The tower door as it looked in the late 19th century This sketch was taken from Volume 2 of the illustrated surveys of historical architecture prepared by McGibbon & Ross (1887-92)
The castle is entered by the tower doorway, above can be seen the arms of Sir Andrew Kerr and his wife Dame Anna Stewart with the date 1598. In the centre, above is the unfinished date anticipating the completion of refurbishments by Schomberg Kerr the 10th Lord Lothian, the work was never completed, hence the unfinished date. A 16th century ogee decoration adorns the lintel and the whole doorway is framed with a simple 17th century pattern in a style repeated on the fireplace in the Great Hall. To the right of the doorway a graceful red sandstone arch leads to the rear of the castle and the thatched bothy house. The arch was topped with a grey stone during the Schomberg years and features Lord Schomberg’s coat of arms, the arms of his son Robert, who succeeded him can be found above the entrance to the under croft presently containing the Kerr museum displays. The protruding stonework may have been part of a gatehouse, possibly destroyed when the castle was damaged by Ruthven in 1592. In 1598 the Scottish border was not regarded as a safe place to live and noting the door opens inward (a defensive castle door would always open outwards for obvious reasons), it may be assumed the decoration enclosing the door was added after James VI ascended the English throne as James I in 1603, and the Borders began to see the end of the troubles endured for several hundred years.
Entering the castle through the tower door, a broad stone staircase winds left to the 1st floor landing, this early 19th century addition replaces the bottom section of a spiral staircase now winding to the top floor of the tower from the 1st floor. The external feature in the corner between tower and main block accommodates this stair and the bottom shows evidence of alteration. The wood panelling on the staircase includes a light oak gallery in ‘Arts and Crafts’ style installed around 1890. In the original layout this space would have contained apartments. The doorway leading to the spiral stair contains a typical studded strengthened oak door c.1598, the only one of its kind to survive the destruction wreaked upon the castle by the billeted troops during the second world war who burnt a good proportion of the surviving wood features as firewood, this particular doorway survived being the main access to the apartments above occupied by the officers.