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Blackadder House

(now demolished)


Blackadder House

Bridge over the Blackadder

Blackadder rear

Blackadder House was a magnificent classical Palladian house which stood on the estate of Blackadder approximately one mile south of the village of Allanton.

The name was no doubt taken from the nearby river of the same name which etymologically is an interesting combination of the English word "black" and the Brythonic or Welsh word "aweder" meaning river perhaps indicative of an overlap between the two peoples. The Blackadders' sister river the Whiteadder running off the Lammermuirs is so called as tumbling off the hills it is white and frothy in appearance whereas the Blackadder meandering its lugubrious way through the rich farm lands of the Merse runs slow and dark.

The name Blackadder has perhaps acquired a degree of levity thanks to the antics of a certain Rowan Atkinson and the much acclaimed television comedy series of the same name. The history of the family however is almost every bit as unfortunate in its own way as anything which ever befell Blackadder or Baldric. For full details on the family see Blackadder the true damn dynasty. Rowan Atkinson on being asked why he chose the name for the series simply replied that he was looking for a name reflecting "a rather Errol Flynnish character"

The earliest record of the name can be traced back to 1225 and the grant of the present lands of Blackadder in 1452 by James 11 of Scotland in favour of Cuthbert Blackadder the so called "Chieftain of the South".

In 1513 Andrew Blackadder fell on Flodden Field leaving a widow and two young daughters. The Humes whose part on the Battle of Flodden has been questioned saw their opportunity, attacked and killed the immediate heirs, assaulted the Castle and imposed forced marriages on the widow and children, Sir David Hume of Wedderburn marrying the widow and his two brothers marrying the daughters albeit they were both only eight years of age.

The Blackadder family continued to maintain their ownership of the estate including petitioning Parliament but after various murders, assassinations and cunning plans eventually relinquished their claim and in 1671 Sir John Home was created Baronet of Blackadder.

The Castle remained in the possession of the Humes over the following centuries until being acquired in 1836 by the family of Houston later Houston-Boswalls.

Until around the mid eighteenth century the house was probably little more than the original peel and plans were drawn up for its complete remodelling by James Playfair but never effected.

This remodelling was however subsequently carried out in accordance with plans drawn up by Robert Adam and extended by John Lessels in 1853 who ballastraded the terraces and added a large asymmetrical wing. The house which was described as "The Home of the Stately Home" was probably the first in Berwickshire to have electric power and the original power house survives.

The house was requisition during the First World War for the accommodation of troops and considerable damage was inflicted. No compensation would appear to have been forthcoming and the house was demolished in 1925.

Today all that remains are the estate cottages, a stable range with tower and obelisk steeple attributed to Alexander Boswell in 1785 and a walled garden and summer House.

Robert Fortune the famous horticulturalist was born on the estate in 1812 but the cottage in which he was born has disappeared.

Former stable block

Crest of the Blackadders, showing Tudor Roses because of support given to Henry V11 of England at Battle of Boswell

Bridge over the Blackadder

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