Floors Castle in the Scottish Borders (2019-10) by Floors CastleHistoric Houses
Floors Castle in the Scottish Borders
Floors Castle is home to the Innes-Ker family, Dukes of Roxburghe and sits on the banks of the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders.
In 1867, Queen Victoria was on her way to her Scottish home at Balmoral and stopped off at Floors, arriving by royal train on the morning of 21 August.
Susanna, Duchess of Roxburghe (1814-1895)
Susanna, Duchess of Roxburghe was one of Queen Victoria’s “dearest, most valued, and most devoted friends” and acted as her Lady of the Bedchamber for over 30 years.
Queen Victoria in the 1860s
At the time of her visit to Floors Castle, Queen Victoria had hardly appeared in public since the death of her husband, Prince Albert, six years earlier. She wrote in her diary, “The feeling of loneliness, & arriving as a poor widow … made me very low & sad.”
Queen Victoria's reception at Kelso (1867-08) by Floors CastleHistoric Houses
Queen Victoria's arrival in 1867
Queen Victoria’s visit to Floors Castle was a momentous occasion. Huge crowds lined the route between the railway station in Kelso and the castle while 50 young girls dressed in white scattered petals in the Queen’s path.
Queen Victoria and the Duchess of Roxburghe at Melrose Abbey
The large house party at Floors Castle included some of Queen Victoria’s children, the Innes-Ker family as well as a crowd of aristocratic neighbours and local dignitaries. They spent three days sightseeing in the locality.
Pot plants and exotics thrive in the glasshouses at Floors Castle by Floors CastleHistoric Houses
Queen Victoria tours Floors Castle Gardens
A highlight of the first day was a stroll in the gardens of Floors Castle “At ½ p. 5 walked out with Lenchen (Victoria’s daughter, Helena) & the kind Duchess in the garden, where there are numbers of very fine hot houses …
The Head Gardener's house at the top of the hot border at Floors Castle by Floors CastleHistoric Houses
Strolling in the gardens today
In the 1860s, the new hothouses at Floors Castle were the pride of the gardens whereas, for 21st century visitors, the herbaceous borders are the stars of today. Here the border leading to the Head Gardener’s House features only flowers in ‘hot’ colours, red, yellow and orange.
Floors Castle, Kelso, Scottish Borders (2018-01) by Floors CastleHistoric Houses
While enjoying Floors Castle's impressive glasshouses, Queen Victoria"... took tea in a pretty little room adjoining them which is entirely tiled". This summerhouse was specially built for the Queen's visit and afforded a view of the glasshouses and gardens.
Glasshouses at Floors Castle
In 1867, Queen Victoria could have walked from the Duchess’ tea table down 80 metres of Tropical Corridor connecting seven further glasshouses where hothouse fruits and flowers were grown for the castle by the head gardener, Mr Hector Rose.
Apricots ripening at Floors Castle by Floors CastleHistoric Houses
Fruit for the castle
The largest of the “very fine hot houses” that so impressed Queen Victoria in the heyday of the Walled Garden have been demolished but surviving Victorian glasshouses at Floors Castle still provide fruits and house plants for the castle.
Queen Victoria leaves Floors Castle in 1867
Queen Victoria’s party left Floors Castle with as much excitement as their arrival. The Queen cannot have been the most cheerful guest, recalling “I had been most kindly treated, had been very comfortable, & had enjoyed, as much as I can now, in my loneliness, all I had seen."
Queen Victoria's gift
Queen Victoria’s thank you gift to her friend Susanna was a handsome bracelet with her own portrait which is today one of Floors Castle’s treasures. An inscription reads “To the Duchess of Roxbughe from her affectionate and unhappy friend, Victoria”.
Queen Victoria's friendship
Queen Victoria and her Lady of the Bedchamber remained close friends. When, in 1879, the Duke of Roxburghe died, the Queen wrote affectionately “I know no details, but I know the awful fact that you are now as I am and that your dear good husband is no longer with you!”
The Queen's House at Floors Castle Gardens (2020-08) by Floors CastleHistoric Houses
The Queen's House at Floors Castle
Today the summerhouse Queen Victoria visited, the Queen’s House, has been refurbished as a wedding venue by the Dowager Duchess of Roxburghe, bringing in the garden with botanical prints and some of the Meissen china from which the Queen took tea in 1867.
The Millenium Garden at Floors Castle in Scotland by Floors CastleHistoric Houses
The Millenium Garden, Floors Castle
The Queen’s House at Floors Castle no longer looks down the Tropical Corridor. The site of the lost glasshouses was brought up to date in 2000 with the creation of the Millenium Garden, a French-style parterre of euonymous and box which celebrates the Roxburghe family.
Floors Castle www.floorscastle.com
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
The Illustrated London News