A COUNTRY estate which once provided a safe house for the monks of a nearby abbey is bidding to be turned into a guest house.

Parts of Monkton House, on the outskirts of Musselburgh, date back to the 15th century and its current owners spent decades restoring the property after it fell into dereliction.

Among the work carried out by the owners are an astonishing Chinese drawing room, complete with dragon wall paintings and a ceiling fresco, and an expressionist style bathroom suite.

The drawing room was reportedly photographed for an exhibition in the National Museum of Scotland as a fine example of Neo-Chinoiserie.

Last year, the house, which is set on three acres and has converted stables which provide additional cottage accommodation, was on the market for nearly £1million.

Now its owners are applying for planning permission to turn it from a family home into a guest house.

The change of use application offers plans to operate the property as a self-catering let for large family gatherings to celebrate special occasions.

The applicants say the entire property has seven double bedrooms, with lets expected to be between two and seven days at a time.

And they say there are no plans to carry out any building works within the restored buildings beyond necessary changes for fire risks, adding: “We may also do some light internal decorating.”

Until the late 17th century, Monkton House was used as a safe house for monks at Newbattle Abbey.

A tower on the site dates back to the 15th century but the gardens are thought to have been established after it was a private residence in the 18th and 19th centuries.