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The History of Shieldhill Castle

Prior to becoming a hotel in 1959, Shieldhill Castle was the seat of the Chancellor family for over 750 years. The Chancellors are recorded as one of the oldest families in the area, having come from France at the time of the Norman Conquests, along with the Sommervilles of Carnwath, with whom there are long standing connections.

The Chancellor family left the Castle and moved into a new mansion in Quothquan. In 1568 however, following the Battle of Langside, in which William Chancellor fought in the cause of Queen Mary, Regent Moray sent out a party of 500 horsemen to destroy the mansions, castles and fortalices of her adherents. The Quothquan mansion was sadly destroyed.

The Chancellor family then moved back to Shieldhill Castle, where they re-roofed and rendered habitable the old tower, originally built in 1199, and which now forms the core of the present building.

The original form of the tower is said to have been square, with access by the round tower on the North side, most probably added by the Chancellors in the late sixteenth century. This remained as the entrance until the major alterations of 1820, when the tower was altered and extended to form the more classical styling that can be seen today.

During the nineteenth century Shieldhill was further added to and modernised. The original door has, however, been preserved – entire with its stone and lock, removed from its original position to one of the other faces of the tower, where it is set in a later, simple rectangular moulding.

Above the door is an engraved stone with shields, letters and a pinnacle shaped carving, reputedly part of the carved work of an altar which had originally been the family chapel.

The letters I.H.S and M.A. The shield on the left is fifteenth century and bears the crest of the Chancellor family. The shield on the left is unknown. The vane which surmounts the old engraving belongs to the seventeenth century and the initials are of James Chancellor and Margaret Levingston.

Shieldhill Castle Hotel has been open and operating under the current management since 2020 the Castle has undergone extensive renovations to bring it up to its current standards.

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A Chancellor at the Castle

Since we have opened, we have had so many people share their stories of their connections to Shieldhill Castle. One of which, we would love to share with you today. 

Those of you who know the history of Shieldhill Castle will know that the Chancellor Family resided in the venue as their home for over 700 years! Just recently, we enjoyed the lovely company of Suzanne and her husband. Suzanne has been studying her heritage for over 30 years and has found that she has ancestors to the Chancellor family. 

This discovery was over several years ago as she ran across some information about The Chancellor Family and Shieldhill Castle. Based on her  research, she believed this family was related to her Virginia Chancellor Family. After some internet digging, she noticed the castle was under new ownership and was in fact open for overnight stays. 

Fast forward to this year,  Suzanne’s daughter was invited to the The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo as she plays in the United States Army Field Band, giving her the perfect chance to join us here at Shieldhill Castle. It was also her and her husbands 40th wedding anniversary whilst they were here, so we ensured to give them the best possible visit as possible. 

“My husband and I arrived at Shieldhill early on a beautiful Saturday morning. We had made prior arrangements to meet with Jane, who we heard was the resident Chancellor expert. We were warmly greeted by Sandra who showed us to the library and said that Jane would be with us shortly. Jane was very generous with her time and answered many questions for us. We were excited to learn that the room we were staying in (The Chancellor Room, of course) was the same room that Nelson Mandela once stayed in. Jane recommended we take a drive down the road to the Quothquan Kirk to look around the church cemetery to see what we could learn there. She also recommended we might enjoy heading into Biggar for lunch. We spent quite a long time looking at and photographing the headstones at the church. Once we were done there, we drove into Biggar and had lunch. After lunch we popped in at the Biggar Museum to see if they had any Chancellor Family information to share with us. While they didn’t have any Chancellor information to share at the time, I have had several emails from one of their volunteers since returning home. They found some Chancellor Family information and forwarded copies to me. Yay – more Chancellor Family research!


Next, it was time to return to Shieldhill and explore the castle and grounds! Sandra introduced us to Jim. Jim gave us a wonderful, in-depth tour of the castle and the grounds – much more than we could have ever expected. After our tour, we made our way down to the bar and enjoyed a lovely bottle of champagne (we were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary)! Next on the agenda was dinner. Who knew haggis and black pudding could be so tasty? Certainly not this American. Suzanne, our server, was very attentive and we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. After dinner we decided it was time to try some of the many whiskies that they had to offer and sat outside enjoying the weather and the company. Everyone at Shieldhill shared stories of the Grey Lady Ghost. The story goes that she jumped out of one of the castle windows due to a broken heart. We visited her room, but sadly she never made an appearance. Our stay at Shieldhill was just one lovely experience after another.


While I didn’t come home from Scotland knowing a lot more about my Chancellor ancestors, we have gathered additional research that I can work with to add to my Chancellor Family Tree. Since our return, Jane and I have shared several emails. Shieldhill has had two other guests researching their Chancellor Families and I hope to share some research with them. Most importantly, we came home with memories of a wonderful trip to Shieldhill Castle. We will always remember how kind and welcoming everyone was! We hope to return to Shieldhill one day.”

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Celebrating 100 years of Mrs Betty Fraser Harris

Meet Mrs Betty Fraser Harris, one of our lovely guests who recently visited Shieldhill Castle to celebrate her 100th Birthday. Mrs Harris shared lovely stories with us that day, and we asked her son if it would be okay for us share her wonderful story with you.

Mrs Harris was born (in 1922!) and brought up in a townhouse in Moray Place in Edinburgh, spending most summer holidays in the hills around Broughton and the head-waters of the Tweed. During the war she trained as a physiotherapist and worked in Edinburgh and later at Stoke Mandeville Hospital where she worked under Dr Guttmann the founder of what eventually became the Paralympic Games. Soon after she went to visit some family friends who were living in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where she met her husband who was working there as an army officer. Soon after they were married at West Linton Kirk and Baddinsgill.

For the next decade they lived where the army sent them – Malaya and Germany and the UK – in the meantime having 2 sons – one of whom now lives in Symington and the other in Somerset.

Tragically her husband died in 1963 and she came to live in a hidden gem of a house in the Pentland hills beyond Dolphinton, where thanks to a team of friends and carers, she still lives.

When Mrs Harris takes something up she likes to do it well according to her son, so although she started with the normal Blackface it was not long before she was breeding pedigree Shetland sheep and ended up with the Best in Breed Champion Shetland ram in the Royal Highland Show.

Next she learned how to spin and dye the wool produced by her sheep and turn it into beautiful items of clothing before turning her hand to felt-making and quilt-making, resulting in many more artistic creations.

Sadly she has had to retire from production but spends her time enjoying her beautiful garden set among the hills where the Medwin meets the Westwater.

This year she celebrated her 100th birthday and a party had been planned, but unfortunately Covid threw a spanner in the works, as it did to so many people, (with both sons contracting the virus on the same day a week before the party) and the guest list had to be dramatically truncated.

She was extra delighted when Shieldhill Castle kindly welcomed her to her absolute favourite treat: extra-chocolatey chocolate cake and coffee. “The friendly staff made her feel like royalty and gave her a real buzz.” said her son.

We were thrilled to have met Mrs Harris, and be a part of her special celebrations. We wish her all the health and happiness and hope to see her for her 101th birthday.

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Biggar Little Festival

Biggar Little Festival is back, bigger and better than ever before with an exciting 20th Anniversary programme.

Shieldhill Castle are excited to announce that we are taking part this year. We have partnered up with local artists Kirsten Harris Art and Sam Glendinnig from The Alchemist’s Forge for an Exhibition and workshops.

We are showcasing Kirsten’s stunning paintings on the castle walls, which are also available for purchase, alongside an exhibition of beautiful silver jewellery by The Alchemist’s Forge. Both artists are offering workshops at Shieldhill Castle as part of the Biggar Little Festival events.

The exhibition will take place on Friday 21st October 2022, free entry to all. We look forward to welcoming you at the castle’s first art exhibition. The painting and silversmithing workshops include a lovely lunch at Sheildhill Castle. To buy tickets for the workshops please contact Sam and Kirsten directly.

With more than 70 events over 10 days in October the festival offers comedy, theatre and music headliners and many family and children’s events to enjoy!

You can download the Biggar Little Festival programme by clicking- https://www.biggarlittlefestival.com/…/blf-program-2022…

www.shieldhillcastle.com

www.kirstenharrisart.co.uk

www.thealchemsitsforge.co.uk.

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Kickstarting Careers at Shieldhill Castle

At Shieldhill Castle we value the needs of the community and are delighted to support and inspire young people to pursue their careers. The Kickstart Scheme was a programme created to build on the work-force of the future in industries like hospitality. It was launched on the 8th July as part of the Plan for Jobs. This allowed people like Tilly, to work and transition into her employment here at Shieldhill Castle.

“Tilly has honestly become an asset to our team and has grown so much since the day she walked in for her interview. We are proud of what she has achieved in the 9 months she has been with us. She is really going from strength to strength and we are delighted to have her after her time with the Kickstart programme. Good work Tilly! Keep smashing it.”

We asked Tilly about her experience so far, read what she has to say.

Q1. What made you choose Shieldhill Castle as your Kickstart placement?
I was really interested in getting into hospitality. I wanted to learn skills that would be transferable in many places, for example if I wanted to go traveling I would be able to use skills learned in hospitality to work abroad.

Q2. What are the key areas that your experience at Shieldhill Castle built on so far?
I would say that since working at Shieldhill Castle my personal confidence has really improved. I used to be very shy and reserved but since starting my job I have been encouraged to step outside my comfort zone and it has really helped my communication skills with customers. I am now starting to learn some leadership skills when helping to train new members of the team.

Q3. What is your favorite thing about your job?
The people. I enjoy getting to meet new people from a range of different backgrounds. The team here are really good too, we are a small team but we all pull together and it makes working at Shieldhill castle enjoyable.

Q4. What advice would you give someone looking to start their first job?
My advice would be don’t be scared to ask questions and remember that everyone has been in your position at one point in their working career. Ask as many questions as you need and you will learn about your new role quicker and will be more confident.

Q5. Where do you see yourself in 5years?
I see myself continuing to develop my professional skill and developing more as a person too.

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‘Shieldhill Castle Gin’ now available thanks to Biggar Gin

Shieldhill Castle are delight to share that we now have a ‘Shieldhill Castle Gin’! A special thanks to Biggar Gin for making this happen.

Like Shieldhill Castle, Biggar Gin are a family business. They operate with the same outlook and vision as ourselves about embracing the history of our town into today’s modern society. Our ‘Shieldhill Castle Gin’ is one way which both business are delighted achieve this. By offering a rare delight to our guests, we hope to leave tastebuds longing and bring people back our town to enjoy another. 

The gin itself has notes of Bergamot and Lemon Verbena, the essence of a fresh summers day, a combination and blend of ingredients that are natural to our unique setting. Best served with Mediterranean Tonic and a slice of fresh lemon. The bottle itself was created with consideration to our well known shield, and we think it’s fabulous don’t you? 

If you would like to be one of the first to try our Shieldhill Castle Gin, join us in our Market Bar this weekend. Bar is open till 10pm Friday & Saturday. 

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Shieldhill Castle make the Finals for the Prestige Hotel Awards 2022

Shieldhill Castle are delighted to be attending the Prestige Hotel Awards ceremony at the Crown Plaza Hotel. 

We are so grateful to all those who have voted for Shieldhill Castle and got us to the finals. This is an amazing achievement to get this far already. We have been nominated for Best Castle Hotel, Best Hotel Breakfast, Best Wedding Venue. 

Owner Colin Frame and the Shieldhill Castle family would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to staff, contractors, suppliers and guests. The growth and progress made at Shieldhill Castle has been astonishing, the journey might have not been the easiest but we have got through it and we look to continue learning and bringing the very best service to our guests in the years ahead.

Congratulations to all the other finalists.

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Tie the Knot magazine features Shieldhill Castle

Check out our latest publication about Jodie Campbell, our Assistant Manager here at Shieldhill Castle which has been featured in Tie the Knot magazine.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at Shieldhill Castle, our Assistant Manger Jodie has been busy preparing for 2022 with enquiries flooding in after Christmas and New Year.

If you know of any newly engaged couples looking for their perfect venue please check out our wedding brochures: https://shieldhillcastle.com/weddings/

Read the magazine for free at: https://bit.ly/3gzy4Ru to find out more about Jodie and her role on your special day.

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Shieldhill Castle, #PrestigeHotelAwards2022!

Voting has now opened for the #PrestigeHotelAwards2022! Shieldhill Castle are delighted to be part of the awards but we need your vote to win.

The form takes 30 second to fill in and will help recognise the efforts of the team at Shieldhill Castle.To vote click the link below:

https://www.prestigehotelawards.co.uk/vote-20

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The Alchemist Forge partners with Shieldhill Castle to display unique handcrafted jewellery

We are thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase some of the stunning pieces created by The Alchemist Forge. Sam Glendinning, Owner of The Alchemist Forge has partnered up with Shieldhill Castle to provide handcrafted one of a kind jewellery, to not only be exhibited but also available for purchase. Next time you visit Shieldhill Castle check out our Alchemist Forge display, even take a piece home with you. In light of working with Sam we thought to share with you a little more details about her passion and how she began working with Shieldhill Castle from Sam herself.

How long have you been creating jewellery and what made you want to share it with the world?
I have been designing and making artisan jewellery for 7 years from my home studio here in South Lanarkshire. I’ve spent most of my life in the countryside and have always felt a connection with the wide
open spaces, waterways and woodland. Its where I take all my inspiration from. I just love the natural forms you find when you re out and about.


What makes you want to work with Shieldhill Castle & display your creations within the castle?
I had been looking for somewhere to showcase my work for sometime. I knew what I wanted but didn’t know where to start to be honest. I found Shieldhill completely unintentional. I knew it had been bought
over and that it was being renovated but no idea it was actually open. We stopped to ask directions and we got chatting to Jane at reception. She offered to show us round and I fell in love with it. It felt so
welcoming and as though we were in someone’s home. The staff were so friendly which made it feel even more personal & inviting. As we walked round, Jane explained about what they had planned for the future
and the changes that they had done. The whole time I’m thinking…this is perfect. I asked Jane if she would consider having a cabinet of work and showed her some images. She agreed there and then. Two weeks later we launched the current collection’ ‘Pebbles & Pools’.

What are your favourite pieces you have on display at the castle and why?
Its really hard to choose one. I loved creating this collection but if I had to, I think I would choose ‘Calm Waters’. It was designed to imitate the river Clyde running through the Leadhills. As you travel up through the Leadhills, you pass through gullies as the road meanders through the hills beside the river until you come to a large flat basin. The river slows down through the valley and curves over the rocks to create little pools surrounded by pebbles. Its like chaos chaos chaos and then all of a sudden you come into this beautiful calm area. It like the eye of the storm. Surrounded by hills heather and burns all flowing do to the valley floor.
‘Gold Rush’ is another. It’s design is based on the rivers course but studded with tiny 9ct gold pebbles. It represents the history of the gold that can still be found in the river and surrounding burns. Almost a nod to the time of the panners. Its still very common to see gold panners up there today. I actually have a license myself to pan.

Contact Info:
Sam Glendinning
thealchemistsforge.co.uk
info@thealchemistsforge.co.uk
07943 707 579


All materials are recycled from NHS X-Ray films so its as environmentally friendly as possible and reduce my impact as well as supporting the NHS.
All stones are sustainably sourced and bought from suppliers that insure the welfare & safety of their miners. This in turn gives them a better lifestyle as well as a higher wage. All packaging is FCS certified to so that its taken from managed woodlands. I use traditional techniques with hand tools to create all my work. Everything is hand fabricated.