A mansion house in the countryside near Glamis Castle has been upgraded to an extraordinary standard by its owners and is used as a high end holiday let. Jack McKeown explores its splendour.
Driving across the bridge over the Commerton Burn, through mature trees and up the gravel drive it feels like I’m leaving the world behind.
Castleton House sweeps into view, its stone walls and bay windows framed by an expanse of lawn and a backdrop of mature trees.
Owners June and Jonathan Perry greet me at the door. They bought the house two years ago having scoured much of Scotland for the country home they wanted.
“We almost bought a house in the Borders but it was riddled with dry rot and would have cost a fortune to sort out,” Jonathan explains. “When we saw this place we knew it was right for us.”
Castleton House sits in 8.5 acres of its own grounds off the A94 roughly midway between Meigle and Glamis.
Between 1989 and 2010 it was run as a boutique hotel with a separate cottage to the rear. Since then it has been used for upmarket self catering holiday lets. Its previous owners carried out improvements, including replacing a large roof cupola, fitting double glazing, and installing two new boilers.
June and Jonathan have built on that foundation with a comprehensive renovation programme that has seen the entire house upgraded to luxury hotel standard, including fitting en suite bathrooms in every bedroom, and installing three wood burning stoves.
One of these burns brightly in the living room, casting a warm glow across the room, which enjoys plenty of natural light from a bay and two other large windows. The dining room can seat 20 round the table and has its own wood burner to keep everyone warm.
The comfortable kitchen has a breakfast area off it and steps down to the utility room.
The former men’s and women’s bathrooms from the house’s hotel days have been converted into a sitting room and a TV room. Beyond these is the magnificent billiards room with full size snooker table, a bar, and another wood burning stove and glazed doors into the garden.
The staircase is magnificent and the cupola above throws light into the downstairs hallway and the upstairs landing. On the first floor are six large bedrooms, every one of which has been given its own en suite bathroom.
The master bedroom is particularly impressive, boasting an enormous en suite with a freestanding bathtub in the bay window – the perfect place to enjoy views of the countryside while having a soak.
The couple have clearly spared no expense renovating the house. Bathrooms and kitchen are high end, beds are all king size, and you sink into the carpets as if they were quicksand. Bang & Olufsen sound systems are in many of the rooms, and they installed a new hot water system that allows all the showers to be used at once without any reduction in pressure.
Every room has its own style and decor, giving it individuality without jarring with the overall feel of the house. Doing it up has clearly been a labour of love for June and Jonathan.
“We wanted it to be a luxurious house and a comfortable house, so we’ve upgraded everything and put in a lot of modern technology,” Jonathan says. “Yet wherever possible we’ve kept the original features which are part of what first drew us to the house.”
The adjoining cottage has also been overhauled by the couple and has three bedrooms, one with en suite bathroom, living room, kitchen and glazed doors out onto decking. The set up means buyers could live in the main house and rent out the cottage, or the other way round.
There is scope to increase the accommodation even further, with the couple having obtained planning permission to convert the garage into a house.
To one side of the house is a terrace with an outdoor entertaining area, including two timber gazebos – one housing a hot tub – a boules court, artificial putting green and a fire pit. Another area of decking houses a second hot tub and a hexagonal timber bbq hut.
The couple put in floodlights which uplight the trees and house after dark.
Castleton House was built in 1902 on a site once occupied by a 12th Century fort, and signs of its defensive purpose still remain.
Embankments drop away around the perimeter of the site, and the house would once have been surrounded by a moat, with water drawn from the Commerton Burn, which flows past the house. The moat has long since been drained, but its course has been transformed into a lovely woodland walk and I spend a few happy minutes strolling the circuit before taking my leave.
The burn flows down one side of the grounds and a bridge crosses it, leading into an orchard and a field. Altogether the grounds stretch to 8.48 acres.
Jonathan, 60, and June, 58, have run the house and adjacent cottage as a holiday let.
The high quality of finish means it was in huge demand before coronavirus struck. “We were never empty,” June says. “Once we had an American couple and their dog. They rented the entire main house just for them. It cost them £9,000 but they said it was worth it because ours was the only house they found that matched the standard of their own house.”
When the pandemic hit they saw their bookings evaporate. “We had around £90,000 of cancellations,” June continues. “It really did hit us hard.”
Recognising the amazing contribution of essential workers during the pandemic, the couple gave away a free weekend to NHS Tayside.
“The woman who won it actually gave it away to her colleague who was getting married and they had their wedding here,” June says. “They had the ceremony in the garden and we were on site, sitting in our car, to make sure Covid rules were followed and in case we were needed to help with anything.”
The couple have now put the home on the market and have bought a house in St Andrews, which they’re in the process of renovating. They currently divide their time between the two homes.
“Jonathan loves golf so he’s delighted at the prospect of getting his resident’s membership”, June smiles.
“We do love this place though, so it’s no hardship to stay here untl we find the right buyer for it.”