Ferniehirst Castle consists of
an extended and altered tower house, which incorporates the cellars from the
16th century castle, with larger wings and extensions. A large
conical-roofed stair turret is corbelled out above the first floor level,
and bartizans, with shot-holes crowning the top of the tower.
The original entrance leads to a stair known as the
'Left-Handed Staircase', the story being that when Sir Andrew Kerr, who was
himself left-handed, returned from Flodden in 1513 he had his followers
trained to use their weapons with their left hands. This is said to be the
origin of 'Corrie-fisted' or 'Kerr handed'. The basement is vaulted, and the
hall has a 16th-century fireplace.
Ferniehirst was a property of the Kerrs and first built by
Sir Thomas Kerr in 1476 on the remains of an earlier foundation, but was
sacked by the English in 1523. It was recaptured with French help in 1549,
and the leader of the English garrison was beheaded. Sir Thomas Kerr,
protector of Mary, Queen of Scots invaded England in 1570, hoping to have
her released, but all that resulted was an raid on Scotland, during which
Ferniehirst was damaged. James VI destroyed the castle in 1593 because of
help given by the family to the Earl of Bothwell. The castle was rebuilt
about 1598. As late as 1767 the house was occupied and used by the Lord
Lothian of that day but even then it was showing signs of delapidation.
Between 1934 and 1984 it was leased by the Scottish Youth Hostel
Association, except for during World War II when it served as a army billet.
Purchased recently by Lord
Lothian, Ferniehirst Castle has been restored. A bothy wing has been added
and built on original foundation stones to serve as the private apartment of
Lord Lothian and his Lady. When he is present his personal flag is flown
from the flagpole atop the castle. His flag is blue with the resplendent sun
in gold in the centre.
A 'Green Lady' is said to
haunt the castle in some tales, and unusual occurrences were reported during
its time as a youth hostel, although the story is refuted.