Visit Banff and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Banff, Aberdeenshire, at the mouth of the Deveron spanned by Smeaton's handsome seven-arched bridge, is a proud old royal burgh that has seen better days. When you consider that no fewer than 40,000 of the Banifers of old lie buried in the kirkyard between the High Shore and Church Street, you begin to realize how long its corporate life has continued without a break. If you have a strongly developed sense of history, you will love Banff. If not, you can still enjoy golf on its fine Duff House Royal course, and sea breezes on the glorious sandy sweep of Banff Links. The town is built on a series of terraces rising up to a cliff-top high above the old harbour, and has an approach road that sweeps round to the South and enters the town by its Georgian “West End”. Having arrived on the line of High Street and Castle Street by means of this easy access, the visitor should park his car on the heights and descend by the stepped pavements of the Strait Path to the heart of the old ttown. As he does so he will retrace the centuries and find all around him the evidence of the original Banff, a trinity of castle, kirk, and commune.
Banff belonged to the Northern Hanse, or league of trading towns, before 1124. Its castle, first built to defend the coast from Viking invasion, was a royal residence early in the 12th century. Curtain walls 144 ft long on the North side guarded the now vanished stronghold on its plateau overlooking the sea, the same site where the 18th century “castle” stands today, while the little town grew up below it in the area now comprising Low Street, Bridge Street, Carmelite Street, High Shore, and Deveronside.
Banff's first charter still extant was granted in 1372, but before 1190 a charter of the Church of Banff had been granted to the monks of Arbroath. The Carmeites built themselves a monastery on the kirk lands, and all the houses on the South side of Carmelite Street are built on the monastery grounds. Before the Reformation, Banff already had its beautiful mercat cross, first mentioned in 1542. The head of this shows carved effigies of the Crucifixion, with St John and the Virgin Mary in front and a figure of the Virgin and Child on the reverse. The present eight-sided shaft of the cross was probably made in 1627. There are many interesting l7th century domestic buildings. Two good examples face each other at the corner of Carmelite Street and High Shore. The 18th century saw the high noon of Banff's vogue as a fashionable resort. By 1775, “high class citizens flitted about in their numerous private carriages paying their morning visits of compliment and sedan chairs were common”. Out of this situation arose the Golden Age of Banff building.
The Town Steeple, that peculiar octagon, was built between 1764 and 1766 — despite the protests of Admiral Gordon, next door, who feared it would fall on his house. The present Banff Castle was built by Lord Deskford in 1750. St Mary's Church dates from 1789, though the fine classical spire was not finished until 50 years later, and Banff Academy, with its Ionic pillars, dates from 1838; it has now been superseded by a modern comprehensive academy West of the town. The greatest piece of architectural virtuosity of them all, Duff House, had been begun by the 1st Earl of Fife in 1735 to designs by William Adam, but only the central block was completed, at a cost of £70,000, when a crack appeared and the Earl went to law with the architect.
The quarrel between the two became so embittered that the Earl refused to live in his fine new house, which was modelled on the Villa Borghese; but it remains one of the handsomest edifices in the north of Scotland. In 1906 the Duke of Fife presented Duff House to the town councils of Banff and Macduff. During the Second World War, while it was housing German prisoners of war, it was bombed by the Nazis. It was handed over to the Ministry of Public Building and Works in 1953. The grounds on the haughland of the Deveron form an attractive public park alongside the Duff House Royal golf course.
At the far end of the Duff House policies (2 miles South of Banff) stretches a picturesque gorge of the Deveron, spanned by the Bridge of Alvah.
The architectural value of Banff's old buildings has been recognized by the creation of the very active Banff Preservation Society.
Nearby towns: Buckie, Fraserburgh, Huntly, Keith, Macduff, Portsoy, Turriff
Nearby villages: Aberchirder, Boyndie, Buchan, Clunie, Cornhill, Crovie, Cullen, Cuminestown, Cushnie, Dunlugas, Fordyce, Gamrie, Gardenstown, Garmond, Gordonstown, Kirktown of Alvah, Longmanhill, Marnoch, Mountblairy, Newbyth, Pennan, Plaidy, Portknockie, Rothiemay, Sandend, Whitehills
Have you decided to visit Banff or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Banff bed and breakfast (a Banff B&B or Banff b and b)
- a Banff guesthouse
- a Banff hotel (or motel)
- a Banff self-catering establishment, or
- other Banff accommodation