Country houses for sale

Careston Castle and its vast estate come up for sale for the first time in a century and a half, an astonishing place with arguably the finest fireplaces in Scotland

A dizzying array of handsome houses and fertile land is available on the 1,528-acre Careston estate in Angus, a property centred on Careston Castle itself. Penny Churchill takes a look.

It’s the end of an era for the illustrious 1,528-acre Careston residential and farming estate, near Brechin, Angus. The estate, which has been in the Adamson family for 149 years, has come to the market via Savills at a guide price of £11.3 million, with the family also willing to split the property up into as many as eight lots.

The last time Careston graced the pages of Country Life was on March 1, 1913, when the magazine’s then Architectural Editor, Lawrence Weaver, traced the history of the estate and its magnificent Category A-listed castle, built in the late 16th century by Sir Henry Lindsay of Kinfaines, later 13th Earl of Crawford. Sir Henry’s ‘new place of Carraldstone’ was a tall, L-shaped house, probably built around the 13th-century keep of one Keraldus, a high-ranking court officer to the Earls of Angus, from whom Careston takes its name.

Credit: Itago Media Ltd / Savills

Sir Henry is said to have sold the estate to Adam Rae, a merchant from Edinburgh, in 1612; soon after that, it was acquired by Sir Henry’s nephew, Lord Spynie, who revamped the castle’s interior in the course of the 1620s. The next owner was Sir Alexander Carnegie, who shared Lindsay’s passion for heraldic treatments, which may account for the elaborately carved pink-sandstone chimneypieces in the drawing room, dining room and principal bedroom.

In 1682, John Ochterlony, described Careston as a ‘great and most delicate house, well built, brave lights, and of a most excellent contrivance, without debait the best gentleman’s house in the shyre; extraordinaire much planting, delicate yards and gardens with stone walls, and excellent avenue with ane range of ash trees on every syde, ane excellent arbour, – for length and breadth, none in the countrey lyke it’ [sic].

Credit: Savills

In 1701, the castle was acquired by Sir John Stewart of Grandtully & Murthly, who added a wing to create a symmetrical, U-shaped, four-storey house of five bays with short projecting gables at each end; his coat-of-arms holds pride of place above the front door. By 1721, the castle was owned by Maj George Skene and passed down through his family to his great-granddaughter, who married Alexander, 3rd Earl of Fife.

In about 1790, a grandiose staircase hall was added at the rear and the 16th-century corner turrets were embellished with crenellations in the Gothic style. Further additions at the back and a loggia across the front were made for John Adamson, the son of a Dundee whaling captain and owner of the Erichtside linen works at Blairgowrie, who purchased Careston from the 5th Earl of Fife in 1872.

Credit: Itago Media Ltd / Savills

Set against the backdrop of the heather-clad Angus Glens to the north, Careston Castle sits in a magnificent parkland setting at the heart of the estate, surrounded by mature woodland with high-quality arable land beyond. An asking price of ‘offers over £2.9m’ is sought for Lot 1, comprising the imposing main mansion of red sandstone under a slate roof, three cottages, 143 acres of arable, 29 acres of pasture, 137 acres of woodland and a further 33 acres of amenity land — 345 acres in all.

Behind its grand exterior, the 15,700sq ft castle is a much-cherished, manageable and comfortable family home, with the principal accommodation — four fine reception rooms, a library, six main bedrooms and five bathrooms — laid out over the first and second floors.

Credit: Itago Media Ltd / Savills

Much of the ground floor is currently used for storage and five well-insulated rooms on the third floor could provide additional bedrooms.

Credit: Itago Media Ltd / Savills

The interior boasts many notable features including timber panelling in the reception rooms, stone and timber flooring and beautiful carved fireplaces, the stonework of which ranks among the finest in Scotland.

Credit: Itago Media Ltd / Savills

‘Offers over £850,000’ are invited for Lot 2, comprising four large arable fields and woodland adjoining the wooded south-west boundary of Lot 1 — a total of 119 acres in all, directly accessible off the main A90. A guide of ‘over £1.5m’ is quoted for Lot 3, the Mains of Careston — a farmstead with a substantial range of farm buildings and 195 acres to the east of Careston Castle, bounded on two sides by a minor public road that forms the estate’s eastern boundary.

Credit: Itago Media Ltd / Savills

Nether Careston, the hub of the estate’s farming operation, is Lot 4, with its 424-acre farm to the south of the A90, solid four-bedroom stone farmhouse, bungalow and a range of useful farm buildings — for ‘offers over £3.5m’. The Noran Water passes to the west of the steading and meanders through the farmland before joining the River South Esk on the eastern boundary.

The farm is bounded to the south by Lot 8, the Upper Careston Beat, comprising 1½ miles of salmon and sea-trout fishing on the South Esk, for which ‘offers over £250,000’ are invited.

Credit: Itago Media Ltd / Savills

To the east of Nether Careston are the adjoining lands of Balnabreich (pronounced ‘Bonnybreich’) which constitute Lot 5 — 152 acres of arable, 14 acres of pasture, two acres of woodland and 10 acres of additional land; ‘offers over £1.2m’ are sought. Lot 6 is North Wood, an outlying block of 147 acres of permanent pasture and woodland (recently felled and re-stocked with sitka spruce), which is available for ‘offers over £450,000’, whereas Lot 7, Careston North, comprises 89 acres of mainly arable, with permanent pasture and woodland — ‘offers over £650,000’.

Credit: Itago Media Ltd / Savills

Over the years, the estate has invested heavily in its residential housing stock, most of which is let on short or private tenancies. In addition to Careston Castle, six residential properties are included in the sale, ranging from two-bedroom cottages to the four-bedroom farmhouse at Nether Careston.

A further 13 residential properties within the boundaries of the various lots are also available for sale, advises selling agent Evelyn Channing, who is already fielding enquiries from farmers, investors and private individuals from throughout the UK and overseas.

Careston Estate is for sale at £11.3m, and can be broken down into eight lots — see more details and images.