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Lauriston Castle is located in Edinburgh, Scotland. The castle tower house was built in the 16thcentury, with the Jacobean extensions added in the 19thcentury. In 1902, wealthy cabinetmaker, William Reid purchased the castle and installed modern plumbing and electricity. He and his wife began collecting fine art and furniture for their home. Lauriston Castle overlooks the Firth of Forth, which is an estuary of several Scottish rivers. The castle boasts Edwardian interiors with Derbyshire Blue John carpets, mosaics, Italian furniture, engravings, and Oriental carpets. The exterior has a Victorian greenhouse, three croquet lawns, and a Japanese garden that was a gift from the prefecture of Kyoto. After Mrs. Reid’s death, and with no heirs, the castle and thirty acres of land were bequeathed to Scotland. The castle became a museum in 1926. Lauriston Castle is open to the public and hosts regular costume performances.
Eltham Palace is located in London, England. The medieval, Tudor palace was first mentioned in the 11thcentury and was owned by Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux. The property exchanged hands numerous times, and in 1295, Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, owned the property. Bek rebuilt the manor house and had a defensive wall built within the line of the moat. In the 14thcentury, Edward II granted the manor to Queen Isabella and the castle became a royal residence. Extensive renovations occurred during this time, which included a new drawbridge and new royal lodgings. In the 1380’s, King Richard II added a dancing chamber and new bathhouse. King Edward IV added the great hall, while King Henry VIII built new royal lodgings, a chapel, and created a tiltyard for jousting on the property in 1517. By the 17thcentury, the property was poorly maintained and fell into decay so the castle was sold to Colonial Nathaniel Rich. Rich had many of the buildings torn down. Eltham Palace was used for tenant farmers for a couple of centuries. The current palace was built in the 1930’s by the Courtauld family, who leased the property from the Crown for 99-years. The new manor incorporates King Edward II’s great hall with its hammer beam roof, but the new interior is decorated in an Art Deco style. In 1940, the great hall roof was badly damaged by German bombs and the Courtauld family moved to Scotland, leaving the property to the Royal Army Educational Corps in 1945. The Corps remained until 1992, when the English Heritage group assumed the palace’s management. The charity group renovated and restored the interiors and exteriors. Eltham Palace is open to the public and serves as a wedding venue.
Raby Castle is located in the County of Durham near Staindrop, England. The medieval castle was built in the late 14thcentury for John Neville, 3rdBaron Neville de Raby. The Neville family ownership lasted until 1569 and ended with their unsuccessful plotting of the “Rising of the North.” The castle was confiscated and held by the Crown for the next forty-three years, until it was sold to Sir Henry Vane the Elder in 1626. The Vane’s modernized the castle and carried out extensive renovations during the 18thand 19thcenturies. Raby Castle boasts a Gothic entrance hall, an octagonal drawing room, a medieval chapel, the Baron’s Hall, and an extensive art collection, which includes works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Anthony Van Dyck. The castle remains a private home and serves as the seat of the Vane family, the Barons Barnard. Raby Castle has an irregular design plan, with nine towers along its perimeter. The castle had a drawbridge and moat at one time, but the drawbridge was replaced by a flagstone walkway. The castle is open to the public and sits on 200 acres, which includes a curtained wall, a deer park, a gatehouse, a coach house, a café, a shop, a playground for kids, a horse drawn carriage collection, walled gardens, and the Raby Castle Cricket Club. The castle has picnic areas, guided tours, and bike rentals.