The Grande Luz Room is styled in the manner of the inter war years, from around 1925. This room is named for Maria de la Luz de Landa who owned the castle in the 1920’s and was a leading socialite in the area. She was nicknamed ‘The Grande Luz’ in the society pages of the day.
Maria de la Luz de Landa(left) alongside her great granddaughter Rose Leslie (centre). The Grande Luz Room (right).
Lickleyhead was purchased from the Lumsden family in 1922 by Maria’s father, Guillermo De Landa Y Escandón. Perhaps it is coincidence but there may have been some personal connection between the incoming Mexicans and the seller, Hugh Patrick Lumsden, as he had a Spanish-speaking mother. They may have known each other through their Catholic faith. Don Guillermo had been the Governor of Mexico City in the last ten years or so of the de facto dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz and was a major landholder in Mexico prior to the Mexican revolution. It is speculation again, but it seems likely the family fled to the UK to escape the general lawlessness or out of fear of reprisals from the war’s victors. Until his death in 1927, the former governor spent part of each year living in Lickleyhead Castle.
Maria was hardly a young woman by the time she came to Scotland, having been born in 1880 and only inheriting Lickleyhead therefore at the age of 47. She was married initially to fellow Mexican Bernardo Sebastian De Mier Y Cuevas, with whom she had two sons. Both moved with their mother to the UK and served their adopted country with honour. Her eldest, Sebastian was killed in action while serving with the RAF during WW2. Her other son, Guillermo, also served and was made a prisoner of war by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. The boys were college friends of Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, consort to Queen Juliana. The Prince came to stay at Lickleyhead Castle on at least two occasions, first in 1943 and then in 1946.
Maria’s second marriage was to William Arbuthnot-Leslie of Warthill. This marriage brought the Leslie name back to Lickleyhead Castle for the first time since the Middle Ages. With William Leslie, Maria had one further child, also named Maria. This Maria’s children took their mother’s surname after her marriage to Anthony Stainton. It is from this line that actress Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones fame is descended. Lickleyhead Castle was the childhood home of the actress.
The part of the castle in which the Grande Luz sits was built by the Forbes family in the early seventeenth century.