As you enter the front door, you come face to face with a splendid woodcarving of the family crest. This shows many of the different elements of the family coat of arms: wild boars, hunting dogs, mermaids, a naked lady, and knights in armour.
Furnishings in the main rooms date back to the the mid-18th and 19th centuries. The drawing room on the first floor contains unique 17th century wood carvings, which depict biblical themes, Scottish kings and great heroes. This room also boasts gilded mirrors, originally from the Palais de Versailles in France. Despite its grandeur, it is also cosy, with a large open fire and comfortable sofas. Other rooms on this floor include the ante-drawing room, morning room (now a dining room) and Queen’s room. Two stone spiral staircases take you from the drawing room to the different bedrooms (many of which still have Heppelthwaite four poster beds and other original pieces); the gallery (with portraits of ancestors and others related to the family history, including Peter the Great); as well as two libraries (one with volumes from the 17th and 19th centuries, and one with original and often-signed works from the 20th and 21st centuries).
Craigston is set in 250 acres of mature mixed wood and parkland in the middle of the working Craigston Home Farm. Different walks can be taken through the woods, from a light 20 minute stroll to a more strenuous trek. There are plenty of wild animals to be seen, including roe deer, foxes, badgers, hares, woodcock, owls, buzzards, sparrow hawks and ospreys.
Historic buildings and monuments
A few hundred yards from the castle you can visit the 18th century Doocot (or Dovecote), which still contains the original pigeonholes for the birds to nest.
Just opposite the Doocot you find the 18th century listed farm courtyard. This is currently being restored to provide luxury 5* holiday accommodation and as a venue for events, such as courses (cooking, art etc).
There are two listed bridges that cross the Craigston burn. The simpler bridge was built in 1747. The other, architecturally more interesting, was built in 1885. This bridge was known as the “lovers’ bridge” on account of there being four seats (one at each end of the parapets) - two for the lovers and two for the chaperones.
It is also possible to visit the well hidden 18th century Ice House, where game and other foods were kept fresh, and the Killing House, once the estate’s slaughter house.
For four hundred years, most of the woods were composed of beech trees, but the great gale of 1953 blew many of them down. Subsequently, the current Laird’s grandfather (Bruce Urquhart OBE), a trained forester and founder of the Scottish Timber Growers’ Association, planted a mixture of fast growing conifers and amenity species. The trees are still managed on a commercial basis with production, recreation and environmental benefits being the main drivers.
The family, in conjunction with local partners, farms over 1000 acres of arable land and a further 150 acres of pasture. The principle crop is malting barley (for whisky).