Archerfield House, Scotland
Dirleton, East Lothian,
Scotland, EH39 5HU
The History of the Estate
Archerfield House is a beautiful blush-brick building located in Dirleton, East Lothian.
This gorgeous Scottish estate takes its name from King Edward I’s bowmen, who were the estate’s first recorded occupants. These royal archers were encamped at Archerfield in 1298, and there is evidence of a small 11th century village within the estate’s 550 acres.
A tower or house has stood on the site of the current estate since at least 1663. The present Archerfield House was built later, in the 17th century. Historically, this stunning soft pink-brick building was the seat of the Nisbet family (the feudal barons and lairds of Dirleton). The original Palladian design was established by John Douglas in 1745, and was later added to throughout the 18th century. Most notably, the Scottish architect Robert Adam remodelled the interiors in 1790.
The walled garden is recorded to have once supplied many exotic fruits, including 110 varieties of apple and 57 species of pear. It also featured a mushroom house, a then state-of-the-art ice house, and gas works. Records show that a church had been built near the beach, where it had eventually become inundated with sand; in 1612, a new church was built in 1612 in Direlton Kirk. This new church has been remodelled over the years, and features beautiful neoclassical designs. It is also the first church believed to have been decorated in Scotland.
As for the homeowners themselves, the Nisbet family has a long and fascinating history, not least in connection to the Elgin Marbles. William Hamilton Nisbet’s daughter, Mary, married the ‘Ambassador Extraordinaire’ Lord Thomas Bruce. Bruce was a celebrity of the time for importing the famous Elgin marbles from the ruins of the Parthenon. Mary herself was one of the most well-influential and wealthiest heiresses of the late 18th century.
Eventually, the Nisbet family moved their ancestral seat from Dirleton to Biel Archerfield House was rented out, and famously H. H. Asquith – a British Prime Minister under George V – lived here during that period. The internationally renowned author, Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote a story about Archerfield called ‘Pavillion on the Links’. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle considered described this work of literature as “the first short story in the world” and “the high-water mark of [Stevenson’s] genius”.
Over the decades, Archerfield has served as a farm, as a defensive post in WW2, as stables and – finally – it was remodelled into a combined spa, golf course and hotel in 2001… and, of course, a luxury wedding venue.