Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

From transforming 60 homes to being served by Gordon Ramsay: What it’s like to live in a castle on a Royal Deeside estate

Andrew and Nicola Bradford at Kincardine Castle and Estate. Supplied by Deeside Photo.
Andrew and Nicola Bradford at Kincardine Castle and Estate. Supplied by Deeside Photo.

After announcing their retirement, a Royal Deeside couple who have fronted Kincardine Castle and Estate for over four decades have described a life of both frustration and luxury.

Andrew Edward Hanning Bradford and wife Nicola Barbara Bradford moved into Kincardine Castle at the young age of 24 and 22, tasked with rebuilding an estate unchanged since the Second World War.

Now aged 66 and 63, the couple provide 61 affordable rented houses on their estate and have been hosts to the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Clio Gould during their “world-class” hospitality events.

Before officially taking over management in 1979, Mr Bradford began his work at the castle when he and a sibling would lift a bale of hay between themselves at the age of just five.

Andrew and Nicola Bradford at Kincardine Castle and Estate. Supplied by Deeside Photo.

Taking on casual work during his high school years, Mr Bradford explained: “I started farming in 1976 and in 1979 I was asked to take over the management of the estate.

“Obviously they were very different times, I suppose the most surprising thing for people was that rent controls from 1915 were still operating so houses were still on the rent that they had been established at.

“I had tenants from before the Second World War. One of them was paying £4 per year in rent which may have been enough in 1920 but it really wasn’t enough to improve a property in 1979.

“It was hardly surprising that every property was in a pretty difficult state of disrepair.

“Today the estate has more properties than it had in 1979. We provide a latest count of 61 affordable rented houses.

Kincardine Castle and Estate. Supplied by Deeside Photo.

“There are so many different aspects to the job but I think it’s fascinating. I have probably been a counsellor, I have been a confidant, I have shared in tragedy and I have shared in triumph of the people who have been tenants of our houses.

“So to some extents we have been part of an extended family”.

While Mr Bradford’s family have owned the estate for several generations, the huge responsibility of managing both a castle and an estate came as quite the surprise to Nicola who “thought she was marrying a farmer”.

She said: “We got married in 1978, I thought I was marrying a farmer because that is what he was then. It only became apparent that he was going to inherit the estate after a year or two.

“We were very young and the responsibility and the the idea that we might be inheriting such an enormous challenge and project didn’t really phase me at all.”

Moving into the castle itself in 1982, the couple were also forced to tackle parts of the building which “had been effectively abandoned for half a century” – adding 14 bathrooms and transforming the venue into the “world-class” hospitality destination it is today.

Andrew and Nicola Bradford at Kincardine Castle and Estate. Supplied by Deeside Photo.

Speaking of some of his highlights, Mr Bradford said: “It is all people related – those are the best moments.

“There was the marvelous moment I sat down at my dining room table and it just dawned on me that this was a wonderful gathering and that I was effectively being paid to eat Gordon Ramsey’s food and drink every glass of extremely fine Claremont wine.

“We have had numerous famous chefs cooking here and that has been great fun.

“In the drawing room we have had Clio Gould playing her stradivarius and Verlon Thompson playing his guitar in the great hall.

“Equally we’ve had some leading businessmen coming to stay for meetings and things.

“It’s magic moments and a tremendous privilege to have people like that come to stay and to share moments with them.”

Andrew and Nicola Bradford at Kincardine Castle and Estate. Supplied by Deeside Photo.

Despite assuring that they “are not disappearing completely,” the couple announced their retirement in a statement on Monday.

Saying it will be “hard to let go” of their roles, Mr Bradford said: “Time marches on but it is not that. You will have to take my word for it but you need an enormous amount of passion to look after an estate, to look after a council as big as this one.

“It’s a continuous seven day a week job and responsibility. My concern is if our grandchildren grow up to think of this place simply as grandad and granny’s house then they will not be likely to have the passion sufficient to look after it when their turn comes”.

It means Mr and Mrs Bradford will pass over the reins to son Edward, wife Rosa and their children at the end of the month who are preparing for “business as usual” once Covid-19 restrictions allow them to do so.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from the Press and Journal News team

More from the Press and Journal