Kingston, North Berwick
Fenton Tower’s location was originally chosen because it afforded views in every direction, so that you would have early warning of an attack.
There has been a fortified tower on this site since the 11th century. The current tower is mid-16th century and has been restored as a luxury holiday home.
As such, you can view the tower from its manicured grounds.
~ History ~
1100's ~ The lands of 'Fentoun' along with the lands of Gullane, Archerfield, Dirleton and Fidra island are all held by the Anglo-Norman De-vaux family. They later gift 'Fentoun' to their English kin the De-vauxs of Lanercost Priory.
1550 ~ Patrick Whytelaw, son of Rithven, constructs a tower at Fenton.
1587 ~ Sir John Carmichael and his wife Margaret Douglas take ownership of the tower after it is forfeited by Patrick Whytelaw. Sir John had been the Scottish Ambassador to Denmark, and this is his reward for his loyalty to the Crown.
Locally the Carmichaels also hold the ancient Hepburn stronghold of Waughton castle which had been attacked by Robert Hepburn who "came to the house of Waughton and brake the stables and took out sixteen horses, the laird of Carmichael being captain and said keeper of Waughton. Then issued out the house and slew three of them, and divers were hurt of both parties".
This attack, some years earlier caused the Carmichaels to move to Fenton Tower as Waughton Castle eventually passed to the Hepburns by legal means.
1591 ~ Whilst staying at Falkland Palace King James VI is surrounded by a rebel army led by Stewart Earl of Bothwell. Fortunately, the local towns people rally to the King's support allowing him to flee with his life. Instead of heading to the safety of Stirling castle, King James instead catches the ferry to North Berwick and stays with the loyal Carmichaels at Fenton Tower.
King James is plagued with many abduction attempts throughout his life as just two years earlier Earl Bothwell had plotted to seize the King at Hatton castle.
1600 ~ The Ruthvens of Dirleton castle try to take the King hostage at Perth. In the same year Sir John Carmichael, while carrying out his duties as March Warden is killed during peace talks on the border. King James grants the tower to Sir Thomas Erskine who later becomes Lord Dirleton, Viscount Fenton and later Earle of Kellie.
1631 ~ The tower passes to Sir John Maxwell of Innerwick.
1646 ~ Sir John is appointed Earl of Dirleton.
1650's ~ Fenton Tower is burnt and ravaged by Oliver Cromwell's army during the sacking of Lothian castles.
1663 ~ The land around the ruined tower is sold to Sir John Nisbet.
1850's ~ The land and ruined tower pass to the Simpson family.