FOR centuries it was home to a family of eccentrics, travellers, adventurers, gardeners and thespians. Down through the centuries every one has left an indelible mark. From the Playful Garden, with its toads and giant bunny, to a library containing over 6000 books, Brodie Castle not only stands as a national treasure but as a record of the extraordinary family who gave it its name.

The Brodies first built their home here on the outskirts of Forres in Moray in 1567. They watched it burn in 1645, gutted by fire and then built it again, with successive generations adding new wings, turrets and features, creating the unique A-listed property which stands today. The castle is a site to behold on the high ground, surrounded by woods. Few in Scotland reflect the changing of the seasons so perfectly, the harled walls illuminated by the spring and summer brilliance of thousands of daffodils then tinged red and pink by autumn leaves. And when winter comes Brodie becomes a wonderland, a picture of festive perfection.

James Dean, operations manager at the castle. “It reflects the landscape and our position near the coast. Some days you look out and it is a grey colour, on others the light catches it and brings out the pink. It captures that beautiful autumnal light, bringing out hues of orange from the trees and the stunning copper beech just next to the castle – which looks like it is on fire. Then in the spring we have the yellow from the thousands of daffodils and that lemon light, which brings a completely different atmosphere to the building.”

This jewel of the north has been in the care of the National Trust for Scotland since the late Seventies and was the home of ‘the last Brodie’, Ninian, who passed away in 2003. A keen actor, Ninian is fondly remembered by staff at the property, where he used to welcome visitors as an unofficial, enthusiastic and hugely knowledgeable guide. He is not the only Brodie forever ‘captured’ in the property.

“You can see lots of characters here from the castle’s history. The spitting toads in the playful garden are inspired by Violet Brodie, wife of the 24th Brodie of Brodie, who kept two or three amphibious toads in one of the bedrooms. The giant dinner items, tables and chairs reflect Ninian Brodie’s life as an entertainer and the parties he had here, while the white rabbit is a nod to his life as a dramatist and his role in a production of Harvey. There is a big painting of him and ‘Harvey’ on display in the castle as well.”

That white rabbit in the garden also happens to be Scotland’s biggest bunny sculpture and is not the only sight to look out for in a trip to Brodie Castle.

A castle in bloom

“We have 112 species of daffodil on the estate, from the original 428 registered in the Brodie collection,” explained James. Brodie is one of four national collections and the daffodils are a legacy of one particular Brodie, Ian, the 24th Brodie of Brodie, who in 1889 saw the property as the perfect place for his favourite flower. “It is really spectacular,” added James. “From the end of February through to May and there are so many varieties with different petals and different colours.”

Meet the Dutch Master

Brodie boasts an extraordinary art collection, one which spans the centuries and has been gathered by a number of Lairds. In order to protect the collection, the paintings are rotated but among the highlights are Dutch master, Van der Vliet’s The Philosopher and his Pupils and the Scottish colourists, including works by Francis Cadell and Samuel John Peploe.

A royal touch

Art aside, Brodie has one of the National Trust for Scotland’s largest collections of artefacts. Like the paintings it is rotated to protect and preserve. It includes a stunning coronation gown, worn by Queen Adelaide at William IV's coronation in 1831, the only coronation gown outside the royal collection. There is also a letter written by Robert the Bruce warning the Brodies to keep their ditch clean because it is polluting the local water supply.

The Playful Garden

Is a garden of imagination, one which lets children (and adults) enter a magical world, of giant chairs and tables, a huge rabbit, mirrors and other features. It is not a traditional playpark, with swings and slides, but one which lets visitors choose their own adventure.

The Scottish Adventure Travel Film Festival

Watch the world’s best adventure travel films all over the property – in drawing rooms, stables, even a garden shed. The festival runs from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 September and you can stay for the whole weekend, camping out in the grounds or experiencing the amazing Laird’s accommodation in the castle itself!

The Autumn Food and Craft Festival

On September 21 and 22 the castle will host a festival of music, food and crafts, many of which are created within the thriving local community in Moray. You’ll find silversmiths, felt artists, ceramists, artists, candle makers and sculptors, together with patisseries, chocolates, meats, charcuterie and seafood.

Christmas at the castle

It’s a little bit too early for festive celebrations but if you already have an eye on the season to be jolly, Brodie will be open through winter. The decorations and lights are a sight in themselves but there is a whole programme of events planned. Meet Father Christmas, go on twilight tours and attend a whole range of events as part of a winter festival which runs from St Andrew’s Day to Burns Night. The full programme will be listed on the National Trust for Scotland website.

Brodie Castle is cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. The conservation charity’s properties include eight national nature reserves, 38 gardens and landscapes, 46 Munros, 400 islands and inlets, 26 castles and great houses and thousands or precious artefacts. You can support their work by visiting or by joining as a member.

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