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Culzean Castle
Culzean Bay, South Ayrshire, UK
associated engineer
Not known
date  1777 - circa 1790
era  Georgian  |  category  Castle  |  reference  NS231102
There has been a fortified tower at Culzean (pronounced 'Cullane') since the 15th century or perhaps before. Architect Robert Adam designed the castle we see today for David Kennedy, 10th Earl of Cassillis. A causeway viaduct leads to its isolated location.
Adam transformed the original 'L' shaped tower house into a grand castle in four stages over 15 years. All the construction used local stone, to an exterior style that mixed classical with gothic.
First, in 1777 Adam added a new three storey wing to one side of the existing building forming a 'U’ shaped mansion. A kitchen block was added to the Earl's Wing (built sometime between 1762 and 1775 by David’s elder brother Thomas, 9th earl).
In 1779, the Earl’s Wing was modified with a round brewhouse, a milkhouse and bedrooms being added to its west end. The Earl’s Wing was demolished in 1785 and a drum tower was built in its place, flanked by rooms either side. This new tower brought the focus of the castle to the cliff edge, looking seaward towards the Isle of Arran rather than inland.
The drum tower, though impressive, had created a dark well in the central courtyard of the castle. In 1787, Adam created an oval staircase within this space and topped it with a domed cupola to let in light from all directions.
Adam’s classical interior is equally magnificent — with moulded plasterwork ceilings, Ionic and Corinthian columns, and a circular drawing room in the drum tower. However, the cost of the project bankrupted the 10th earl and the estate was only rescued from ruin when wealthy American cousins inherited it in 1792.
The Adam brewhouse was replaced in 1875-78 by a westward extension and terraced walls were added south and east of the castle.
The castle remained in the Kennedy family until 1945, when it was donated to the National Trust for Scotland. In the donation was the request that a top floor apartment be given to General Dwight D. Eisenhower as a thank you from the Scottish people for his help during World War II (1939-45). He visited the castle four times, once as President of the USA.
In 1969, a 228 hectare portion of the estate was designated Scotland's first country park. The castle is the most visited property owned by the Scottish National Trust.
Architect: Robert Adam
Architect (1875-8): Wardrop and Reid
Research: ECPK

Culzean Castle