Dry rot closes castle

Thirlestane Castle, Lauder, will close for the summer due to an outbreak of dry rot. The destructive fungus mushroomed in the south wing of the 16th-century home of the Maitland-Carew family, and investigations revealed it had spread extensively behind the panelled walls.

Thirlestane’s grounds will open for walks and events as usual in Easter, but the house will remain shut for the tourist season, which generates an income of around £60,000 for the attraction. Eradication of the dry rot is expected to run into a six-figure sum.

“It burst out in the Lauderdale Room, in the same wing as the Victorian Dining Room,” chairman of Thirlestane Trustees Neil Hynd said, “and we’ve been tracing the extent ever since. There’s probably endemic dry rot there all the time. You just have to keep the house dry, stem it back and hope you’ve come to the end of it. In this case, we think a leaking gutter started it all off again.”

The last outbreak hit in the 1980s, but this time the damage was limited.

“None of the decorative plasterwork has been lost,” Mr Hynd said. “We’ve already reinstated some of the affected blooboards, and replaced rotten lintels, so we’re on the return leg, but there’s still an awful lot to do.

“But it’s not all bad news: it’s a good opportunity to redecorate the dining room, install up-to-date information signs and present the building in the best manner possible when its ready to open – maybe in the autumn. But it’s a great shame, because we’ll have to relaunch next year, and build up our visitor numbers again.”