is designed to look like an old Scottish
castle, “internally, it looks like a stately home,” Leach says.
“It’s very sumptuous, and it’s very spacious.”
Visitors enter through a large, enclosed courtyard, which is
flanked by two wings. The majority of entertaining rooms are in
the main building; the dining, drawing, and morning rooms occupy
most of the ground floor. The east wing has stables, a bar
decorated to look like a traditional pub, a cinema room, and a
three-bedroom detached apartment; the west wing, in turn, has an
additional three bedrooms, a gym, and living areas.
There’s also something Leach calls a “hideaway,” where “if you
go up a very small staircase, you’ll find yourself in a discreet
little double bedroom with an en-suite bath and skylight,” he
says. “You can see the stars.”
The house itself has a substantial footprint. “I think we were
probably in the property for a month before we discovered an
additional room we didn’t know we had,” Leach says. Because the
house is divided into wings, “we like that we could close down a
wing if there was no use for it.”
For such a large house, the size of its land— 13.5 acres— is
comparatively modest, which Leach says was another major selling
point. “We weren’t interested in a 500-acre estate that required
an army to manage,” he says. “We didn’t want to deal with that,
but we did want enough land and grounds to have a security
threshold around us, and so 13 acres was perfect.”
The house is surrounded by fields, paddocks, lawns, and gardens.
It has views that stretch to Edinburgh, which is about a
20-minute drive away. There’s also a small village called
Longniddry a mile away.
Two of Leach’s four children have moved out of the house, and
the others spend more time in Edinburgh, where the family has a
townhouse. As a consequence, he says, “the time we’ve been
spending in the castle is less and less.” They have other houses
around the world, he says, “and there’s only so many places you