Fyvie Castle

It was massive. I wanted to be a little girl again and run excitedly through the castle. The wheel staircase and the myriad of rooms leading to rooms, each decorated more fancifully than the one before it, begged to be run through excitedly. I wanted my cousins to be there so we could play lost orphans who hid in the tiny, wood panelled room at the top of the stairs and sneaked around the armoured guards and stole food from the kitchen.

But we were on a guided tour and I had a baby strapped to my chest. Plus I’m not 3 ft tall anymore (which makes everything seem bigger and more mysterious). Ah well. It didn’t surprise me when the guide told us in one of the victorian bedrooms that he once found six kids giggling underneath the bed.

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Fyvie Castle is thought to have been founded in 1211 as a open air fortress, all of which is now gone or was reused to construct the current castle. It never really stayed in the hands of one family, but was passed around and sold off here and there, different owners building different pieces. The center of the castle is a wide “wheel stair” — exactly how it sounds: huge stone steps in a round tower that wheels upward in a great circle. In the middle ages when the stairs were built, the men raced horses up them. I felt I could hear echos of that mad clatter whenever we reentered the stairs to circle up to another off-shooting room.


Alexander Leith, a scot rich from the industrial movement, bought the castle in 1885 and made it what it is today — a colossal estate well suited to luxurious entertainment. He built the wing with the largest rooms, including a dining room with a striking, life-size painting of his wife dressed in white and an breathtaking room on the top floor with panelled walls housing cut-up tapestries of brave men and beautiful women in pastoral landscapes.

We came to Fyvie with my parents, so it follows that we visited the tea room. (We did have 45 minutes to spend before the tour began. But we undoubtedly would have taken tea anyway.) Ambrose sat in a highchair and banged spoons and fingered Grannie’s bracelets.


Fyvie was what a little girl pictures when “castle” is said during story time. Something grand. Something fortressy looking. Something mysterious and made of stone. The knight and princess ideal rests in Fyvie’s walls.



5 thoughts on “Fyvie Castle

  1. You captured that soaring front edifice!!! I’ll never forget, closing time, feeling pushed out that door, wondering, where did they leave us, where’s the parking lot? then looking UP. We WERE like children! Take a picture, take a picture! You also captured the charming tea experience (I was going to say tea “shop” but …). I LOVE the one of Ambrose and the bracelets. They were such a part of our trip. He looks so BABYfied; he grew up so in just the ten days we were there. The capture in the bathroom mirror, ha! You and I are looking at HIM … he’s found the actual camera in the mirror. Thanks for endeavoring to describe the wheeled staircase; I didn’t think it was possible. Great fun!

  2. Oh, JESSIE! I want to play orphans and run through the lofty hallways of that castle with you! I feel what Aunt Lisa said, looking at the pictures of the towering front — it makes you small, awed like children, standing in its grandeur. I love seeing pictures of Aunt Lisa and Uncle John with you, and the picture in the bathroom with you two raising your eyebrows in imitation of Ambrose’s surprised expression. So happy!!

  3. What a fabulous bedtime story for me, Jessie! It’s 11pm on Friday night, and Craig and i just weren’t quite sleepy yet, so we decided to putter awhile. I saw on LIsa’s facebook wall a collage of castle and all of you! Little did i know that clicking on it would usher me into a whole experience! It was magical. Thank you for putting all that into words. The pictures were so delightful. Ambrose just makes me laugh; what is it? He is so precious and expressive, that’s it!

    • Jamie, your comment was great bedtime reading comment for ME! Just got in the Atlanta hotel after a day of delayed and missed flights, cozying down in our free hotel room, opened up an email notification, and voila! Yea, isn’t Ambrose funny somehow? Ha!

  4. Stealing food from the kitchen, I can SO feel that-crouching in a wooden cabinet and listening until the footsteps of the cook are gone 🙂 What a happy time this looks like. I had so many thoughts reading this.
    THATS tea time?!?!?! Woah mama, no wonder they’re taking tea every other minute over there!
    I love the picture of Ambrose and Aunt Lisa, he’s eyes connected with her’s and both of their big smiles.
    Hah and his face is the picture partnering it looks like he’s ready to seize the castle all by himself.
    I MISS you and am so so SO! jealous of everyone’s getting to visit you.
    Love love love

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