In 1611, the first Earl of Home contracted to buy the Hirsel Estate from Sir John Kerr – although it was not until 1621 that King James VI finally granted the lands of Hirsel to James, the 2nd Earl of Home.
Much of the early tree planting and the existence of the earliest part of Hirsel House appear to have been built by about 1620.
The Hirsel was also justifiably famous for its sport, particularly it’s salmon fishing on the river Tweed, where in 1743 the 8th Earl of Home caught a 69lb salmon on a 22’ rod and a horse hair line.
By the mid 1700s the house and gardens had been significantly developed and the 9th Earl of Home embarked on a major programme of forestry and agricultural improvement.
In 1780 Lord Dunglass (his eldest son) died of wounds suffered at the Battle of Guildford in America (at the age of 24) in whose memory an obelisk was erected close to the Montagu drive.
During the 19th Century, after the amalgamation of the Estates, the 11th Earl of Home and his wife, Lady Lucy Elizabeth Montague Douglas, carried out further extensive improvements to the Estate buildings and the Hirsel policies.
The 11th Earl of Home was a politician – he was Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Representative Peer, and Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland. He died in 1881.
A storm in the same year destroyed a significant area of woodland on the Estate and, under the auspices of the 12th Earl of Home, Dundock Wood was planted up with Rhododendrons which has been cared for by subsequent generations of the Family, and enjoyed by the public, ever since.
Further improvements were made to the property between 1895 and 1900, including the erection of a new wing to the Hirsel House, a Chapel, and the building of the stables. By the time of his death in 1918, the 12th Earl had overseen a period of investment (never likely to be seen again) in the fabric of the Estate, which also included the building and equipping of the Coldstream Cottage Hospital for the benefit of the Town and the local area.
The 13th Earl of Home married Lillian Lambton in 1902, daughter of the Earl of Durham, cementing a relationship with another of the major Border families; but, this time from across the Tweed in England - which has no doubt gone some way to preserving the peace between the Scots and the English ever since!
The 14th Earl of Home was born in 1903 educated at Eton and Oxford and, as Lord Dunglass, played first class cricket for Middlesex and the MCC. He joined Parliament in 1931 as MP for Lanark. He was PPS to Neville Chamberlain, witnessing first hand Chamberlain’s failed attempt to avert the Second World War with Hitler.
In 1951, on his father’s death, he became the 14th Earl of Home and, as a consequence, was forced to resign his seat in Parliament.
As Earl of Home, he served in the House of Lords becoming Foreign Secretary in 1960, a post he was to hold again between 1970 and 1974.
In 1963, on the resignation of Harold McMillan, he became Prime Minister and having first renounced his title, served as such, until the election of 1964 as Sir Alec Douglas-Home.
On his death in 1995 (aged 92) after a long and active political life, he was succeeded to the title by his son, David 15th Earl of Home, who is the Chairman of Coutts Bank and responsible for the running of the Estates today.