25th February 2015

Local man revealed as new owner of Clan Hay property

Kingsmeadows House

Kingsmeadows House

Kingsmeadows House near Peebles, historically the main seat of the Hays of Haystoun, has been acquired by local developer Alan Mawer.

Mr Mawer, who was born and raised in the border town, is the owner of Granton Homes, the property development company.  It is understood that Granton Homes has applied to Scottish Borders Council for planning consent to turn the Georgian house into 12 apartments.

Local fears that the property would be bought by a developer who would seek to build on the 19 acre estate have been allayed to some extent, although Mr Mawer stopped short of ruling it out.  He described the estate as a ‘fantastic site’ and said that there were no plans to develop it at the moment.

Peebles Community Trust, which had hoped to acquire the property for the benefit of the community, have reacted with dismay to the news.  Their spokesman said that this is ‘exactly what we feared would happen’ and expressed concern that the profit motive would override any requirement to preserve the Grade II listed building as it stands.

The plans can be viewed at Scottish Borders Council’s website ( where concerned Clan Hay members will be able to lodge objections to the development.

18th February 2015

Fire Destroys Cruden West Church

Cruden West Church consumed by fire this morning

Cruden West Church consumed by fire this morning

A major fire appears to have destroyed the church of Cruden West near Slains Castle, today, Wednesday 18th February.

The blaze broke out at around 7.30 am GMT.  It is not thought that anyone was injured in the incident.  It is unclear at this stage what caused the fire at the old free kirk, which has been closed for several years.

Originally the Cruden Free Church, built on land donated by the 18th Earl of Erroll following the Church of Scotland’s “disruption” of 1843, the present building dates from 1885.  It’s foundation stone was laid by the Minister’s wife, Mrs Murdoch.  She and her husband, the Rev Patrick Murdoch, are the grandparents of Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media magnate.

The full extent of the damage to this local landmark in the village of Hatton has yet to become clear.  However, it appears that the building has been gutted by the fire, entirely destroying its original, Victorian interior.

The disused church has been on the market for some time and the Church of Scotland had intended to sell it for conversion to domestic use.

11th February 2015

Yester House Sold

Yester's new owners, Gareth and Nicola Wood

Yester’s new owners, Gareth and Nicola Wood

Yester House, the magnificent East Lothian seat of the Hay Marquises of Tweeddale, has been sold.

Following the death of the 11th Marquis in 1967, the house was acquired by Gian Carlo Menotti, the Italian American composer.  His heir, Francis Menotti, put the estate on the market in 2008 for £15 million, when it was billed as the most expensive house in Scotland.

Despite the best efforts of agents Knight Frank, the house attracted little interest, even after the price was nearly halved to £8 million. Now, five years on, Yester has been sold to Gareth and Nicola Wood for an undisclosed sum.

Mr Wood is the son of Aberdeen oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood, and his wife, also from Aberdeen, is former Miss Scotland Nicola Jolly.  It is understood that the Woods are working with East Lothian Council and Historic Scotland on plans to develop the estate.

Yester, which has been described as ‘the best house in Scotland,’ is largely the work of Scottish architect William Adam, although it was begun as early as 1697 for John Hay, second Marquis of Tweeddale.