Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Intactus Orielus

Many thanks to the friends who emailed this scanned image to me today. This is the first time I have seen a detailed picture of the dining room's oriel window. Given that this collapsed around 14 years ago, this photograph is as invaluable resource for reconstruction.

I've just shown my builder. His response was "That's horrible, looks like it has just been stuck on as an afterthought!". Interestingly, this is also how my architect (and an expert on the castle's architect William Burn) feels.

The previous image I had seen, a postcard from the 1920's with a distant view of this east elevation, did not make the oriel look quite as bad. Because the oriel is picked out by sunlight here, it looks even more detached from the main structure. The story of why the oriel window collapsed, a much speculated-upon conundrum, deserves a blog entry to itself.

In a similar vein, if anyone reading this has any interior images of Balintore Castle, please, please get in touch! I am trying to stay very faithful to the original look of the building.

Oriel Window at Balintore Pre-collapse.

Gosh, this Internet thing is kool! An hour after posting this blog entry, a friend alerted me to this further image on the Web of the oriel window:

Another Oriel Image Pre-collapse.
I would have to pay for a non-watermarked, high-resolution copy, but the information is out there.


  1. Hi David
    The Orielus window does indeed appear somewhat of an afterthought, especially to such an otherwise plain façade. That said, being such a die-hard William Burn fan I have to say that I love this quirky addition! It gives great character and the East front simply wouldn’t be the same without it. Presumably it would have enhanced the views from that corner of the dining room, maybe this could have been part of the reason for building it? The fire-escape-esque iron stairs which I’ve noticed in other old photographs are another matter however! I wonder when they date from.
    I’d also be intrigued to discover what led to the window's collapse. It seems odd given that it wasn’t entirely suspended, but from this photo appears to have been fairly well supported from beneath.

    I have sourced three interior photographs of the castle from a Library in Edinburgh. I think they’re from around 1968 and show the castle in an empty and somewhat dilapidated state, but still give a good idea of the sort of interior features originally installed in the Castle. Incidentally one of these is taken in the dining room showing the interior of the Orielus window!

    1. Hi Duncan, I have seen a set of plans for the castle, where the oriel window here is actually a bay window and IMHO this looked a lot batter. This has led people to speculate that a last minute change in design, possibly by the client, led to a structure that was less well thought through structurally.

      However, you are correct - the collapse was actually not a design flaw! I'll out the true explanation in another blog entry.

      If there's any way you could send me these images I would be very appreciative. :-) I have seen two small digital images: one of the grand saloon and one of the oak spiral staircase in the great tower. I have seen none of the dining room. I'm delighted you are also a Burn fan. I've tried to restore a number of his buildings without realising who the architect was - then someone pointed out to me that what the buildings had in common was the architect! :-)

    2. It sounds as though you've already seen two of the three pictures I spoke of, but ofcourse I would be happy to share the dining room image with you. How is best to get it to you?
      The second photograph of the Orielus window you posted is by one of my favourite photographers, Simon Marsden, who sadly died earlier this year. I was lucky enough to meet him last year and we spoke of Balintore. He specialized in the supernatural and told me one of his most convincing experiences took place after photographing the castle in the 80s. It is featured in one of his numerous books along with a tale of the suspected ghostly encounter!
      This was actually the very photo that introduced me to Balintore several years ago, I'm glad you now know of it :-)

    3. Sorry to hear about Simon Marsden. Someone gave me a photocopy of a couple of pages from a book, which describes a Balintore Castle ghost, so I am wondering if perhaps this was his book? In fact, from memory the photograph in the book is not dissimilar to his image, so perhaps I do know it after all.

      It was fantastic to have a written-down ghost story for Balintore. I have been collecting these and it tallied with one I had already heard. At one stage I will put my ghost story collection on the blog.

      Yes, I suspect the internal images we are discussing are the ones on the RCHAMS site. I prefer digital scans as these don't get lost. If you are on Facebook, you can connect to me as "MrBalintore".

  2. I admit to not loving this window but I suppose that you have to put it back at one point. I would plant Something like a rhododenron at its base to give it more visual weight.