Location: South Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Estate Houses and Castles in South Ayrshire
The town of Ayr is a good central starting point to explore the estate houses and castles in the region. While most historical places from hundreds of years past are now in ruins, the picturesque beauty of the architecture, and the stories of the people that once owned these wonderful resources in South Ayrshire is worth exploring on a day trip by car.
10 Doonfoot Rd, Ayr
Current Status: Ruins; Grounds open
Built by Sir William Arrol (1839-1913), he started as a blacksmith, then a boiler maker who then became an engineer and went on to design and build bridges such as the Tay Bridge, Forth Railway Bridge, then the Tower Bridge over the Thames in London.
His house of 35 rooms sits in ruin today on a wooded area known as Arrol Park
Rozelle House, Museum, and Galleries
Monument Road, Alloway; Just across from Belleisle Golf Course
Current Status: Open to Public
Originally sitting on property owned by the Royal Burgh of Ayr as part of the Barony of Alloway, the 96 acre property was bought by Robert Hamilton in 1754. He was co-owner of two plantations in Jamaica, one of which was called "La Rochelle' (Rozelle). Robert and his family left Jamaica in 1744 and returned to Ayrshire where he built this mansion and named it 'Rozelle" after his plantation.
University Avenue, Off Craigie Way, Ayr
Current Status: House not open to the public; Grounds are open
The land was originally occupied by a 13th century castle. It was owned by the Wallace family in 1468, the Hamilton family in the 1500's, then the Wallace's of Craigie in 1588. The castle was torn down in the 1700's. Situated along the River Ayr, this John Smith designed three story estate house was built about 1730. It was requisitioned for military use during World war II. A good portion of the surrounding estate land is parceled off to such educational entities as Ayr Academy, University of the West of Scotland, and Ayrshire College.
Dunure Castle (aka Kennedy Castle)
Castle Road, Dunure
Current Status: Ruins
Once the home of the Kennedy family of Dunure, later the Earls of Cassillis, and Marquess of Ailsa, the castle was built around 1340 with updates in the 15th and 16th centuries. The castle was destroyed by fire in 1650. A well preserved 'Dovecoat' lies to the north where pigeons were raised for eggs and meat. Pottery has been found dating to the 13th-17th centuries. Legend has it that the Earl in the 1550's kidnapped the laird of Crossnaguel Abbey and roasted him alive in the fireplace at Dunure Castle in attempts to get the laird to sign over his property to the Earl. The laird survived to tell the tale!
Off Greenan Road, Ayr
Current Status: Ruins
The cliff-side tower house of the 12th century lies just outside Ayr was originally built as a fort and later became the property of the Kennedy family like a lot of properties in this region.
Silver Avenue off the A719, Maybole
Current Status: Open to the public.
The crown jewel of Southwest Ayrshire was home to several generations of the Earls of Cassillis. The current configuration only dates to the 1700's as a home and not as a defensive position. Designed and personally built by the famed Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-1792) in a style that is of the romantic and classical era with a Georgian interior. It has a grand interior oval staircase as well as an armoury of one hundred eleven swords and forty pistols. A suite is dedicated the U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower (later to be U.S. President) for his lifetime to show gratitude of the Scots for his roll as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WW II. The 595 acre grounds is considered a country park managed by the National Trust for Scotland. Also on the grounds to the north is the original gas house used to supply heat and light to the castle. The managers house next door houses a museum and is dedicated to William Murdoch, the inventor of lighting by gas.
Carnell Estates House
Hurlford near Kilmarnock
Current Status: Operated as a Guest House
The 1840's sandstone structure currently has ten bedrooms and ten bathrooms and sits on two thousand acres of farms land. The home has been in the same family through marriage for many generations and is currently not open to the public but is available for corporate and private parties, weddings, and other venues. The ten acre walled garden is open to the public by appointment only.
Village of Kirkmichael near Maybole
Current Status: Privately owned with guest cottages.
A well preserved castle dating from the 16th century with updates in the succeeding centuries by various owners. The four story castle sits on 140 wooded acres of land and historical previous owners are listed as the Mure's, Kennedy's, and the Wallace's. It is now privately owned and occupied, however there are eight stand along cottages on the properties that are available for paying guests.
The National Trust for Scotland, Brochure, 1977
Darby, Mrs M.; Dunure Castle Brochure, 1977
Fry, Plantagenet Somerset; Castle of Britain and Ireland, 1977
Scott, Schomberg, Culzean Castle, 1975
Wilson, Stuart; Personal visits
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