PICTURES: This massive 16th century Fife castle with ties to Robert the Bruce has gone on the market

The stunning Earlshall Castle.
The stunning Earlshall Castle.

Paul Veenhuijzen clicks a hidden switch and a panel of his timber-lined study pops open, revealing a toilet and sink tucked into the one of the castle’s turrets.

“This is my secret bathroom,” the Dutch businessman smiles. “I don’t tell anyone about it.”

Earlshall Castle has enough of these delightful features – there’s a hidden staircase in another turret, and stone monkeys scamper along the rooftop of a cottage in the grounds – to fill an article several times the size of this one.

Sir William Bruce, a relative of Robert the Bruce, began construction of Earlshall Castle, which sits along a country lane just outside Leuchars, in 1546.

Mary Queen of Scots stayed there in 1561 and James VI of Scotland and I of England was another famous royal guest.

Earlshall Castle was already nearly 350 years old when it was bought by Robert Mackenzie of Perth, who employed a young Robert Lorimer to carry out its restoration.

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“This was Lorimer’s second project, after he renovated Kellie Castle for his father,” Paul continues.

“The kitchen extension we’re sitting in was built as his site office. He restored the castle and also built the amazing walled garden, which is absolutely remarkable and completely unique in Scotland.

“The trees were brought from a disused garden in Edinburgh and were shipped across the Forth then transported by horse and cart. They were already 125 years old and are now over 250 years old.”

Paul (74) – who runs a shipping and dredging company – and his wife Josine (66) bought the castle in 1998 after visiting it no less than eight times.

The castle has 10 bedrooms, eight reception rooms, six bathrooms and two dressing rooms.

It sits in 34 acres of gardens, fields and woodland, with a further 19 acres available, and the estate has three cottages – including the delightful gate house, above the main entrance into the castle grounds.

The magnificent walled grounds are separated into gardens within gardens by cleverly placed walls and hedges.

Indeed, Lorimer’s plans for the gardens are on display in V&A Dundee.

Paul’s business requires him to move back to Holland and they’re selling Earlshall Castle with a heavy heart.

One thing he won’t miss is the castle’s resident ghost – said to be the spirit of William Bruce’s grandson Andrew “Bloody” Bruce, who killed Covenanter Richard Cameron before hacking off his hands and feet.

“They say he walks the halls of the castle at night,” Paul explains. “And indeed I did hear footsteps on the stairs on the first night I slept here.

“It was quite disturbing until I realised it was the sound of the flagpole banging in the wind.”

Earlshall Castle, Leuchars is on sale with Savills for o/o £5 million.