WINTON Castle, near Pencaitland, will be fit for a king next year, after a project to restore and conserve four of its 20 “cherished” chimneys comes to an end.

The historic building, built in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Seton family, has hosted musical evenings and private functions for more than a century.

But now, 400 years of wear and tear means the sandstone chimneys “the height of an African elephant” are in desperate need of some tender loving care.

Sir Francis Ogilvy, owner, said: “The chimneys have an ornate rope design, making them uniquely intricate.

“Fashionable as status symbols, the chimneys were intended to impress, but now four of them need to be dismantled for restoration work and rebuilt.”

The survey techniques for the scalloped, octagonal chimney stacks included the use of drones, lasers and digital modelling.

The British Geological Survey was drafted in to analyse the original stone to find a suitable match, which has been identified as that from Darney Quarry in Northumberland.

A cement harling added in the 1960s to cover the finely cut and rubble stone will be removed and replaced with a lime render, the work done by Edinburgh stonemason Scott and Brown.

Sir Francis said: “This project has been planned for a long time, with detailed research into all elements of the work.

“If we’re to find a silver lining to the serious limitations the pandemic imposes on hospitality business, getting this done now offers one.”

Since lockdown eased this summer, the castle has been open for meetings, garden parties, micro-weddings and outdoor activities for clients, all within social distancing guidelines.

Sir Francis said: “This much-loved castle hopes to open its doors again for larger events next spring or summer in its best state ever – ready to play a part on the national hospitality stage, as it has done since its early days for the Earl of Winton.”