Lauder castle lands £40,000 grant to help fund rejig plans

Thirlestane Castle at Lauder.
Thirlestane Castle at Lauder.

A Borders tourist attraction toying with the idea of moving a couple of its collections is now well over halfway to raising the £70,000 that would cost.

Lauder’s Thirlestane Castle Trust has been given a £40,000 grant by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) to help pay for the relocation of two of its sets of exhibits.

Paxton House.

Paxton House.

The displays earmarked to be moved are of muniments, or title deeds, and historic toys.

Its muniments collection comprises complete records chronicling the history of the castle and its surrounding estate since it was built in 1590.

If viable, it will be re-housed within the museum storage area and archive.

A copy of the collection is also held at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The castle’s toy collection is made up of children’s playthings from the Edwardian, Victorian and Georgian eras, some belonging to children living in the castle at those times and others borrowed.

It is intended to move the toy collection into a new home on the castle’s ground floor with better accessibility for visitors, new displays and additional interpretation material.

Resident trustee Edward Maitland-Carew said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have received this funding from Museums Galleries Scotland.

“This money will help us to carry out this very important piece of work so these historic collections are preserved and many more people can enjoy them when they visit this fantastic castle.”

Thirlestane Castle is one of three Borders sites among 17 nationwide set to share a handout of more than £700,000 from MGS, including £200,000 chipped in by the Scottish Government.

The largest award, of £60,000, has gone to Berwickshire’s Paxton House to spend on looking after its Chippendale furniture collection, recently recognised as being of national significance.

It plans to improve its care of the collection and arrange an exhibition this year to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale in West Yorkshire.

Paxton House curator Fiona Salvesen Murrell said: “We are absolutely delighted to be awarded this funding, which will help transform how we care for the collections and bring the results of dedicated research to our existing and to new audiences.

“We will be able to show outstanding loans from national and private collections in the exhibition thanks to this amazing support.”

The region’s other grant, of £40,000, is going to Live Borders to help it cover the £1.6m bill for creating a new Jim Clark Museum in Duns.

An expansion of the current Jim Clark Room celebrating the achievements of the Duns racing driver, it is set to open in 2019.

The MGS grant is earmarked for the purchase of display cases and to cover other exhibition costs.

Scottish Government culture, tourism and external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland has a rich cultural heritage, and our many wonderful museums play a vital role in telling that story.”

“That’s why the Scottish Government has supported Museums Galleries Scotland’s museum development fund with an additional £200,000 of capital funding.

“These projects are all great examples of the tremendous work which museums do up and down Scotland, and I’m sure they will give great pleasure to visitors.”

Joanne Orr, chief executive officer of MGS, added: “We are pleased to be strengthening the resilience and long-term sustainability of the Scottish museums sector by supporting such a diverse range of projects.

“This was a particularly strong round of applications, and the additional £200,000 from the Scottish Government enabled MGS to fund five capital projects that we would otherwise have been unable to support.”