This week we were chatting and I ended up mentioning one of the staircases at Brodie Castle which I use to takes tours in. Anyway, one thing lead to another and we thought it might just make a good blog to showcase some of the staircases at National Trust for Scotland properties.
So, first and foremost the Brodie Castle staircase it began with. Whilst at Brodie I used to be a tour guide and took people around the castle which was great fun. And, whilst I loved the rooms and the history, it was the sprial staircase that always made me smile and make me feel like an excited child for getting to climb up it.
Brodie Castle, is not really a castle but is in fact a tower house which originally followed the classic Z-plan house design. This meant there were two tower in diagonal corners and the way up these towers was, as you may have guessed, a small spiral staircase. One staircase has since been removed but the other one still lives on and is accessible to guest as you make your way from the Red Drawing Room up to the Gallery. It’s the perfect small space that makes you feel that little bit devilish for going up it and adds that little thrill to the experience.
Meanwhile, Fyvie Castle has a slightly larger version. Considered one of the finest stone-wheel staircases in Scotland Fyvie’s staircase was built by the First Earl of Dunfermline and is an impressive ten feet wide. There other examples around including Glamis Castle but unlike theres Fyvies central post is not hollow but a solid cylinder. The staircases goes up three floors and is again fully accessible. If you’re good you’ll also notice pits in the stairs where it is said some rather drunken men rode their horses up the stairs.
If you ever get a chance to see these staircases or indeed most old spiral stairs you may notice that most will tend to put your right hand side in the centre as you ascend and on the outside of the stairs as you descend. This was actually done for tactical reason in the times when enemies were a concern. Any enemies coming up the stairs would find their right had, traditionally their sword hand confined and therefore they would be unable to wield their weapon. Those coming down to protect the castle would however be free to move their right hand and attack any men approaching from below. Very convenient.
If these staircases are a little far north for you have no fear; just a few miles outside of Glasgow there is the little gem of Holmwood House. The National Trust for Scotland managed to save the property from development plans in 1994 and is a prime example of conservation in action with restoration of the villa ongoing so there is always something new to see. This unique house has been described as Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s finest domestic design and its staircase is gorgeous. Known as the star staircase the stairs are lined with beautiful mahogany carved bannisters before culminating under a magnificent cupola.
And finally we couldn’t make this list without input from the stunning Culzean Castle. The castle is a great example of high-clas 18th Century living and the main staircase is no exception. A Robert Adam masterpiece, the Oval Staircase lies at the heart of Culzean Castle. It is famous for its soaring colonnades, grand oil paintings and dramatic carpet. And of course the glass cupola above which floods light into the space below. It’s so glamorous you can even get married on the staircase.
So, that’s our top picks for staircases, hopefully you’ve enjoyed it and as always please tweet, like, comment, share and try not to get to worn out thinking of climbing all those stairs.
All the best, K & D