Castle is not only one of the most beautiful and best preserved 16th
century castles in Scotland, but it was lived in by a single family
for over 350 years. The fourteen generations of Burnetts has produced
generals, admirals and judges, a bishop or two. Crathes is still very
much a home steeped in the love and care lavished on it by the generations.
beside this romantic chateau-like Scottish tower house, with its
little round towers and square overhanging turrets, was very much
the brainchild of Sir James Burnett and his wife, Lady Sybil. It
was their brilliant imagination earlier this century which gradually
evolved the distinctive ornamental thematic displays throughout
the whole walled garden that we see today. However, tradition has
it that the oldest yews in the higher level of the garden date from
garden had been cultivated as a kitchen garden, to serve the needs
of the castle household, almost since the castle was built. It is
divided into eight sections, each with its own particular theme
and character. It is the clever color combinations which strike
you as you wander round the paths and borders.
also has a series of spectacularly painted ceilings, probably dating
from the time the castle was first inhabited around 1596 by Alexander
Burnet of Leys and his wife Katherine Gordon of Lesmoir. The paintings,
hidden for more than a century under a false ceiling were only unearthed
during alterations in 1877. King Arthur and King David stare down
at visitors; an anonymous lady in a red dress smiles mysteriously
as she plays a violin. On beams beside the paintings, artists scripted
short homilies: As a dog turneth to his owne Vomit, so the
foole returneth to his own foolishness.
in the Burnett Family continuously until 1952. James C.A. Burnett
of Leys, whose grandfather donated the castle to the Trust and who
still lives almost next door, spent summer holidays there as a boy
in the 1940s. Today, Burnett is working with American descendants
of his clan to install an archive at Crathes that will tell the
full history of the family.