Carnasserie Castle

Carnasserie Castle, Kilmartin

Date

23 August 2018

Location

Carnasserie, Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute
NM 83901 00834; 56.15105°N, 5.48078°W

Information

Carnasserie Castle was in its day one of Argyll’s finest Renaissance mansions. The five-storey tower with adjoining three-storey hall was built in the 1560s by John Carswell (c 1522 – 1572), first Protestant Bishop of the Isles (1565 – 1572). The property was entrusted to Carswell by his patron Archibald Campbell (1537 – 1573), 5th Earl of Argyll. Carswell’s main legacy was his publication in Edinburgh in 1567 of the first book ever printed in Gaelic (Irish or Scottish) – this was a translation of John Knox’s Book of Common Order.

The castle was badly damaged in 1685 by Royalist forces in an uprising by Archibald Campbell (c 1629 – 1685), 9th Earl of Aryll, against James VII, in which Campbell was captured and executed. The castle thereafter lay disused and was purchased in the 19th century by the Malcolms of Poltalloch. Today it is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.

Further Reading

Carnasserie Castle (Historic Environment Scotland)

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Inveraray Castle

The entrance porch was designed in 1871 by English architect Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt (1820-1877)

Date

20 August 2018

Location

Inveraray, Argyll and Bute
NN 09555 09313; 56.23806°N, 5.07455°W

Information

The Category A listed Inveraray Castle is set in 6.5 hectares of gardens with the overall estate covering an area of 24,000 hectares. The mansion replaced an earlier 15th-century castle and was designed in 1746 by English architect Roger Morris (1695-1749). The property is located on the shore of Scotland’s longest sea loch, Loch Fyne, and in the 1770s the village of Inveraray was moved in order to secure a more secluded position for the castle.

Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll, the chiefs of Clan Campbell. The dukedom was created in 1701 in the Peerage of Scotland and in 1892 the 8th Duke was also created Duke of Argyll in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

Parts of the castle are open to the public with private apartments being occupied by Torquhil Ian Campbell (b 1968), the 13th and 6th Duke of Argyll, and his family. Campbell is also captain of Scotland’s national elephant polo team.

The castle featured as the fictional Duneagle Castle in the 2012 Christmas special episode of the television series Downton Abbey.

Further Reading

Inveraray Castle

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Harrison’s Garden – Penrhyn Castle

Harrison’s Garden, Penrhyn Castle

Date

4 August 2018

Location

Penrhyn Castle, Llandegai, Bangor
SH 60219 71962; 53.22624°N, 4.09534°W

Information

Harrison’s Garden by Bristol-based installation artist Luke Jerram (b 1974) is an “imagined landscape and garden of clocks”. The ensemble of over 2,000 clocks, many of which were donated by the public, is currently (16 June – 4 November 2018) on display on the derelict third floor of Penrhyn Castle‘s keep as part of its tour of National Trust properties.

The inspiration for the installation was the clockmaker John Harrison (1693 – 1776) who spent much of his life developing a series of marine chronometers in the pursuit of the Longitude Prize. Although the prize was ultimately never awarded, Harrison’s contributions led to major improvements in safety at sea. His timepieces provided a reliable means of keeping a reference time to which the local time, as determined by astronomical observations, could be compared in order to establish a vessel’s position east or west of the Greenwich meridian.

Further Reading

Penrhyn Castle;
More posts in the Penrhyn Castle Series

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Powis Castle – Roman Emperors

Vitellus [sic] Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Augustus
CE 15 – 69, Roman Emperor for eight months in CE 69

The Herbert family bought a total of 12 marble busts of Roman emperors in the 17th century as souvenirs of their trips to Italy. Each bust weighs 150 kg.

Date

23 August 2017

Location

Powis Castle, Welshpool
SJ 21494 06513; 52.65063°N, 3.16188°W

Information

Powis Castle

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Dover Castle

Inside the Keep, or Great Tower, built by Henry II c 1181-88

Inside the Keep, or Great Tower, built by Henry II c 1181-88

Date

25 October 2016

Location

Dover, Kent
TR 32666 41886; 51.12896°N, 1.32391°E

Information

Dover Castle – the largest in England – is a Grade I listed building and is owned by English Heritage. Its strategically important location on a clifftop overlooking Dover Strait in the English Channel was the site of an Iron Age hillfort. A lighthouse – the oldest still surviving in the UK – was also built there by the Romans in the 2nd century. Much of the existing castle was built by Henry II in the 12th century. Major additions were built at the end of the 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars and a network of tunnels beneath the clifftop were excavated to serve as barracks to house the extra troops stationed there at that time. During World War II the tunnels housed an underground hospital and a command centre, from where Vice-Admiral Ramsay led Operation Dynamo to rescue British and French troops stranded at Dunkirk.

Further Reading

Dover Castle (Wikipedia);
Dover Castle (English Heritage);
More posts in the Dover series

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Dumbarton Castle

Dumbarton Castle

Dumbarton Castle. 5,500 years ago Dumbarton Rock, which is a plug of volcanic basalt, was an island. As glacial ice disappeared the land rose up and when settled by humans the land around the rock was reclaimed and protected from the sea.

Date

24 August 2016

Location

Dumbarton
NS 39981 74409; 55.93600°N, 4.56332°W

Information

With a strategic position overlooking the Clyde, Dumbarton Rock has been home to fortifications of the Britons, Vikings and Scots for over 1500 years.

Dumbarton Castle is a Category A listed building and is in the care of Historical Environment Scotland.

Further Reading

Dumbarton Castle (Historical Environment Scotland);
Dumbarton Castle (Wikipedia)

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Weeping Window, Perth

Weeping Window, Black Watch Castle and Museum

Weeping Window, Black Watch Castle and Museum

Date

22 August 2016

Location

The Black Watch Castle and Museum, Perth
NO 11438 24358; 56.40311°N, 3.43659°W

Information

The ceramic-poppy art installation Weeping Window, created by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper as part of the 2014 Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London, was on display at The Black Watch Castle and Museum in Perth from 30 June until 25 September 2016.

The Black Watch was formed as an infantry regiment in 1881 and since 2006 has been a battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. During the First World War almost 9,000 soldiers of the Black watch lost their lives and a further 20,000 were wounded.

Perth’s Balhousie Castle, which dates back to the 12th century, became the home of the Black Watch’s regimental headquarters and museum during a re-organisation of the Army in the 1960s. An appeal was launched in 2008 to purchase and develop the castle as a permanent home for the museum and redevelopment started in 2012 with the museum re-opening in 2013.

Further Reading

Weeping Window… by day (Liverpool);
Weeping Window… by night (Liverpool);
The Black Watch Castle and Museum

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Lowther Castle

Lowther Castle

Lowther Castle

Date

30 July 2016

Location

Penrith, Cumbria
NY 52298 23805; 54.60713°N, 2.74002°W

Information

The site of Lowther Castle was the ancestral home of the Lowther family, which took its name from the River Lowther running through their lands. Around 1390 Sir High Lowther built a fortified tower with a beacon on top to warn of the approach of invading Scottish armies. Sir John Lowther rebuilt the tower as a country house in 1630 and this was demolished and replaced by a new mansion in 1691 by John Lowther (1655-1700), 1st Viscount Lonsdale. The mansion was partly destroyed by a fire in 1718 and was in turn demolished in 1805 and replaced by the present castle. This was built between 1806 and 1814 by William Lowther (1757-1844), 1st Earl of Lonsdale (second creation), and was designed by London architect Robert Smirke (1780-1867), who also designed the British Museum.

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Fatlips Castle

Fatlips Castle

Fatlips Castle

Date

26 August 2015

Location

Minto Craigs, Scottish Borders
NT 58201 20870; 55.47982°N, 2.66288°W

Information

 

Fatlips Castle

“The original pele tower was built by the Turnbulls of Bedrule in the early 16th century, before being effectively destroyed by the Earl of Hertford in 1545. Very little remained.

“The castle was re-built in its current format in 1857 by the Elliots of Minto. It was modified to designs by the famous architect, Sir Robert Lorimer, in 1897 for the 4th Earl of Minto and was used as a museum until the late 1960s when it was closed and secured.

“The origin of the name is uncertain, but one idea is that it derives from the look of Turnbull of Barnhills. There are other stories, including that of a goat on the dunion which warned of the approaching English, or that gentlemen were traditionally allowed to kiss one of the ladies on entering.

“In 2011 Tweed Forum, with funding from Historic Scotland, the Elliots of Minto and Scottish Borders Council, commenced consolidation caused by major vandalism. The work was completed in March 2013 to the original Lorimer design.”

— Information plaque

Further Reading

Fatlips Castle
(Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland)
;
Fatlips Castle (Wikipedia)

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Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle

Gwrych Castle

Date

19 July 2015

Location

Abergele, Conwy
SH 92909 77524; 53.28382°N, 3.60778°W

Information

The original 12th-century Norman castle at Gwrych was rebuilt by the Welsh prince Rhys ap Gruffydd later in the century, and was destroyed in the 17th century by the Roundheads during the English Civil War. The current Gothic-Revival folly was built from 1819 to 1825 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh on the site of an Elizabethan house belonging to his mother’s forebears the Lloyds of Gwyrch.

Lloyd’s son Robert Bamford-Hesketh (1826-1894) left the property to his daughter and sole heir Winifred Bamford-Hesketh (1859-1924), who in 1878 had become the Countess of Dundonald upon her arranged marriage to Douglas Mackinnon Baillie Hamilton Cochrane (1852-1935), 12th Earl of Dundonald. When they married, Cochrane was a Captain in the British Army and was later to rise to the rank of Lieutenant General. He served in the First Boer War (1880-1881), the Second Boer War (1899-1902), in which he was Commander of the Mounted Brigade, and the First World War (1914-1918). The couple had two sons and three daughters. Cochrane, however, spent most of his time in his native Scotland while Winifred lived at Gwrych Castle until her death in 1924, when she left the property to King George V. The bequest was, however, refused and the property passed to the Welsh Church. Cochrane later bought the castle back for £70,000, an acquisition that was financed by subsequently selling off its contents.

During the Second World War Gwrych was requisitioned by the Government and served as a hostel run by Jewish youth movement Bnei Akiva to house 200 refugee children saved by the ‘British Schindler’ Sir Nicholas Winton (1909-2015) as part of operation Kindertransport.

The 13th Earl of Dundonald sold the property in 1946 for £12,000 to Robert Rennie and two years later it was bought by Leslie Salts who opened the castle to the public for 20 years as ‘The Showplace of Wales’. In the 1950s world middleweight champion Randolph Turpin trained in the castle for his re-match against Sugar Ray Robinson. In the subsequent period up until its final closure in 1985 it had a number of different owners and in the 1970s it served as a venue for medieval banquets, markets and jousting.

Nick Tavaglione, an American businessman, bought the castle in 1989 with plans to convert it into a hotel and opera house. These were never realised though and the abandoned castle subsequently fell into disrepair with damage from travellers and vandals. In 1998 its roof and floors collapsed and it was later ravaged by fire, leaving only the shell of the structure standing. In 2007 it was bought by Clayton Hotels who intended to convert it into a 5-star hotel. However, having spent £500,000 on the site, the company later went into administration and the castle was sold in April 2010 to family-run business Edwards Property Management (EPM-UK), which had been founded in 2005 as a holiday-lettings management company.

EPM-UK together with its sister company Castell Developments were granted detailed planning permission in 2013 for plans for a £25 million scheme to convert the castle into a 77-bedroom luxury country house hotel and spa. The enterprise is currently seeking financial backers for the project.

Architectural historian and author Mark Baker, who had published his first book on the history of Gwrych Castle at age 13, founded A Society for the Friends of Gwrych in 1997, which was renamed the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust and registered as a charity in 2001. The Trust was set up to raise awareness of the castle and to work towards securing a solution for its restoration and it facilitated the 2007 sale of the property. With the cooperation of the current owners and financial support from the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Trust has embarked upon a three-year project to renovate the castle outbuildings and convert the Melon House and conservatory into a visitor centre. Clearance work for this started in March 2014 and the first building to be restored, the Gardeners’ Tower, was available for viewing by the public in an open weekend in July 2015. It took 10 volunteers six months to restore the tower, the first floor of which had been used as a writing room by Winifred Bamford-Hesketh, with its basement serving as the gardeners’ mess.

Gwyrch Castle is a Grade I listed building.

Further Reading

Gwrych Castle (2010);
Gwrych Castle (Wikipedia);
Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust;
Reopening Abergele’s Gwrych Castle ‘a dream come true’ (BBC News, 18 July 2015)

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