Bowhill House is situated in the beautiful Scottish Borders, just a few miles from Selkirk in the Ettrick Valley. It has been a principle home of the Scotts of Buccleuch for two centuries and is full of truly special items from the world class Buccleuch Collection.
Bowhill House started life as a modest Georgian villa. The central block of the House dates back to 1812. This was expanded throughout the 19th century by architects William Atkinson, William Burn and David Bryce to keep up with the demands of Victorian socialising and entertaining. The famous historical novelist, playwright and poet Sir Walter Scott, kinsman and frequent visitor to the Scotts of Buccleuch, loved the House so much that he named it ‘Sweet Bowhill’ in his famous poem, “The Lay of the Last Minstrel”.
During World War I the House became a military hospital and only after this did it become a grand House. However, Bowhill was built for country life, rather than ostentation. During World War II the House was occupied by the army and from correspondence in the archives, we believe the House was not in a particularly good condition.
Following this, the House fell into a state of disrepair, suffering from dry rot and general wear and tear. It is only down to the 8th Duke and his wife, Molly, that areas of it were not knocked down, as so many great Houses were during the post-war period. This work continued with the 9th Duke and his wife, Jane, as they replaced the entire roof.
Today, the Trust is responsible for the care and conservation of the interior of Bowhill House and the beautiful land that surrounds it. It has taken years of skilled and devoted craftsmen, volunteers, plus the support of visitors, guided by the family’s passion and commitment, to save the original structure.
Furthermore, although the term ‘national heritage’ is usually applied to historic houses and their contents, it is equally important to our landscape, wildlife and the people in its communities. With a public that is rightly becoming more aware of environmental issues, the Trust supports this through education and the promotion of the study of agriculture, horticulture and silviculture. The efforts of the Visitor Services team were recognised by Sandford Awards in 1993, 1998, 2004 and 2009.
Bowhill houses many items from the Buccleuch Collection. Internationally recognised as one of the most important in the country, it has been collected by members of the Buccleuch family and their forbears over the last five centuries. In fact, the House is rather deceptive from the outside; it tells nothing of the treasures hidden within including:
• Masterworks by Canaletto, Raeburn, Reynolds and Gainsborough.
• Beautiful French furniture
• Meissen and Sèvres porcelain
• Mortlake Factory Tapestries
• Portrait Miniatures
What separates Bowhill is the blend of grandeur and cosiness – portraits of family dogs and children have just as much place next to these pieces.