Melsetter House

Melsetter House is a private home overlooking the bay of Longhope. The current house was built, incorporating an earlier property, in the late 1890’s by the famous Arts & Crafts architect William Richard Lethaby; the garden is reputed to be one of the oldest in Orkney.


Melsetter was originally the home of the Moodie family who owned much of Walls from the late 1500’s until around 1820; the Moodie burial place is in the Longhope Cemetery below the RNLI Memorial.

The house and chapel are open to visitors Fridays and Saturdays during May, June and September by appointment only. Contact 01856 791 352.

18 thoughts on “Melsetter House

  1. The Moodie family are my forebares through my paternal mothers line. I carry the middle name of Heddle which was a former surname within the genealogy believed to have come from the Vikings of the Heddal valley in Norway.
    I would like to come and visit sometime in the foreseeable future. I hope this would be acceptable.

  2. Hi Ewan!
    Thought you might be interested with these details if you don’t have them already. I too hope to visit Melsetter House & Burial place on Hoy in July 2016 as I believe my ancestors are connected to. Cheers.

    Henrietta Heddle (born Moodie)
    Circa 1794 – Melsetter, Orkney, Scotland
    July 2 1833 – Edinburgh, Scotland
    James Moodie, Elizabeth Moodie (born Dunbar)
    … Moodie, Thomas Moodie, Donald Moodie, John Wedderburn Dunbar Moodie, Jessie (Janet) Nicholson (born Moodie), James Wedderburn Dunbar Moodie

    • They are definitely related. I will get my records out at the weekend and share which are. I know we have cousins in Dunbar whose name is Robertson.
      You my like to connect via email so I can send you more details.

  3. Melsetter House is a private home but is open to the public by appointment only, please call 01856 791352 to arrange a visit.

  4. Our family is related to the Moodies through Susanna Strickland, who married John Moodie. My wife and I had the pleasure of having a meal with Elsie Streeter at Melstter in September, 2011

    We are told that Elsie died recently, and would love to see her obituary, as she was the de facto custodian of the various Moodie properties on Hoy

    • Hi Peter,
      I’m was interested to see your comments as my 2 times Great Grandfather was James Moodie born 1850 and married Elizabeth Sutherland but she died after they had a daughter, Isabella Sutherland Moodie. I know his father was John Moodie and think his mother was Barbara or Elizabeth Dunbar. I haven’t the family tree with me atm so can’t look at the details. Both James Moodie and daughter Isabella came to Australia in 1890 era and he remarried to my 2 times Great Grandmother, Jane McCall on 25 December 1895 in Brisbane QLD Australia, from memory. I would like to learn more about the Moodie family from Hoy as we were told the family came from there although I believe James Moodie was born in Thurso. We visited last year FNS and went over to the Orkneys but hadn’t allowed enough time to get to Hoy as it isn’t easy to access. If anyone has a Moodie family tree to share that includes James Moodie born 1850 I would be extremely pleased to see it. With thanks.

      • Hi Peter,
        Just saw your comments when I was looking for info on Melsetter House.
        Henrietta Moodie (father Major James Moodie 1757-1820 and mother Elizabeth Dunbar 1760-1789) was my g-g-g-grandmother. She married Robert Heddle of Cleats (1780-1842). Her daughter Elizabeth Dunbar Heddle eloped at 16 with John Heddle Traill and had two children, dying at only 21. One was my g-g-grand mother Henrietta Traill and the other was Henry Traill who went to Australia and part founded the Sydney Bulletin amonst other things.
        I have more Moodie family tree if you want it.

  5. My wife Mary Jane Tobiason is the daughter of the late Arthur Harold Moody of Michigan. As we believe Mary Jane is related to the Melsetter Moodies, we visited the Library in Kirkwall where we found a great book on the Moodies written by Elsie. That lead us to a visit of Melsetter and the Moodie Mausoleum in 2009. Elsie gave us a tour of Melsetter. Sorry to hear of Elsie’s passing. A Robert Moody of Scotland was a Quartermaster on Captain James Cook’s second exploration of the Pacific. Wonder if he is related to the Orkney Moodies?

  6. Very sorry to hear Melsetter House is no longer open (by appointment) to the public. Should that change – or should you be willing to consider a visit at any time, please could you let me know? I would be keen to visit as part of any group (Historic House Assoc etc.) which might take place. Many thanks, T

    • Hi Toby,

      We have been informed that Melsetter House is closed to the public for the foreseeable future, however, if things change, we will endeavour to keep people updated via our website.

      Kind Regards


  7. Hi
    My name is Thomas Moodie from Greenock , and i am trying to trace my family tree, my fathers name was william and my mums annie, it has took me to orkney , i wonder if you could point me in the right direction and some info on the anything that might be helpful

  8. I am so disappointed that Melsetter House is closed. My family is closely linked to the Moodie trek that settled in Rhodesia, and named their town Melsetter, in the 1800s. I was just in the process of making travel arrangements to visit Orkney and Melsetter….

  9. Hello Lavinia Vaughen
    My g g grandmother was also Henrietta Traill. I met a Vaughen lady at a house sale years ago who said the Vaughens were related to me. My grandmother was Brenda Traill Skae, sister of one who married a Vaughen. When visiting Orkney a few days ago I had fun at the Family Archive at the Library in Kirkwall, discovering that Elizabeth Heddle Traill had eloped with her cousin – I don’t think I found out she was only 16 and died at 21! Sadly I never got to Melsetter.

  10. I used to visit Hoy as a child and we stayed in the Lodge to Melsetter House. At that time (1960s) the family in the house were Seatters, the farm was run by Groats. Are these families still on Hoy?

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