Balfour Castle aka Calendar House

Balfour Castle is aptly known as a Calendar House. It has seven turrets, twelve exterior doors, 52 rooms, and 365 panes of glass! Balfour Castle is an imposing structure on the southwest end of Shapinsay Island of Orkney. It stands between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea surrounded by woods, close to the shore.

In 1782 Thomas Balfour built a house called Cliffdale on the estate of Sound. It was inherited by his grandson, David Balfour ion 1846 and the following year he decided to build Balfour Castle. It was completed in 1848. The castle incorporated the original house between a service wing to the north and the imposing public rooms of castle on the south overlooking the sea.

The castle is a three story structure with towers and turrets above. The rooms on the first floor include the dining room in the south west corner of the castle. The west side of the castle is taken up by a French style drawing room and leading off it is the conservatory, facing the sea. The library, family sitting room and study are at the rear of the castle. A secret passage hidden behind a false set of bookshelves leads to the drawing room near the conservatory door. The library leads off the long room known as the gallery which houses the Balfour family collection of statues and paintings.

The last Balfour died in 1960 without an heir and the entire estate, comprising of an 800 acre farm and the castle, was purchased by Captain Tadeusz Zawadski, a Polish Cavalry Officer with a Scottish wife and four children. They have converted the castle into a hotel run by the family. Today, Balfour Castle can accommodate up to twelve guests. The whole castle or parts of it is available for events. It has its own chapel and makes a romantic venue for a wedding.

The grounds of Balfour Castle extend to the shore of the island to the south and west, and into the large wooded area to the north. Two acres of beautiful walled gardens have been created in the woods. The old gatehouse of the castle is now the village pub. The family continues running and managing the farm.

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