Nestled in the peaceful surroundings of East Lothian’s countryside, Gilmerton House is a meticulously maintained mansion that has been home to the Kinloch family since the estate was bought by Sir Francis Kinloch in 1655. Almost four centuries later, the doors of Gilmerton House are open to guests looking to immerse themselves in the seclusion of the Scottish countryside and enjoy the historic estate for private stays, golfing retreats, exclusive events and celebrations throughout the year.
Steeped in tradition and grandeur, this estate has undergone a myriad of developments at the hands of thirteen generations of the Kinloch family. Soon after acquiring Gilmerton House, Sir Francis Kinloch became Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and in 1686, he was named a baronet of Gilmerton. It was within this decade that the property first appeared on Adair’s map of East Lothian, where the estate is represented as a large house named Gilmortoun within a walled enclosure. Further architectural developments were carried out in 1750 for Sir David Kinloch, the 5th baronet, and in 1829 for Sir David Kinloch, the 9th baronet.
Although the Kinloch family legacy is certainly an impressive one, a particularly frightful event that occurred on 16th April 1795 has made its way into the family’s history books. On this fateful night, Sir Archibald Kinloch, the 7th baronet, arose from his bed-chamber and stumbled down the stairs with two loaded pistols in his pockets. When he came across his elder brother, Sir Francis Kinloch, on the stairs, Archibald fired one of the pistols squarely towards his chest. Sir Francis suffered a slow and painful death, eventually dying 44 hours after being shot; however – quite extraordinarily – he expressed a deep regret for his troubled brother during those final hours, never laying the blame on Sir Archibald’s shoulders. Even so, Sir Archibald was placed in the Tolbooth Prison on the Royal Milel in Edinburgh, and he spent the entirety of his baronetcy in prison or under house arrest. When Sir Archibald died in 1800, his younger brother, Sir Alexander Kinloch, became the 8th baronet and the Kinloch baronetcy returned to normality.
Almost two centuries later, the current owner and 13th baronet of Gilmerton, Sir David Kinloch, returned to the estate in 1980, finding the house in disrepair and in dire need of an upgrade. With memories of the house being cold and gloomy during his childhood, he was determined to breathe some life and warmth into his family home. As the house alone was guzzling 600 gallons of diesel every month, Sir David’s first decision was to install an incredibly effective and environmentally friendly biomass boiler system. Thanks to this one development, the warmth and comfort that Gilmerton House exudes today plays a significant role in the welcoming feeling you experience as you walk through the door. Following Sir David’s refurbishments and an interior design refresh, the house has been operating as an exclusive-use venue for private stays, weddings, and celebrations since 1988.
Today, Gilmerton House stands proud within the historic estate. Firmly in touch with the past but with an eye to the future, Gilmerton House beautifully blends historical pieces of furniture and original architectural features with contemporary bathrooms, luxurious amenities, and elegant Farrow & Ball colour schemes. The music room, for example, features an exquisite Rococo ceiling and a rare example of wood panelling that has been retained in all its grandeur. Both the house and its surrounding gardens – which include a six-acre expanse adorned with oak trees, a picturesque stone bridge, and a stunning Rose Garden – are immaculately maintained. Hidden away in the corner of the estate is a stunning walled garden, originally built in the 1730s, was used to provide vegetables, fruit and has since grown flowers for the family after the Second World War. Now, the walled garden is occupied by a local charity, Growing Matters, who are working tirelessly to bring the kitchen garden back to life, creating a beautiful, productive space where people and plants can flourish.
Located on Edinburgh’s doorstep and within reach of North Berwick’s stunning coastline, Gilmerton House is simply the perfect setting from which to enjoy this stunning corner of Scotland in immaculate seclusion.