Ayton Castle historic treasures go under the hammer at Railton's auctioneers

Hoarde of antiques from Ayton Castle in Berwickshire going up for sale at Railton's auctioneers in Wooler

Objects up for auction from Ayton Castle. Chris Wilkinson with huge wardrobe
Objects up for auction from Ayton Castle. Chris Wilkinson with huge wardrobe

The job of rummaging through a castle’s attics was almost a step too far for auctioneer Jim Railton.

Mr Railton, based at the Northern Auction Centre in Wooler in Northumberland, was instructed to clear the attics at Ayton Castle, after the sale of the 17-bedroom property.

The castle in Berwickshire, five miles north of Berwick, has a central tower with around 100 stone steps to the attics which Mr Railton and his team spent four days climbing and descending.

“You can see the tower from the A1 and I must have been up and down it 50 times. I was well and truly knackered,” said Mr Railton.

“It is not every day that we get instructions to clear the attics of a castle, and the stone steps up to the top of the tower were quite a struggle after the umpteeth time.

“We even resorted to dropping soft goods lie textiles down on to the laws over the battlements, as we knew they were not going to come to any harm.

“It then took weeks to unpack and sort through the items we removed.”


About 250 lots from the castle will be auctioned in Wooler on Saturday.

They include what Mr Railton describes as the biggest and heaviest of the 400 wardrobes he has sold over the years.

Objects to be sold from the castle include toys from the nursery, ceramics, vases, a ship’s wheel, chandeliers and paintings, including that of one of the last owners of Ayton, the late David Liddell-Grainger.

The castle was on the market for £2.2m.

“The castle is in Scottish baronial style, and it is always exciting to go into the attics of such a country house, where things have been stored for years. You always hope to find a treasure which has been overlooked,” said Mr Railton.

The castle has a main hall, inner hall, gallery, drawing room, dining room, library, boudoir, small dining room, breakfasting kitchen, billiards room, domestic offices, 17 bedrooms, and nine bathrooms.

The original building on the site, a pele tower, had once been a stronghold of the Home family and was captured by the English in 1497.

In 1778 the estate was purchased by William Mitchell, who was chief cashier of the royal Bank of Scotland from 1808 to 1827.

In 1851 a new castle was built at Ayton in the Scottis baronial style in red sandstone and it was visited in 1873 by the writer Mark Twain.

In 1895 Ayton, with its castle and lands, was sold to to Henry Liddell-Grainger of Middleton Hall in Northumberland.


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