Castle Fraser is now a grand castle and stately home owned by the National Trust, developed and improved on from its beginnings as a fortified towerhouse by generations of the Fraser family. The castle was known as Muchall in Mar until 1695.
Thomas Fraser was a loyal supporter of James II and as reward for his fealty he was granted lands of Muchall and Stoneywood in exchange for his own lands near Stirling. The castle was originally a 3 storey rectangular Tower House. Reconstruction and additions to the tower were started around 1570 by the 5th Earl: Michael Fraser and completed in 1636 while under the control of Andrew Fraser who was also the first Lord Fraser.
The castle was reconstructed as a classic Z plan incorporating the existing 3 storey tower under master masons Thomas Leiper, and eventually John Bell (employed by Andrew Fraser). The second Lord Fraser (also named) Andrew Fraser, inherited the castle in the late 1630’s. Andrew was a Covenanter and active in the religious unrest of the 17th C, leading to the sacking of the castle by James Graham the Marquis of Montrose in 1644. However the Fraser’s were still allowed to stay at the castle although ownership passed to other people returning back to the Fraser family eventually over time.
The castle was modernised in the 1700’s: the 300 acre grounds were landscaped in accordance with contemporary fashion, and a large stable block was added. In 1820 Charles Fraser oversaw an interior overhaul of the castle, and a walled garden was also completed in the 19th Century. The Fraser family became the Mackenzie Fraser family through a nominated heirdom of the castle. This line was broken in 1897 when Fredrick Mackenzie Fraser died without an heir. In 1921 his widow sold the castle and lands to Weetman Pearson (Viscount Cowdray) who passed the castle to his son Clive Pearson, Clive’s daughter Lavinia gave the castle to the National Trust in 1976.
Traditions and Legends
The Green room of the castle was reputedly the scene of the violent murder of a young Princess who was dragged down the stairs leaving a trail of blood. This blood trail could not be removed no matter how hard it was scrubbed and cleaned and eventually wooden panelling was made to cover the stairs and hide the grim evidence of the bloody deed. Whether there is any truth in the story of the murdered Princess is unclear. There have reputedly been ghostly sightings by staff at the castle and piano music is said to have been heard.