• winton castle
  • winton castle

Builder Lairds

testimonial Colonel John Hamilton began making his mark at Winton planting woodlands and significantly enlarging the castle.

Grand Designs

Colonel John Hamilton enlarged Winton Castle with the help of the local architect, John Paterson. He was colonel of the East Lothian Fencibles, a regiment who exercised their horses above Wintonhill Farm. He married Janet Dundas of the ruling political family from the nearby estate of Arniston.

They are remembered together with plaques in Pencaitland Kirk, showing the degree of affection held for them within the locality.

Presumably they lived nearby at Pencaitland House and intended Winton to be their main home. John’s neo-gothic additions on the north and west sides, however were left incomplete when he died in 1804, leaving Winton to his sister Mary Campbell.

The Estate passed to her daughter, also Mary, who married James, Lord Ruthven (also of Nisbet descent). Throughout this time, however, the castle would at best have been only a second home, just as it had been for all the previous seven centuries.

Lady Ruthven: Builder and Benefactor

By all accounts, Mary Hamilton Campbell, Lady Ruthven, was a local character. She was possibly the first person to live at Winton permanently as the laird. Most of the older buildings of the east side of Pencaitland date from her time or her uncle’s and the village of New Winton was built by her to replace houses (or hovels) which were falling down within the grounds of Winton Castle.

She built a new school, though improvements to heating technology were not foremost in the design. The park next door was gifted to those in the parish for a playground ‘for the games of Football, Cricket and others…and the Bowling Green… for the Pencaitland and Winton Bowling Club’ in 1884, just four years before she died.

She was fondly remembered by the community with whom she had made great links during her time, possibly making the largest impact of any Winton Laird including the Setons. She left no children and Winton was left to her cousin, Constance, the great-grand-daughter of her other uncle, William Nisbet Hamilton of Biel.