Click here: Pictures of modern Fordell Castle
King James IV gave the lands of Fordell to the Henderson Clan in 1511, which is now Fife, Scotland. The castle wasn’t built until 1567. A bridge leads to the entrance of the castle, past a weir that used to hold back the waters of the Fordell Burn, and a lake that has dried up. Historical records show that Mary, Queen of Scots visited as a guest when Marion Scott, her lady-in-waiting, married George Henderson, the laird.
Unfortunately, the castle was destroyed by fire and had to be rebuilt around 1580. Oliver Cromwell’s army nearly destroyed it in 1651. In 1866, the estate passed to Hew Duncan, second son of the Earl of Camperdown through marriage. During the 20th century, the castle was destroyed. Only the remains of the stonework of the foundation existed.
The ruins of Fordell Castle were purchased by Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, a lawyer and politician. He restored the castle and used it as a private residence, living there until as recently as 1997. It then sold to a local veterinary surgeon, and then to a multi-millionare businessman. In November 2007, Fordell Castle was sold as the fifth-highest-priced home ever sold in Scotland and remains a private residence.
Fordell is a magnificent castle dating from 1210 and listed for its historic importance. The first owners a Flemish family called de Camera who were granted the lands for fighting in the Fourth Crusade.
Throughout the castle there are many original features influenced by the de Camera family; most notably, the stars and half moon mouldings on the ceiling in the dining room, master bedroom and bathroom are a reflection of the crusaders’ experience of Islam on their travels.
The castle subsequently passed to James Henderson of Fordell, when the lands of Fordell were given to the Henderson family by King James IV in 1511. The property was then extended to its present size in 1567, following the levelling of the original castle after a fire. A four-storey oblong fortified house was created with stair wings on the north west and south east corners of the building with corbelled turrets above.
During the late 16th century, the Hendersons began working coal from their estates which came to form the basis of their wealth.
During the Civil War of the 1640/50s the Castle was used as a Garrison by Oliver Cromwell’s troops. Shortly afterwards, Sir John Henderson II of Fordell rebuilt St Theriot’s Chapel which had fallen into ruin.
In 1937 the estate was inherited by John Hampden Mercer-Henderson, 8th Earl of Buckinghamshire (1906-63). In 1953, he sold off much of the estate leaving only the castle and 73 acres which were then sold to Sir Nicholas Fairbairn in 1961. Sir Nicholas, as well as being one of the most colorful politicians of his day, was also chairman of Historic Scotland — the body that safeguards Scotland’s heritage. His knowledge and empathy for historic buildings meant that the restoration of the castle and gardens was carried out sympathetically but also with great flair.
On Sir Nicholas’s death the castle was left to his second wife Lady Sam Fairbairn, who then sold the castle. A further 137 acres of contiguous forest land were added to the property after Sir Nicholas’s death.
The current owners bought the property in 1999 and have invested a great deal in restoring Fordell Castle. Internally, every room has undergone extensive restoration, including most notably the importation of a series of solid oak and Carrera marble flooring. They are also responsible for the restoration and fit out of the magnificent chapel with its 17th century stained glass roundels and original crypt in the chapel.
The owners of Fordell Castle are entitled to refer to themselves as the Baron/Baroness of Fordell.