Designed by Scottish über-architect William Adam in 1740, Duff House is a majestic, Georgian stone-built mansion with an ornate Baroque exterior that is equally matched by the splendour and proportions of its interior. The owner was William Duff of Braco, who wanted his house to reflect his status as a great Scottish landowner and Earl of Fife, but his aristocratic descendants fell on hard times and over time the house became little more than a shell.
In the 20th century, Duff House was by turn a hotel, a sanatorium and a prisoner-of-war camp. In 1995 fortune returned when it was bought by the National Galleries of Scotland and completely refurbished; today its magnificently reworked façade hides a repository of a superb collection of Renaissance, and Scottish art as well as antique furniture.
Duff House is surrounded by a great estate of landscaped gardens and woodland; scattered around the acreage is a Georgian icehouse, ornamental follies and a decorative mock-Gothic mausoleum. Keen hikers can cover the five-mile (8 km) circular walk from here to the historic Bridge of Alvah over the River Deveron, built in 1773 and spanning a deep ravine at Canmore.
The Duff Estate House is open April to October daily 11am–5pm; November-March Thur–Sun 11am–4pm. Admission for adults is £7.10; seniors & students are £5.70; children aged 5–15 are £4.30. Admission is free with the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass. Duff House is off the A947/97 on the eastern edge of Banff. It is best accessed by car and there is free parking on site.