HISTORY OF BALBEGNO CASTLE
The story of Balbegno Castle begins in the 16th century when John Wood built the Baronial masterpiece after the demise of Fettercairn Castle (also known as Finella’s Castle or Fettercairn Castle) during an attack. Balbegno was to be the centerpiece of the grandiose Fasque Estate spanning more than 10,000 acres over fields and moorland.
The building is an architectural marvel and no where is this more evident than in the Great Hall which is located upstairs above the porch. The ceiling is a dual vaulted design which bears the coats of arms of members from the Scottish aristocracy, including the heraldic shields from Montrose and Orkney. One of the shields has been “erased” apparently due to a family feud. There is a male bust above the garden door with three fingers shown, believed to be Sir Admiral Wood of Largo. Wood was basically a legalized pirate and a King Henry VII put a warrant out for his capture. Even though Wood was outgunned and his two ships were overshadowed by Sir Stephen Bull’s three large ships, he still managed to prevail and take siege of the three ships.
Balbegno has passed through the hands of many owners through the years. Long after it was built, the castle was eventually acquired by the Ogilvy family in 1795 and the “Georgian wing” was built. In 1829 the castle was then bought by the Gladstone family and hosted the famous British Prime Minister, William Gladstone on many occasions. A portrait of Gladstone can be found in the Living Room.
William Gladstone was a prominent figure in British history. He held the position of Prime Minister four times over his career, more than any other and introduced many major political reforms on the mainland as well as in Ireland. It is so exciting as many of the Gladstone’s possessions can be found throughout the building sitting atop the original tables and furniture. Gladstone’s career spanned 62 years and when he died, he was buried in Westminster Abbey in London.