Late 16th century L-plan laird's house incorporating earlier fabric; considerably altered subsequently and restored 1883 and 1938; house and former kitchen wing restored again 1987-90, Simpson & Brown.
Unusually long 2-storey main block on vaulted cellars with 4-storey square turreted stair-tower at W angle, 3-storey small circular tower at E angle, and single storey thatched L-plan wing at S angle. Rubble with freestone dressings; crowstepped gables.
NW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 5-bay main block on 5 barrel-vaulted cellars (all transverse except at NE end), each with separate door. Advanced blank 4-storey right bay; corbelled pepperpot bartizans, each with 2 windows with gun-loops below and quartrefoil gun-hole between; crowstepped gable and projecting quoins at angles; single bay return to E contains principal entrance and lighting for stair; door at ground with thin, simple fleuron-studded pilasters and cornice, ogee pediment with carved tympanum (much eroded); modern barcketed timber canopy-porch; small square window above flanked and surmounted by framed recarved armorial panels (ditto); winodws to 3 upper storeys, uppermost breaking eaves with swept dormerhead. Turret stair in re-entrant angle corbelled out from ground, corbel with 22 members, trefoil moulding; small winodw with moulded surround and gun-hole below at 2nd storey, square window above, arrowslit window and gun-hole to 4th storey. Moulded string course above door continues around turret and returns along main block to final bay. 4 E bays of main block punctuated by broad projecting and diminishing coped stack between 1st and 2nd bays from right with entrance to cellar at ground, framed armorial panel above and chamfered angles; between 2nd and 3rd bays projecting canted stair-tower, corbelled to square above principal floor, with tiny window and gun-hole to principal floor, window above and arrowslit in gable. Principal floor with window to 1st bay wit thin pilasters on shaped and sunk bases and moulded cornice; window to 2nd bay with flanking shafts enriched with spidles supporting cable moulded cornice; 3rd bay blank; left bay with modern stone stair to door; porch as above. Upper floor with enlarged windows to each bay.
NE ELEVATION: gable of main block at centre with windows to each floor (tiny to cellar) and quarter-engaged round Library tower at left angle. Tower with remains of dumb-bell gun-slits at ground and 3 windows to both upper floors; cubic sundial on foliate corbel to principal floor. Garden wall adjoins right angle of galbe. Set-back to right, principal entrance bay (see above); adjoining to right, Renaissance archway with moulded parapet and framed armorial panel linking with remaining wall of former outbuildings (concealing modern garage). Set-back to left single storey 2-bay thatched private wing; 2nd bay on lower ground.
SE ELEVATION: 5-bay; circular tower attached at E end with small stair-turret corbelled across re-entrant angle. 2 small basement winodws at centre; right one to chapel with modern iron cross. Large winodws to all bays of principal floor with roll-moulded reveals; small octagonal window between 3rd and 4th bays from right (perhaps in site of earlier doorway). Upper floor with pairs of winodws to 2 left bays, single winodws to right bays; 3 wallhead stacks; raised eaves. Projecting single storey private wing attached at left wit tripartite winodw to right and 5 various windows to left.
SW ELEVATION: gable of main block at centre with large windows to all floors. To left, squared buttress on moulded base contains stair and supports large corbelled pepperpot tower (as above) at S angle of stair-tower; tower with winodw to each floor, upper one breaking eaves with swept dormer; pepperpot tower at W corner (see above). To right single storey 5-bay L-plan wing; 1st 3 bays with door at centre and 2 skylights set into thatch; advanced 2-bay gable beyond, with 2 windows on N return.
Multi-pane timber sash and case windows. Grey slates; thatch to single storey wing.
INTERIOR: stair-tower with panelled timber scale and platt stair to principal floor and gallery above; panelled rooms to upper floors, attic room with boarded barrel-vaulted ceiling. Ante room of main block with modern mural frieze depicting local history and people involved in recent restoration with double doors to greay hall; hall with flat-arched chimneypieces on N and E walls (both largely replacements), rubble walls, corbel cornice. Modern kitchen and newly created passage at E end leads to round library in E tower; timber ceiling with moulded ribs, each compartment with knob pendant and elaborate carved pendant at centre; bookshelves on carved brackets line room; garde-robe and private stair; woodwork entirely renewed in 1883 restoration. Some 17th century fireplaces to upper floors.
GARDEN WALLS AND OUTBUILDINGS: ruined rubble wall and end gable of stable remain facing former chapel; rubble wall with 2 doorways links to N corner of castle; parallel wall to rear forms enclosed area. Screen wall adjoining arched gateway (see above) hides modern rubble 2-bay garage with crowstepped gables and slate roof.
Statement of Special Interest
Ferniehurst is the ancient seat of the Kerrs, Marquises of Lothian. A building was first erected on the site at the end of the 15th century, and this was sacked, demolished and rebuilt several times in the 16th century, always retaining the form of a long rectangle. This was finally rebuilt, retaining the cellarage and much of the main block, in 1598 at which time the turreted staircase jamb, corbelled stair in the re-entrant angle, and the stair and fireplace projections on the N wall were also added. Winodws have been variously opened, blocked, enlarged and/or ornamneted, and the uppper storey heightened at some point. An L-plan kitchen wing was added to the SE corner in the mid-17th century; this was ruinous until its recent restoration as a private wing by Simpson and Brown. The arched and rusticated Renaissance gateway is late 17th century. There was once a further wing at the NE corner, perhaps balancing the stair-tower and forming a very broad and shallow U-plan; this may have been part of a 17th century scheme of enrichments which included the string course running around the N front (this disappears where the addition joined the castle). Extensive restorations were caried out in 1898, and in 1938, after which the castle became a youth hostel. More recently, from 1987-90, it has been converted once again to a family home for the Lothians.
A Group with Ferniehurst Castle visitor centre (see separate listing).