Taymouth Castle

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Taymouth in winterThe Campbells of Breadalbane were one of Scotland's greatest landowning families. At its height their estate extended to 437,696 acres and was over 100 miles long. From Aberfeldy it was possible to reach the west coast of Scotland without leaving the Breadalbane's land and at its core lay Taymouth, a vast baronial castle, built at the height of the family's power.

Photos by Keith Mitchell

taymouth castleAlthough the present building largely dates from the 19th century, Taymouth stands on the site of the ancient Balloch Castle which was built in 1550 for Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. His son, known as Black Duncan of the Castles, was responsible for the erection or aggrandizement of six castles on the Estate. Towards the end of the 17th century the family fell on hard times. Later the first Earl, known as a doubtful Jacobite and described as "as brave as a Spaniard, cunning as a fox, wise as a serpent and slippery as an eel", used these various talents to recover the family prosperity. By the turn of the century the family fortunes had sufficiently improved to finance the erection of Taymouth Castle

castleThe main core of Taymouth in many ways replicates Inverary, the seat of the Senior Campbell, Duke of Argyll, but with its large extensions and superb embellishments, is of a scale and and quality unknown elesewhere in Scotland. Much of the Estate was completed by September 1842 when Lord Breadalbane entertained Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort. In her diaries the Queen described her reception. "There were a number of Lord Breadalbane's Highlanders, all in the Campbell tartan, drawn up in front of the house, with Lord Breadalbane himself in a Highland dress at their head, a few of Sir Niall Menzie's men (in the Menzie's red and white tartan), a number of the pipers playing, and a company of the 92 Highlanders also in kilts. The firing of the guns, the cheering of the great crowd, the picturesqueness of the dresses, the beauty of the surrounding country with its rich background of wooded hills, altogether formed one of the finest scenes imaginable. It seemed as if a great chieftan in old and feudal times was receiving his sovereign."

 

The Breadalbane Estates were broken up shortly after the Great War. Much was sold to sporting tenants or local farmers and Taymouth itself was eventually purchased by The Taymouth Castle Hotel Company Ltd. Prior to the Second World War the castle was operated as a hotel, and at this time, the deer park was developed into a magnificent golf course

The castle was requisitioned by the Government during the Second World War and was used as a convalescent home. After the war the Authorities turned it into a headquarters for Civil Defence Training in Scotland. For a short period it was used as a school for the children of American servicemen.

Taymouth Castle is believed to be the most important Scottish castle remaining in private ownership. Its public rooms are outstanding examples of the opulence and refinement created by the best architects and craftsmen of the early 19th century. The central building with its cloistered colonnade and corner towers, dates from 1806 and was built by James and Archibald Elliot. Within the central tower Francis Bernasconi, acknowledged as the greatest designer of fine plaster work in that era created a central staircase that soars 100 feet through all 4 storeys of the tower. It is one of the most impressive staircases in Britain. Many of the ceilings were painted by Cornelius Dixon

The present owners have tried to ensure that the Castle is kept in good order. Many hundreds of thousands have been spent on the main roof. Mr. Norman Chalmers the caretaker received an MBE in 1998 for services to the nation. Sadly modern safety regulations preclude the opening of the Castle to the public
 
 
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