History of Castle Venlaw
Castle Venlaw - A Historic House
The original house was built on the site of the old Smithfield Castle in 1782 and enlarged in 1854.
It is an excellent example of the Scottish Baronial style. It is set in 4 acres of quiet, wooded garden surrounded by hills, forest and farmland.
It was built in 1782 by Alexander Stevenson, Sheriff Deputy of Peebleshire.
Alexander Stevenson was succeeded in ownership by his sisters who, in their turn, sold the house to Ludovic Grant in 1790 and it was then conveyed to William Grant in 1793.
The house was bought by Major Archibald Erskine in 1798 and, on his death, was conveyed to James Elphinstone Erskine in 1862.
James Erskine with his wife Margaret Constable extended the house to its present size, by the addition of the further storey and the large south wing and turret in 1892. The house was then sold to Mr Richard Davidson, a retired tea planter, whose widow sold the house to a Miss Walton in 1946.
In 1948 the house was bought by Mr Alexander Cumming and his wife, Jean Brownlee. They intended to operate it as an hotel immediately, but were unable to pay a tax known as the "development tax" which was levied on people turning a private house into a business. Alexander Cumming fought to have this tax abolished and his success is now recorded in Hansard.
Venlaw Castle Hotel opened in 1949. In 1972, on the death of Alexander, his son Alastair assumed his father's share of the business and operated the hotel with his mother and wife Janet Hamilton. Alistair's mother, Jean Brownlee, died in 1994.