28th September 1853

Queen Victoria lays the foundation stone of the new Balmoral Castle

Prince Albert bought Balmoral Castle in 1852, from the Farquarsons of Inverey, and it has been a royal residence ever since. He and Victoria had previously rented the estate but, when the opportunity to acquire it came up, they took it – and almost right away they started making changes.

On 18 September 1852, the Westmorland Gazette reported that “it has just been determined to build a new palace for the Queen at Balmoral. It is to be built on a site between the river and the present castle, fronting the south, and is estimated to cost from 80,000l to 100,000l. The architecture is modern, and will combine the ornamental with the useful.”

Balmoral castle
Balmoral Castle

New castle for the Queen

The new castle was designed by architect William Smith of Aberdeen, and its foundation stone was laid on 28 September 1853 by the Queen herself. By then, more than a year had already passed since the renovations had been announced.

The Elgin Courier of Friday 30 September reported that, earlier in the week, “preparations were being made for the laying of the foundation stone of the Tower which is to form a portion of the new residence at Balmoral on Wednesday last. It was to be laid by her Majesty and great demonstrations of rejoicing were expected in the district. A dinner was ordered of Mr Ross of the Monaltrie Arms, Ballater, for all the workmen employed, and there was to be a ball in the evening.”

Royal couple’s generosity

Those same workers had suffered the misfortune of a large fire in their residences the previous week. The Banner of Ulster of 30 September updated its readers on an earlier story in which it had “mentioned the loss which many workmen had sustained by their spare clothes and money being burnt. It is pleasing to be able now to state that, immediately after the fire was got under [control], the Queen and Prince Albert gave orders for the erection of new cottages at their own expense, and issued schedules to the workmen with instructions that each might give a statement of what he had lost.” Having tallied their losses, the workers were reimbursed by the Queen and Prince themselves.

The castle, which was built using locally quarried granite, was completed in 1856.



Other events that occured in September

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