The History of Kirkhill

Almost certainly built on the site of an early medieval church, The Mansion House of Kirkhill site is said to have had links with the Knights Templar. The Kirkhill site stands only 3 miles from Borthwick Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots escaped from dressed as a man in 1567. The queen was said to be captured on the road to the back of Kirkhill Mansion’s estate on her way to Roseberry.

The current house was built by ‘King Harry’ – Henry Dundas (1742-1811) – 1st Viscount Melville and the first Secretary of State for War. A key player in the Scottish Enlightenment, the prosecution of the French Revolutionary Wars, the abolition of slavery and the expansion of British influence in India, he had almost total control of Scottish politics during a long period when no monarch visited the country. This led to his nickname – King Harry the Ninth.

Built as the dower house for the Arniston Estate, the house still has close ties with the Dundas family. In fact, the current Lady Dundas was born at Kirkhill in the middle of the last century.

In more recent history, the house was ravaged by fire in the 1950s. This led to the death of the owner and a maid who apparently jumped out of a window on the first floor to escape. Despite this more grizzly chapter in the house’s history, we have seen no evidence of ghosts!