The history of Balmoral Castle dates back to around 1335 when King Robert II of Scotland established a hunting lodge in the area. The first manor house was built at Balmoral around 1390 by Sir William Drummond. As with many castle and estates in Scotland it experienced its fair share of political intrigue and conflict. it experienced many changes of ownership some willing and others forced. In 1830 the estate was became the property of Sir Robert Gordon who made extensions and converted the house into the Scottish Baronial style popular at the time. The changes would be wasted as within 25 years the house would be demolished.
The estate was purchased in 1851 by prince Albert and Queen Victoria. The decision was taken that the existing house was inadequate for their needs and a new stately home should be designed and built. The architect selected was William Smith and, together with Prince Albert, he designed a magnificent castellated mansion in the Scottish Baronial style which had strong similarities to the traditional ‘fairy tale’ castles of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (Germany) – Prince Albert’s birthplace. On 28 September 1853 Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone under which she is said to have placed a bottle containing coins from that same year and a parchment with the date of construction and her signature.
Balmoral Castle is constructed from granite quarried on the estate. The castle has seen its fair share of remarkable guests including Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Tsarina Alexandra. Prince Albert died of a mysterious illness in 1861 aged only 42 and Queen Victoria retreated to Balmoral Castle as often as she could. She made her last visit in 1896 just three months before she died. The royal family has continued to use Balmoral and various Monarchs have expanded and improved the estate. It is now roughly 20,000 hectares in size and remains a ‘working’ estate with close ties to the local community. Balmoral Castle is the home of the Royal Family when in Scotland. It is the personal and private property of the Monarch. It has been featured in a number of motion pictures but never actually used as a film location. The 2006 Oscar winning film, ‘The Queen’ used Blairquhan Castle as a substitute and the controversial 1997 film, ‘Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown’ was shot at Duns Castle in Berwickshire.
One of the most persistent mysteries surrounding the castle is the nature of the relationship that existed between Queen Victoria and her most senior servant and advisor – John Brown. Some historians have even suggested that the couple were married in secret at Balmoral. After the death of John Brown his personal diary disappeared and there have been rumours that it was taken to from Windsor to Balmoral Castle and hidden there. There is a widespread rumour that ghost of John Brown has been seen on several occasions searching the corridors of Balmoral Castle. What makes this even more fascinating is the claim that the apparition has been seen by HRH Queen Elizabeth herself.
Parts of the estate and castle are open to public visitors when the Royal Family are not in residence.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Burnside Road, Tarland by Aboyne
Aberdeenshire, Scotland, AB34 4UP
+44 (0)1339 881 388
- Address: B976, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, AB35 5TB
- GPS: 57.0405,-3.229983333
- Phone: 0044 (0)1339 742 534
- Part of UK: Scotland
- Sat Nav Postcode: AB35 5TB
- Entrance Fees: Yes
- Disabled Access: Good
- Visibility from Road: None