HERE IS A lordly demesne! In East Lothian, thirty-one miles from the centre of Edinburgh and three from the Royal Burgh of Dunbar, sits the Spott House and estate, now on the market from Knight Frank. The property is a whopping 2,463 acres in total, including 1,779 acres of arable land, 214 of pasture, and 356 acres of woodland. The estate has more than quadrupled in size in the past decade, under the ownership of the Danish-born Lars Foghsgaard, who bought just 600 acres in the year 2000.
As The Times wrote of Mr. Foghsgaard, “Clad in tweed jacket, plus fours and Hunter wellingtons, with several brace of partridge in his hand and his labrador at his side, he looks the very image of the country gentleman as he strides though his East Lothian estate.”
“The previous owner was very involved in the land,” Mr. Foghsgaard told the Times. “I am not a farmer, so I employed a farm manager: it’s crucial to have the necessary skills and connections in the area to do the job well, and as a foreigner I did not have those.” But the Dane does enjoy seeing the workings of the farm. “When I walk the dog, I always pass through the cowshed, where we have lambs being born each day — it’s such a joy to see.”
The arrival of grandchildren back in Denmark, however, has caused the owner to head back home and put Spott on the market. This is one of the greatest Scottish estates to come up for sale in many years. The listing from Knight Frank says ‘price on application’, but the agents have told the press they’d entertain offers in the region of… gulp… £25 million (That’s about €29m, $39m, or R279m).
Spott House, with its views to the North Sea, has three reception rooms, a study, billiards room, kitchen, nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms, cellar, gun room, and staff flat, encompassed by the gardens and grounds. The site of has been occupied since 1150, with a tower house constructed in 1640, and remodelled by William Burn, the pioneer of the Scots Baronial style, in 1830.
Originally a family estate of the Hays of Yester, Spot is reputed to have housed Cromwell during the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. In 1830, the Hays sold Spott to James Sprot, who had the house remodelled to its present size and general appearance. The estate remained in his family until 1947, when it was sold to Sir James Hope. It was eventually sold to the Lawrie family, who sold it to the present owner in 2000.
The estate includes additional farm buildings, among them fourteen cottages of traditional construction, a stable yard, cattle court, dovecot, and other such steadings.
Brunt Farmhouse, a sandstone structure at Spott, enjoys views to the south. With three reception rooms and seven bedrooms, it’s currently used for holiday lets and shooting parties.
Speaking of shooting, the estate provides ample opportunities for roe deer stalking, duck flighting, driven partridge and pheasant shoots, as well as trout. In the 2008–09 season, the shooting totals at Spott were 3,859 pheasant, 3,169 partridge, 113 duck, 40 woodcock, 18 roe buck.
The farms feature a high yield of wheat, barley, and oilseed rape. There are also seventy suckler cows, and 400 ewes.
Mr. Foghsgaard is keen to rid any potential buyers of their stereotypes of the Scottish climate: “The rainfall here is less than twenty-seven inches a year compared with the Scottish average of forty-four. Everyone assumes Scotland is wet, but we have lots of sunny days here.”