Once upon a time
The Five Turrets is a family-run business operating in the Royal Burgh of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. It's the latest reincarnation of an extraordinary building dating back to 1870. But to understand where its Disney fairytale castle looks come from, we must travel back a little further in time…
With Mary Queen of Scots married to the French King Francis II, the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France against the English prompts an influx of French masons and the birth of the Scottish Baronial style of architecture, heavy on turrets, crenelations and crow-stepped gables.
Young Edinburgh lawyer Walter Scott is appointed Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire and sets out to develop a useful sideline as one of Scotland’s greatest writers.
Scott starts work creating the magnificent Abbotsford house and simultaneously pioneers the revival of the Scottish Baronial style.
Abbotsford is completed and decorated with meticulous attention to detail, including the handprinted Chinese wallpaper. But the cost almost bankrupts the now Sir Walter. He spends the last years of his life writing prolifically to pay off his debts.
A few miles down the road in Selkirk, work is underway on Ettrick Lodge, a grand new baronial property on Ettrick Terrace.
With Selkirk now one of the main centres of the booming tweed industry, local historian and owner of Ettrick Lodge, Thomas Craig-Brown, teams up with William Brydone to form spinning company Brydone and Brown and build Yarrow Mill in the town.
Work begins on the new County Buildings in Selkirk to include a new court house to replace the one in which Scott presided. Thanks to Scott the Scottish Baronial revival is in full swing and the work is entrusted to Edinburgh architect David Rhind.
Craig-Brown takes a shine to Rhind’s work on the neighbouring County Buildings and commissions the architect to transform the Lodge in the Scottish Baronial style. The work includes the construction of a vast billiard room, a coach house and below-stairs servants’ quarters, and the addition of several turrets.
The mills are closing and the building has fallen on hard times. It is bought by local builder Alex Spankie, who divides Ettrick Lodge into four apartments. The billiard room and two upper stories of the coach house are split off and renamed The Coach House, while the old stabling and servant quarters below become Ettrick Dene.
The new owners of The Coach House, the Snodgrass family, wonder what lies above the flat ceiling in the billiard room and poke a hole in the ceiling, only to be astonished to uncover the soaring roof. They add a mezzanine level and turn the building into a family home.
The buildings are given Grade B listed status.
Time has again taken its toll and the Coach House is back on the market. Neighbours Gethin Chamberlain and Carolynn Shaw decide that this is just the ludicrously expensive and complicated project they have been seeking since returning to Scotland from a six year stint in India with their young son Ieuan.
Gethin - a photographer and foreign correspondent - and Carolynn - a weaver and IT expert - resolve to transform the property into a holiday home to run as a family business. The renovations take a year and - with a nod to Scott - most of their money.
The property opens for business under the new name The Five Turrets.