DiCamillo Companion
Scotland

Yester House (Yester Castle)

  • Earlier Houses: The ruins of the 13th century Yester Castle (a Scheduled Ancient Monument) are about half-a-mile from Yester House.

    Built / Designed For: 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale

    House & Family History: The Italian American composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007) purchased Yester House in 1972 primarily, he said, because of the superb acoustics of the saloon. Noted for its coved and coffered plaster ceiling, this spectacular room was designed and altered by two generations of the Adam family, Scotland’s premier architects, and is considered one of the great rooms of Scotland. Menotti was the composer of many operas and the founder of the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds), a music, opera, and dance festival held every June in Umbria. Its American cousin, Spoleto Festival USA, was founded by Menotti in 1977 and takes place each spring in Charleston, South Carolina. Menotti is most famous today for his 1951 Christmas opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors," which he said was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s "The Adoration of the Magi" (see "Images" section), a painting that transfixed Menotti during a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Menotti commissioned Quinlan Terry to build an opera house at Yester; sadly, the grand, classical style building was never erected, but concerts were regularly held in the house itself. During these events noted musicians, including Steven Isserlis and Joshua Bell, performed in a house entirely lit by candles. In 1974, Menotti, who was openly gay, adopted Francis "Chip" Phelan, an American actor and figure skater whom he had known since the early 1960s. After Menotti's death Yester was listed for sale with a guide price of £12-15 million. In September of 2010 the guide price was reduced to £8 million; the house was sold in 2015 to Nicola and Gareth Wood for an undisclosed sum.

    Collections: Lyon & Turnbull auctioned some contents May 2, 2018.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: Near the house is the clock tower from Caledonian Station, Edinburgh, which was re-erected here as a folly in the 1970s. Also extant are the gardener's house, the stables, the dairy, Yester Bridge, and the walled garden.

  • Architect: Robert Rowand Anderson

    Date: Late 19th century
    Designed: Alterations for 10th Marquess of Tweeddale

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    Architect: Jeffry Wyatville (Wyattville) (Wyatt)

    Date: 1824
    Designed: Keeper's Lodge for 8th Marquess of Tweeddale

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    Architect: Robert Brown

    Date: 1838-39
    Designed: Alterations, including demolition of west pavilion and addition of new porte cochere, for 8th Marquess of Tweeddale.

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    Architect: James Smith

    Date: 1699-1728
    Designed: House, together with Alexander McGill.

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    Architect: Alexander McGill

    Date: 1699-1728
    Designed: House, together with James Smith.

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    Architect: William Adam Sr.

    Date: 1729-33
    Designed: Alterations, including roof, pilasters, and attic, for 4th Marquess of Tweeddale.

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    Architect: John Adam

    Date: Circa 1758-61
    Designed: Great Saloon for 4th Marquess of Tweeddale

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    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: 1789-90
    Designed: Remodeled North Front for 7th Marquess of Tweeddale

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  • Vitruvius Scoticus: Adam, W., pls. 25-30, 1810.

    Country Life: LXXII, 94, 126, 1932. CLIV, 358 plan, 430, 490, 1973.

  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 1133
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pg. 169
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Category A

    Park Listed: Listed as a Garden & Designed Landscape

  • Current Seat / Home of: Nicola and Gareth Wood; here since 2015.

    Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Hugh (Hugo) de Giffard, 12th century. John Hay, 1st Lord Hay of Yester, until 1508; John Hay, 2nd Lord Hay of Yester, 1508-13; John Hay, 3rd Lord Hay of Yester, 1513-43; John Hay, 4th Lord Hay of Yester, 1543-57; William Hay, 5th Lord Hay of Yester, 1557-86; William Hay, 6th Lord Hay of Yester, 1586-91; James Hay, 7th Lord Hay of Yester, 1591-1609; John Hay, 8th Lord Hay of Yester and 1st Earl of Tweeddale, 1609-53; John Hay, 2nd Earl of Tweeddale and 1st Marquess of Tweeddale, 1653-97; John Hay, 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale, 3rd Earl of Tweeddale, 2nd Earl of Gifford, and 2nd Viscount Walden, 1697-1702. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: John Hay, 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale, 3rd Earl of Tweeddale, 2nd Earl of Gifford, and 2nd Viscount Walden, 1702-13; Charles Hay, 3rd Marquess of Tweeddale, 4th Earl of Tweeddale, 3rd Earl of Gifford, and 3rd Viscount Walden, 1713-15; John Hay, 4th Marquess of Tweeddale, 5th Earl of Tweeddale, 4th Earl of Gifford, and 4th Viscount Walden, 1715-62; George Hay, 5th Marquess of Tweeddale, 6th Earl of Tweeddale, 5th Earl of Gifford, and 5th Viscount Walden, 1762-70; George Hay, 6th Marquess of Tweeddale, 7th Earl of Tweeddale, 6th Earl of Gifford, and 6th Viscount Walden, 1770-87; George Hay, 7th Marquess of Tweeddale, 8th Earl of Tweeddale, 7th Earl of Gifford, and 7th Viscount Walden, 1787-1804; George Hay, 8th Marquess of Tweeddale, 9th Earl of Tweeddale, 8th Earl of Gifford, and 8th Viscount Walden, 1804-76; Arthur Hay, 9th Marquess of Tweeddale, 10th Earl of Tweeddale, 9th Earl of Gifford, and 9th Viscount Walden, 1876-78; William Montagu Hay, 10th Marquess of Tweeddale, 11th Earl of Tweeddale, 10th Earl of Gifford, 10th Viscount Walden, and 1st Baron Tweeddale, 1878-1911; William George Montagu Hay, 11th Marquess of Tweeddale, 12th Earl of Tweeddale, 11th Earl of Gifford, 11th Viscount Walden, and 2nd Baron Tweeddale, 1911-67; Hay family here from the 15th century until the late 1960s. Gian Carlo Menotti, 1972-2007; Francis Menotti, 2007-15.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

    Ownership Details: Available for weddings and events

  • House Open to Public: By Appointment

    Phone: 01620-674-720

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.yesterestate.com/

    Historic Houses Member: No

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