Living Like a Laird at Brodie Castle

by Keith Savage · 13 comments


Brodie Castle in Moray

I puffed for air as we crested the steps to the third floor and looked at my watch as Mhaire recalled the history of yet another room in the Laird’s Apartments. We were on minute number 20 of the tour and there was still a full floor to explore. The sheer size and royal opulence of the place batted giddy smiles and anxious creases across my face. The apartment could easily house 15 people. But not tonight. No, tonight this wing of Brodie Castle in northeast Scotland was mine. All mine. Just mine.

It was my chance to live like a Scottish laird.

It’s not exactly common knowledge that several famous castles around Scotland dedicate a portion of the properties to vacation rentals. After the death of Ninian Brodie, the Brodie of Brodie, in 2003, the National Trust for Scotland transformed the family wing of the castle, the so-called Laird’s Apartments, into a vacation rental. The rest of the castle remains a worthy day out with remarkable daffodil gardens, loads of fine paintings, and an exceptionally well-preserved keep.

Mhaire wrapped up the tour of my “apartments” before leaving me in the landing with Rene, the mastermind of my best holiday in the world week and reason for this amazing opportunity to stay in a castle. We made plans for dinner that night and then he was gone, the door shutting behind him with the finality of an iron portcullis. I drifted through the halls like some specter from a bygone era and planted myself firmly in the one room with wifi. I looked out the window at the empty grounds and sat silently for a few minutes.

I was the only person in the enormous apartment, maybe the entire castle. Brodie Castle hadn’t even opened for the season yet.

It was also, I must admit, more than a little spooky. Thankfully, it was time for dinner.

Later, as darkness fell, I perused my abode’s rooms: three floors, seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, two massive living rooms, two kitchens, a dining room, an office, and some doors with god knows what behind them. Every castle seems to have a ghost story or two, but I hadn’t heard any about Brodie and I wanted to keep it that way. I returned to the office where a case of restless leg syndrome assaulted me as I did some work. I plodded on, a guilt growing inside me for not using all of the space afforded to me.

Then, something thumped several floors below me. Was it the laundry? The “house” settling? Something pressing against the door that separated the apartments from the main castle? Goosebumps rippled over my arms. I grabbed the car keys and dashed down the central stairs and through the hall as portraits of Brodies stared at me. Gravel grumbled beneath my tires as I left behind the imposing visage of Brodie Castle in the near dark.

I sped to Forres and stopped at a petrol station. Inside the convenience store I gathered provisions for breakfast and a flask of Famous Grouse whisky. A few good self-inflicted slaps later and I was on my way back to Brodie Castle. Its battlements were floodlit like a devilish child holding a flashlight beneath his chin on Halloween.

I ventured inside to the prep room where I poured myself a dram of the Grouse. Then I poured myself another dram. I would not be cowed by this vast, gorgeous, and largely unpeopled castle! For much of the time, I gleefully drafted emails to recent acquaintances asking if they’d like to party at my personal castle and devised defensible positions in the event of a siege. I then shot a rough episode of Cribs that you can view below before steepling my fingers and issuing decrees to my invisible subjects from the top of the third floor stairs. These tactics kept me from Googling “Brodie Castle ghosts” and thinking too hard about what lay behind the door next to my bed in the laird’s room.

Waking up the next morning was wonderful. I was on a tight schedule and needed to leave quickly, but not before I had a chance to appreciate what an amazing experience it had been staying the night in Brodie Castle. It wouldn’t be a proper castle stay without a little spookiness, right? All I needed were a few more people to enjoy the place with me. If you’re looking for a memorable and opulent castle stay in a romantic setting – and have a large group of people – look no further than Brodie Castle.

Have you been to Brodie Castle or stayed in a Scottish castle?


Nomadic SamuelNo Gravatar July 7, 2011 at 8:42 AM

I can see why staying overnight in this castle would have ranked highly as an experience not to be forgotten anytime soon. I’m impressed with your photos – a nice touch compliment to the descriptive writing. I can’t blame you for thinking about ghosts. I probably watched too much Scooby Doo as a child & would have had similar ideas ๐Ÿ˜›

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 7, 2011 at 9:23 AM

Scooby Doo – same here. I also have the ability to terrify myself with supreme ease.

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Lori - The Unframed WorldNo Gravatar July 7, 2011 at 2:10 AM

I don’t blame you for being nervous. Sounds like the ideal setting for a murder mystery…
The photos look gorgeous though!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 7, 2011 at 8:25 AM

It really felt like something out of a novel. Though spooky, I loved it.

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Sandra CarrNo Gravatar March 11, 2013 at 9:38 PM

I corresponded for a while with Ninian Brodie of Brodie several years ago. My maiden name is Brodie and Ninian invited me to spend a few days in the castle if I got over there. Unfortunately, the opportunity never arose. I want to let you know that there is indeed a ghost at the castle. It is the Earl of Brodie who passed while on a trip to either Switzerland or Sweden (I forget which). The servants encountered it at the time. However, I don’t believe Ninian ever did believe it, as he maintained that the castle was always a happy home. I’m sure you enjoyed your night there and I enjoyed the trip through Ninian’s living quarters with you.

Sandra Brodie Carr, U.S.A.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 12, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Hi Sandra,

What an awesome story! Now that you mention the ghost story, it rings a bell. The Earl died in Switzerland on a vacation, I think. I will never forget the night at Brodie Castle!

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Sandra CarrNo Gravatar March 12, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Keith, as for the “sound” you heard at the castle, it was likely Ninian telling you to enjoy your stay in his home. He thrived there and was a lovely man. I regret I never got to visit him.

Sandra

Darrell HewittNo Gravatar October 18, 2015 at 2:38 AM

My wife and I just had a tour of Brodie Castle and quite liked it. For a family to simply walk away from a family seat like Brodie Castle and to leave behind all the furniture, furnishings, family histories, the art collection, and even personal items is an incredible gift to the National Trust for Scotland. You two speak of ghosts but are you aware of the fire that destroyed an entire portion of the castle? Our guide mentioned the fire and my wife asked how it happened. Our guide said a coal fell out of the fireplace onto the nightgown of the lady of the house. We could tell she wasn’t keen to elaborate. So my wife asked a follow up question. “Did she survivive?” Our guide, still a little uncomfortable with the topic said, “Oh, no! She burned alive. It was horrific. It happened in front of her children.” Fortunately the children survived. We were very taken aback by the revelation. I can find no record of this story on the internet. Are you aware of this story? Do you know any details?

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 18, 2015 at 8:17 PM

Hi Darrell,

Very interesting story you heard about Brodie Castle. Can’t say I’m familiar with it, but it makes me wonder how many castles have stories like this one that they don’t want told to the public. Really increases the wonder of these places.

Tyson RogersNo Gravatar July 6, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Keith, really enjoyed the post. Would love to be in your shoes staying at that beautiful castle, never been to Scotland but would love to go someday. Until then, I will live vicariously through you!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 7, 2011 at 8:28 AM

Glad you found me. Hopefully my posts will have you planning a trip to Scotland in short order.

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Holiday ScotlandNo Gravatar July 5, 2011 at 3:40 PM

I must say Keith as a scotland blogger myself i found joy in finding your blog. some great posts and fantastic reading. would be nice if you could do a guest post on my blog if you get the chance with a link to this site.

so happy i found this site keep up the great work and say hello if you get the chance.

greg from holidayscotland.org

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 7, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Cheers Greg, hope to see you around.

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