Scottish castle with links to Mary Queen of Scots's third wedding comes up for auction

The 800-year-old pile has an opening bid of £284,000.
Hailes Castle near Haddington, East Lothian, dates from the 13th Century and is for sale at auction for offers over £284,000.Hailes Castle near Haddington, East Lothian, dates from the 13th Century and is for sale at auction for offers over £284,000.
Hailes Castle near Haddington, East Lothian, dates from the 13th Century and is for sale at auction for offers over £284,000.

A 13th Century castle where Mary Queen of Scots is said to have stayed on her way to her third wedding is coming up for auction.

Hailes Castle, near Haddington, today lies in a ruined state but has a powerful history dating back to the 1200s when it was built by the deGourlay family, who later lost the pile during the Wars of Independence. In the late 1400s, it was extended with an imposing tower house and armed with heavy ordnance to secure it against English invasion.

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Taken over by the Hepburn family, it was the likely birthplace of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, who became the third husband of Mary Queen of Scots and was heavily implicated in the murder of her second, Lord Darnley.

The couple stayed at Hailes on May 5 1567 as they travelled from Dunbar to Edinburgh for their wedding at the Palace of Holyrood 10 days later.

The marriage proved deeply unpopular, and just over two months later, Mary was forced to abdicate the throne to her infant son, who became James VI, with Bothwell fleeing to Denmark, where he died.

Auctioneers Future Property Assets have described the property as a “superb development opportunity” although considerable planning tests would apply to any future use of the castle, which is managed under a guardianship agreement by Historic Environment Scotland.

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A spokesman for Future Property Auctions said: "We have an opportunity to purchase your own castle set within land on the edge of the river Tyne in stunning countryside that was made famous by Mary Queen of Scots.”

“This beautifully sited ruin of a fortified manor dating back to the 1200 is hidden away in the pretty valley of the River Tyne.”

A neighbouring plot of land is also being sold for offers of £30,000 and over.

The castle remains include a central hall block, chamber tower and kitchen tower, which features a fine rock-cut well.

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Following Bothwell’s downfall, the castle passed into the hands of the Stewarts, then the Setons. An attack by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1650 effectively ended Hailes’ days as a noble residence.

It ended up in the ownership of the Balfour family with the Barony of Hailes transferred to Arthur Balfour, who served as Prime Minister from 1902 and 1905. Later, the Conservative politician was appointed as foreign secretary in Lloyd George’s cabinet and issued the Balfour Declaration, which supported a “home for the Jewish people “ in Palestine.

Balfour gifted Hailes Castle to the nation in 1926 and it remains in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, which continues to care for the site today. The castle is free to enter and is unstaffed.

A spokesperson for HES said: "Hailes Castle is one of our sites where a Guardianship Agreement is in place.

"This means the owner can sell the property. The transfer of ownership however doesn't impact the guardianship agreement or our management of the site on behalf of Scottish Ministers."

HES’ statement of significance for Hailes Castle described it as a well-used local ‘beauty spot, with its popularity increasing since the resident custodian post was removed in the 1980s and the property became free of charge.

The castle’s also features two pit-prisons but these have been closed to the public for decades.