As befits its position at the edge of the Highlands, Blair Castle has a long and complicated history of conflict and changing family fortunes through seven centuries. To quote the castles's guidebook, "Over nineteen generations the Stewarts and Murrays of Atholl have been adventurers and politicians, Jacobites and Royalists, entrepreneurs and agriculturists, soldiers and scholars. They have made fortunate marriages and have almost all, in one way or another, made their mark on Blair Castle."
In the Entrance Hall, there are sufficient weapons on hand to defend against an imminent attack, though the only belligerents we saw were tourists.
Building at this site probably began well before the 13th Century when the Earl of Atholl participated in the the crusades. In his absence, a neighbor built a tower on his land. Though the neighbor was expelled upon the Earl's return, the old tower is still part of today's Castle. Built and re-built, it evolved eventually in the Victorian period into its present form, a version of the Scottish Baronial Style.
The Drawing Room is magnificently rococo and contains paintings by Zoffany and Hoppner, furniture by Chippendale, and plaster ceilings by Thomas Clayton.
The Dining Room exhibits a set of six paintings of the Atholl Estate commissioned by the 2nd Duke from the local artist Charles Steuart in the 1760s.
The scenic canvases are set in a perfect decor of elaborate plaster surrounds by mid-18th century ScotsmanThomas Clayton, who is also responsible for the ceiling.
Finally in Part One, we'll look at the ballroom, added by the 7th Duke in 1876, site of the Atholl Highlander's Ball and numerous wedding.
Many more rooms to come next week...followed by a Highland Safari.
Victoria Hinshaw, Author