Historic Tales, Kings, Lords and Queens . . .
The history of Dunkeld House Hotel Estate lies firmly in the stories of the Earls of Atholl and brings with it tales of generations of Scotland’s nobility enjoying their country house estate.
The first residence of the Earls of Atholl was blown up by Cromwell’s troops in 1654 and old Dunkeld House was begun in 1676 to replace it. It was situated in old Dunkeld , close behind the Cathedral. In 1828 a London architect, Mr Hopper, reported on the dangerous condition of the house and persuaded the 4th Duke to build another. At this time the Duke had bought an old inn that was situated on the Cathedral lawn and in 1811 this was made into the dwelling house for Miss Ogg, the retired Governess . However, the inn was now needed for the Duke himself to live in during the building of the new house and Miss Ogg was sent to the Isle of Man which was at that time owned by the Atholls.
The Duke took up residence in the old inn, which had been enlarged and renamed St. Adamnan’s Cottage. Queen Victoria stayed there on more than one occasion and she describes it in her many journals of her trips to Scotland. During the building of the new house, it was referred to as the Palace and was large enough for a coach and four horses to turn in the hall. The Duke of Atholl died having spent between £20,000 and £30,000 but his palace, with its 96 foot gallery, vast staircase and elegant chapel, was only half finished and his successor did not have the money to continue the building project.
It was October 1897 when the 7th Duke decided to build a new house situated a mile further up the river between the King’s Seat and the American Gardens which was to become the present Dunkeld House. This was enjoyed for many years as the country estate of the Atholls and today we pride ourselves on offering the same levels of noble rest and relaxation; a 21st century country retreat where you can enjoy nature, wonderful surroundings, fabulous food and drink and hospitality that is second to none.
During the early stages of the estates’ history, the second, third and fourth Dukes (the 4th being known as the planting Duke) planted an incredible 14 million larch trees plus millions of other trees between 1738 and 1830 and it is thanks to them that Perthshire enjoys its title of Big Tree Country. These woods also provide homes for both the native Red Squirrel and the Scottish Crossbill, a bird species unique to Britain.
Details such as the stunning stained glass window bring this history to live. The window shows the Atholl Arms and motto, the origins of which go back to 1475 when King James III of Scotland sent Lord Murray to capture the rebellious Lord MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles. The King gave him a dagger to protect himself, fetters and a key with which to lock them. Lord Murray succeeded in capturing the Lord of the Isles and brought him back to the King. For this service he was granted the Forest of Cluny and took as his motto ‘Furth, Fortune and Fill the Fetters’. In 1703, the Earldom of Atoll was altered to the Dukedom of Atholl.