Culzean Castle is a 19th-century stately home in Ayrshire, Scotland. It has been described by Historic Scotland as “one of the finest examples of French Renaissance architecture to be found in Scotland”.
The castle is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is open to visitors year round.
The architect was Robert Lugar who was a friend of the Kennedy family and had designed several buildings for them. He used as his inspiration for Culzean the Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley.
As well as its unusual French Renaissance style, the castle is also notable for having no right angles. It contains four floors and 26 rooms, including 11 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 3 staircases, and a banqueting hall which can accommodate 100 people. The walls are 13 feet thick in places.
The castle is built on a promontory by the sea, and the top of the building is exposed to a powerful gale. The mullioned windows are far apart to minimise damage from the wind.
The castle was completed in 1867 and cost £70,000 at the time. The original furniture was the work of leading Scottish artisans including Mackenzie and Fraser. The furniture is now on display at Culzean Castle, with some pieces on loan to other museums in Scotland.
In 1913 HM King George V visited Culzean Castle with Queen Mary, and their stay is remembered by a plaque in the castle.
During World War II the Admiralty requisitioned Culzean Castle as an officer’s training college; it gave accommodation to 180 men until August 1944 when they moved out for the arrival of American troops. The rooms were then stripped of furniture and wall panelling in preparation for being used as a hospital.
After the war it was returned to the Kennedys who sold it to a hotelier. He planned to convert it into a luxury hotel but did not have sufficient money and sold it on.
In 1956 it was purchased by Sir Fitzroy Maclean, a well-known former diplomat, who spent £100,000 restoring the castle to its original condition. He also added an extension which includes an art gallery and 36-seat cinema.
Culzean Castle is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and is open to visitors year round.
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