History in Structure

Balmoral Castle With Parterre And Terrace Walls

A Category A Listed Building in Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.0407 / 57°2'26"N

Longitude: -3.2301 / 3°13'48"W

OS Eastings: 325451

OS Northings: 795074

OS Grid: NO254950

Mapcode National: GBR W6.BKDH

Mapcode Global: WH6MC.C92C

Plus Code: 9C9R2QR9+7W

Entry Name: Balmoral Castle With Parterre And Terrace Walls

Listing Name: Balmoral Castle with Parterre and Terrace Walls

Listing Date: 12 March 2010

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400392

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51460

Building Class: Cultural

Also known as: Balmoral

ID on this website: 200400392

Location: Crathie and Braemar

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Parish: Crathie And Braemar

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Tagged with: Museum Château Garden Scottish Baronial architecture Estate Country house

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William Smith, under direction of Prince Albert, 1852-6. Formal gardens, 1855-9. Quadrangular main house with dominant clock tower block to E, clock by Frederick Dent of London installed 1856, partly screening kitchen court set in diagonal plan arrangement at lower level to NE. Composite, baronial, Tudor-Jacobean style of English and Scottish derivation. Granite ashlar-faced throughout on external elevations (quarried from Canup Hill, Glen Gelder); slated roofs (Foudland slates).

Main block:


Quadrangular, irregular plan approx 120' E-W and 113' N-S, single pile ranges with corridors to courtyard side, enclosed parterres to E and W, raised on terrace over sunken garden in fall of ground to N.

W range: 2-storey, consisting of (S-N) entrance hall with southern porte cochère, library, drawing room and billiard room with dressing room, main bedroom, sitting room and prince's dressing room at 1st floor above; gallery on courtyard side with rectangular dog-leg grand staircase projecting into centre of court.

N range: mainly 2-storey, continuation of principal apartments at ground floor level comprising ante room at N end of gallery, dining room and prince's apartments at 1st floor above; eastern section 3-storey range of service accommodation set back from main elevation, corridors on courtyard side throughout.

S range: 3-storey, similarly arranged with secondary rectangular scale and platt stair projecting into NE and SE angles of court.


S (entrance) elevation: main 3-storey, symmetrical 7-bay range with timber mullioned and transomed windows of 3-2-3-2-3-2-3 lights, upper floors of 3rd and 5th bays corbelled out and rising into gablets, 1st and 7th bays rise into dormerheads; roof divided into 3 sections by crowstepped chimney gables. Asymmetrical treatment at ends, western entrance bay gable end of 2-storeyed western elevation and consistent in treatment with it, single 2-light window at 1st floor, crowstepped gable with slit windows set on corbel table linking circular angle turrets; single storey porte cochère projects with semi-elliptical carriage arches on E and W faces, semicircular arch on S face, octagonal angles with crosslets, heavily corbelled and crenellated parapet. Eastern angle tower 5 stages, 3 square stages with single light windows, broached to octagonal 4th stage with crosslets, set back 5th stage with ogee roof rising from within crenellated parapet.

W elevation: 2-storey, main (northern 3/4s) frontage, shallow E-plan, symmetrically treated except for circular NW angle tower of 3 stages; central drawing room section recessed, canted bay of 1-3-1 lights with sculptural reliefs at spandrels and ball-finialled balustraded parapet, flanking bays of 2-light windows with crenellated parapets' library and billiard room sections project as gable fronts with 1, 3-light window on each floor, circular angle turrets, corbelling of which continues across wall face and is stepped over 1st floor windows. S entrance hall section comprises 2, 2-light windows at ground floor with corbelled oriel of dressing room above.

N elevation: frontage of principal apartments 2-storey, 5-bay with corbelled chimneybreast adjacent to NW tower. 2-light windows except at 4th bay from W, canted bay of 1-3-1 lights with corbelled parapet and concave roof; balustraded balcony at 1st floor, 2nd bay from W, sheltering garden entrance at N end of gallery. 3-storey eastern section, 2 bays of 2-light windows, dormerheads at 2nd floor level, gabled square angle turret corbelled out on diagonal at NE angle.

E elevation: 3-storey, crowstepped gable end of S range set back from SE tower, 1,2-light window each floor; remainder 5 bays, similar treatment to 5 central bays on S elevation, N gable masked by service wing link to Great Tower.

East wing and Great Tower:

East wing: 2-storey, 5-bay, comprising corridors and service accommodation, depressed pointed-arch headed windows ground floor, semicircular dormerhead parapets with truncated armorial panels and ball-finials at 1st floor.

Great Tower: approx 35' square and 80' high with circular NE stair tower rising to 100' with balustraded parapet. 5 stages, angles rounded at upper stages; lowest stage of hammer-dressed rustication with segment-headed windows, panel of Royal Arms of Scotland over centre window S face, impressive hoodmoulded doorpiece for servant and luggage with further armorial panel centre of E face; lower floors originally comprised pages' apartments, 2 windows each stage 1st and 2nd floors, 1 segment-headed window with balustraded balcony S face, 1 plain window with balcony N face, 3 windows W face and 2 windows E face 3rd floor level; clock stage 4th floor level; circular angle turrets with conical roofs corbelled from mid-way clock stage at NW, SW and SE angles, enclosing crenellated parapets over deep dummy machicolation.

Small-paned sash windows throughout, 8-lying-panes at link block, 12-pane at Great Tower.


Detached (except for later service link) from main castle, at lower (kitchen court) level, overlooking sunk N garden. Orangery-like, 5-bay rectangle, approx 74' x 31', 68' x 25' internally, externally of hammer-dressed masonry with ashlar crenellated parapet. 4-centre-arched windows with Y-tracery and transoms, sculptured relief panel centre of parapet. Dais recess on E side breaking on to kitchen, orchestra gallery at S end.

Associated garden lay-out: 1855-1859.

Western parterre: enclosed by dwarf wall, ball-finialled die blocks at gates and angles, decorative iron gates, central basin (see listing of roe deer statue), balustraded stairway of two flight to sunk garden on N.

Eastern parterre: enclosed by dwarf wall, concave footgate approaches S and E, concave SE angle; large octagonal urns at entrance gate die blocks, small finials at angle die blocks (see listing of chamois deer). Basin at centre (see listing of putto fountain). Now turfed over as lawn.

N terrace: retaining wall with pilaster strips, corbelled wallheads between bearing low plain parapet, basin at central bay. Terrace stairs.

Kitchen and service court:

Planned around courtyard approx 67' x 46', irregular elevations, E range projects to N and S of remainder and returns eastwards at both ends to form shallow forecourt. Rough ashlar.

S range 2-storey and basement with railed area; 2-storey, stepping downwards to E in fall of ground dormerheads at higher western section only; crowstepped gable of E range projects between higher and lower sections. E range originally symmetrically planned, subsequently redesigned and enlarged, mainly 2-storey with 3-storey block at S end; central bays symmetrical, broad angled entrance bay with 4-centred-arch, narrow flanking bays with dormerheads. N range 3-storey and basement, servants' barracks with servants' hall , plain wallheads. W range central kitchen flanked by scullery and pantries, simple Scots vernacular treatment throughout with sash windows, predominantly 12- and 9-pane.

Statement of Interest

A Group with Chamois Deer Statue, Putto Fountain on Eastern Parterre, Roe Deer Statue, Shell Drinking Fountain in Sunken Garden and the Statue of Florentine Boar.

The decision to build a new castle was first mooted in 1851, final designs dating from September 1852 onwards when the estate was acquired; work began in spring 1853, the formal laying of foundation stone was on 28 September that year. The Castle is built with fireproof floors comprised of malleable iron beam joists, following Fox and Barrett's patent (see Builder April 2 1853). The contractors were James Beaton for the mason work, Robert Watson for the woodwork, Bowman and Co for the blacksmiths work; Blaikie and Son executed the plumbing, Innes the slatework; McHardy carried out bell-hanging and associated work; and M Stuart was the builder. Thomas Cubitt of London was responsible for the hot and cold baths. The sculpture was in the hands of John Thomas, the main items being: the Royal Arms at the main entrance; the Royal Arms of Scotland on the Great Tower; bas reliefs panels of St Andrew of Scotland, St George of England and St Hubert, patron saint of hunters at the drawing room bay; and King Malcolm presiding over the Braemar Games. In 1887 the Royal Stained Glass Works at Old Windsor was making windows (by J B Westropp) with an oak leaf border and thistles for the Service Room.

The conservative baronial idiom of the new castle, 1830s rather than 1850s, consciously recalled that of the previous castle, enlarged 1834-38 for its tenant Sir Robert Gordon by John Smith (William's father, who died 22 July 1852 when the new castle was still at sketch plan stage) as does its profile, the Great Tower being an enlarged and elaborated echo of the 16th century tower house which was the dominant element of the old. Other details are drawn from earlier Smith houses, notably Candacraig (1835, damaged by fire but much of Smith's work retained), Banchory (1839, burned) and particularly Forglen (1839-42), all built in the Scots Tudor-Jacobean idiom which Smith had developed from his association with William Burn's schemes for Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen and Fintray and Auchmacoy Houses in 1827-31. The plan of the new castle incorporates elements of the scheme for the enlargement of the old castle made by John and William Smith in 1848 (of which the kitchen court was executed in 1848-9) but the plan of the main block is much closer in general arrangement to that of Forglen, where the principal apartments are at 1st floor level and late classical in treatment apart from the entrance hall which is neo-Jacobean.

Robert Kerr comments on the diagonal arrangement of house and offices to enable all 4 fronts of the main house to be made fully available for prospect as at Toddington, although this is also a feature of many of William Burn's plans. Delia Millar's publication provides good contemporary illustrations of both the new and the old castles, showing Smith's interiors as they existed in the 1850s with mixed classical and Tudor features.

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