The Scottish Baronial style Ayton Castle is situated near the village of Ayton, just a few miles north-west of the English border.The current castle is predominately from the 1800s, but is built around a tower house from the 15th century.
Ayton Castle was originally a peel tower – a small fortified tower house which acted as a watch tower – and a stronghold of Clan Home who inherited it and the lands through marriage.
For a period during 1497, the English held the fortress, but left after the negotiation of the treaty of Ayton, signed on 30 September at a nearby church.
The tower was replaced at some point by a classical mansion, which burnt down in 1834. The estate was purchased by William Mitchell (later known as Mitchell-Innes). Born in Belhelvie, in Aberdeenshire, in 1778, worked at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh. Between 1808 and 1827 he was the Chief Cashier, and then between 1840 and 1841 he was an extraordinary director of the bank. Mitchell-Innes inherited the Ayton estate sometime between 1841 and 1853 and was recorded as William Mitchell-Innes of Ayton Castle, an ordinary directory.
James Gillespie Graham was commissioned by Mitchell-Innes in 1851 to build the red sandstone castle that stands now. William Mitchell-Innes died in 1860, and his eldest son who inherited the estate continued to build and make further extensions during the 1860s and ’70s, including a new parish church by James Maitland Wardrop.
In 1873 the American writer Mark Twain visited Ayton Castle. Twain was very taken with the dining room fireplace mantel and insisted on purchasing. He took the mantel back to the US and it still sits in his house which is now a museum dedicated to the writer.