Friday, 4 October 2013

Kinnaird Castle

It is salutary to keep abreast of other baronial piles in the area, :-) so I was delighted to visit Kinnaird Castle on Sunday 15th September with three friends under the Angus Open Doors Scheme. 

the Open Doors tickets

Kinnaird (many times the size of Balintore) is in private ownership, so the opportunity was not to be missed and I was decidedly in my element. :-) Although, I would say that many of the fancy detailings depart from the Baronial style so much, that it becomes more "generic country house froth" and while greatly enjoyable, they are not artistically pure.

I especially loved the 1400's part of the building. It felt warm and dry in the castle even in the ground floor mediaeval vaulting - and the housekeeper said that contrary to expectations "It's by no means a cold building". Also warm was the Servant's Hall so it was interesting to compare this with Balintore's freezing equivalent.

I was checking out all the wood strip floors in the interior, as I am currently trying to source reclaimed wooden flooring. The wooden floors look great at Kinnaird, despite not all being in the best of condition - so I was reassured on the reclaim option - my reclaim stuff is in slightly better condition. :-)

We were graciously shown round by the Earl of Southesk. He is set to inherit the Duke of Fife title on his father's death. My thanks go to him, and indeed everyone who made the visit possible.

There was a huge fire in 1921: fortunately most of the contents were saved with the locals carrying things out the building, but the interior was destroyed, Given the date, things were put back somewhat simpler that before, and the woodwork was not at that Victorian apex of craftsmanship.

Fascinatingly, not all the rooms have been restored since the fire. The library is still a shell but an absolutely magnificent space - the biggest room in the castle that we saw. It was roofed after the fire and is now used as a badminton court, Another unrestored reception room is now used for cricket, complete with the run, bails and netting round the room!

The Earl seemed to be most taken with the Georgian incarnation of the castle, and at one stage said "Sadly, it had a Victorian make-over". I smiled inwardly, as the Victorian make-over is what, for me, makes the building so fantastic. There is still prejudice against the Victorian.

It was encouraging for the long haul restoration, that I am engaged with at Balintore, to see a huge Baronial building in use as a comfortable home. There was a particularly lovely drawing room, with sunlight streaming in through the window. Amongst the antique furniture and paintings, were a collection of board games - it was clear the owners love spending time there.

The only downside of the visit was seeing the Kinnaird Castle gong. I thought my recently acquired antique gong was as large as you could get. Gong envy is such an ugly emotion.

I thought the entrance façade was massive, with an astoundingly monumental porte-cochère

entrance façade and porte-cochère

That was until I saw the even larger garden façade.  The derelict library is behind the tall windows on the right hand side.

garden façade 

My envy on a-spying the gryphon waterspouts was unbridled.

gryphon waterspouts

Can you decipher the name of the cryptically encoded name(s) of the architect(s)? This is your "Dan Brown" challenge. I failed! The date is very close to Balintore's 1860, so no doubt the rival architects were aware of each other.

can you work out the architects ?

 The stable block at the back is totally charming:

stable block

The stable block was built just before the main Victorian "make-over", is smaller scale and has a sense of whimsy,

stable hopper head  - dated 1854

Loved this curved door by the stable. No wiser words on children were ever uttered, than by this sign.

curved door with child flap

What an amazing finial on this tower by the stables - note the central thistle! 

finial fantasy
Thanks go to my friend Andrew for taking the photos. I didn't even have a camera phone with me, so shamefully gave Andrew orders!


  1. The first name is DAVID, but the second appears to consist of P C Y B? K? R? and is therefore eastern European:-)

    1. Mystery was finally solved by a friend. You are 75% there. The name of the architect is David Bryce.