THE late Lord Lovat knew before he died that his home and lands,

associated with the Clan Fraser for more than 600 years, would have to

be sold to pay family debts, according to his cousin and estate factor,

Mr Giles Foster.

Mr Foster expressed his view yesterday after news that Beaufort Castle

and 19,500 acres were being put on the market at #6m.

The estate is being offered in 39 lots. The 23-roomed castle on the

site near Beauly has been valued at #1.5m.

Mr Foster said Lord Lovat, the former Commando leader who died in

March, aged 83, knew despite his failing health that parts of the estate

had to be sold. He would have known that this included the sale of the


The decisions followed the deaths in March last year of his youngest

son Andrew, 42, killed in Tanzania by a wounded buffalo, and his heir,

Simon Master of Lovat, who died a few days later leaving debts of more

than #7.4m.

Mr Foster said yesterday: ''After the sad happenings of the last 18

months, it has become necessary to sell off some parts of the estate in

an attempt to reorganise and make the remaining part viable.

''It is a tragedy for the whole family as you can imagine. We had a

long year of tragedies and this is the culmination of that. I would like

to see the place go to one buyer but I just don't know what will


Mr Foster did not envisage any further sales. Around 7000 acres and 60

houses will be left in the family. The new Lord Lovat, an 18-year-old

pupil at Harrow, and the rest of the late Master of Lovat's family, who

formerly lived in the castle when in Scotland, will have the

five-bedroom Beaufort Lodge a few hundred yards away as their Scottish


Lady Lovat will remain in Balblair House nearby, where she and her

husband lived for years after passing over the estate to their eldest

son. It was there that the war hero died on March 16, a year to the day

since Andrew had been killed.

The package for sale includes 2400 acres of fertile farmland; 2900

acres of commercial woodland which also provides shooting; and 27


The castle is divided into three sections.

The principal apartments include an elegant drawing room, a baronial

dining room, a high Victorian chapel (the Lovats are a prominent Roman

Catholic family), and a ballroom. The family apartments form the east

range and include reception rooms, bedrooms, and original bathrooms. A

service wing lies to the north.

The estate employs a mere handful of workers now, such as shepherd

John Meldrum, who has been there for the past 12 years. He and his wife

did not know where the sale would leave them.

In 1990, the Master sold the salmon fishing rights on the River Beauly

and the 33,000-acre Brauien estate for #15m, a decision that was said to

have angered his father.

Mr Foster made it clear yesterday, however, that many of the castle's

antiques and silverware pieces would be kept in the family, including

Bonnie Prince Charlie's pistols, used at the Battle of Culloden, and a

set of false teeth belonging to the 11th Lord Lovat or MacShimi, who was

beheaded in 1747.

That particular Simon Fraser was the last man in Britain to suffer a

fate reserved for peers of the realm. He had been caught hiding on an

island in Loch Morar in the aftermath of Culloden. His estates were

forfeit and remained so until his son, Simon Fraser, won the lands back

after a special Act of Parliament in 1784 allowed George III to restore

them to the Frasers. The Crown had been impressed by the efforts of the

Fraser Highlanders in North America, particularly Quebec.

That Simon rose to general in the British Army and later became MP for

Inverness-shire. He was to add to the Fraser lands, buying North Morar

and land around Fort Augustus, which also were to add to the family's

debts even at the end of the eighteenth century.

The Lovat Estate sold the 12,000 acres in Morar last autumn to

theatrical impresario Cameron Mackintosh.

The lands on which Fort Augustus Abbey stand cannot be sold for

another 880 years, according to a 999-year lease granted by a later Lord

Lovat to Benedictines. By its terms, the monks pay #1 a year as long as

the property is used for educational or religious purposes.