A Visit To Traquair House

April 23, 2013

Recently we were on holiday in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. While we were there we went on several day trips and one of these was a visit to Traquair House. Traquair House is described as Scotland’s oldest inhabited house and promised plenty to see. As well as the house, there is a maze on the grounds, a cafe and craft workshops. It sounded like an interesting day for all the family.

Traquair House is situated near Peebles, which was a bit of a drive from where we were staying. It took about an hour to get there.  The car park is situated next to the 1745 Tearoom and the craft workshops. The first thing we did was go and get some lunch before we explored. .

Traquair House

The menu was full of home cooking and it was difficult to choose what to have. In the end my son and I decided to have a Jacobite Burger, which was a lamb and mint burger flavoured with cheese and served with Traquair Ale Pickle. My husband decided on a steak hot pot. The meals came quickly and they were delicious. There was a relaxed atmosphere in the cafe and we did not feel rushed.

After lunch we made our way down the long driveway towards the house.
Traquair house

There was still a touch of snow on the ground. I saw a squirrel dashing off into the trees quickly as we wandered along. The house was hidden behind trees at first but we soon saw it in all its glory.
Traquair house

There are several sections, on the left is the gift shop and brewery shop as well as the Chapel. On the right is a dining room and the main house is straight ahead. We were not allowed to take photographs inside.

Traquair House

Traquair House was used as a hunting lodge in the 1500’s and was visited by many Royal hunting parties. It seems hard to imagine now but the house used to be in the middle of a forest and people came to hunt wild cat, wolves, deer, wild boar and bears. I can’t imagine running into a bear in the middle of Scotland now.

The inside of the house is absolutely fascinating. There are three floors. On  the ground floor you can find the cellars, one of which is set out like a dungeon. The second two floors are accessed by very winding stone stairs. Rooms of particular interest to me were the fabulous library, which took up two rooms. The first one had been filled and the second room needed to be utilised. With floor to ceiling shelves and comfy chairs for reading in, I would love rooms like this in my house.

I also was fascinated by the room with a selection of toys, there were china dolls and a fabulous dolls house which had a small King Charles Spaniel in one the rooms (which my dog would have loved). The bedrooms were interesting as well, one of which was meant to have been used by Mary Queen of Scots and there was a small cradle beside the bed. As you walked round the walls were full of interesting photographs and paintings giving a feel of what it must have been like to live in the house in the old days.

Traquair House has a Catholic tradition. This was evident in the chapel and on the top floor of the house was a small room for the priest. There were hiding places in the house for the priests possessions. The priest’s room had a secret escape tunnel behind a cupboard so he could make a quick getaway. The steps did look very steep so I hope he did not have to rush down them.

You get a good view of the house from the back garden.
Traquair house

You also find the entrance to the maze in the gardens. My son and his cousins were very excited to visit the maze and soon disappeared from sight. We spent a little time reading about it and found out that the maze has four sub-centres that need to be reached before you can find the middle.

Traquair maze

The maze is quite large as you can see from this view.

Traquier maze

As you enter the maze on the left hand side is a small gate labelled fools exit. This is a short cut to help you to get out. The hedges on either side are quite high and you can’t see round the corners.
Traquiar maze

We had great fun finding our way around the maze and did eventually find the middle. The kids were perched on the logs in the centre looking very smug as they had got there first. They were also completely covered in mud so I suspect they had been rolling around on the ground.

On the way out we visited the gift shop and the brewery shop. Traquair House has it’s own brewery which was originally set up in the 18th Century and revived in more recent years. You can peep into part of the brewery at the back of the house. The brewery shop makes fascinating visiting, you get a small sample of each of the three different ales that are produced on site and told about the history behind them.

On the way out we walked up the avenue to see the Bear Gates. These were installed as the main entrance into Traquair House in 1738. They were in use for six years but the after Bonnie Prince Charlie visited the Earl of Traquair closed them, vowing never to open them again until a Stuart king was on the throne in London. They have been closed till this day but are well worth a look.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Traquair House, there is plenty to see and it appealed to all the family.  You will need plenty of time to visit, we were there for several hours and didn’t visit the craft workshops. You can find more information on their website.

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