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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1016557

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Brodick Castle is reputed to be the oldest habitable property belonging to the National Trust for Scotland, and the earliest portions date to the 14th century. For the greater part of its history it was owned by the Hamilton family who acquired the estate and title of Earls of Arran in 1503. The castle and estate, which includes Goat Fell, passed to the National Trust in 1958 and it is renowned for its collection of art treasures and magnificent gardens.

Little of the castle's medieval work can now be identified and, as it stands today, the castle belongs to three main periods. A 16th century tower-house forms the core of the building, to which Cromwell's troops added an extra wing and an artillery battery following their seizure of the island in 1652. The west wing, which forms the largest section of the castle, was not built until 1844; it was designed by James Gillespie Graham, one of the most important Scots architects of the day, in what has now become known as the Scots Baronial style, and it marked a significant move away from the classical or Gothic styles that had been fashionable up till that date. Gillespie Graham's outwardly austere addition blends sympathetically with the earlier parts of the castle and contrasts with the richness of the interior decoration and furnishings, some of which were brought from the collection of William Beckford following his daughter's marriage to the 10th Duke of Hamilton.

The gardens, which account for much of the attraction of Brodick, are laid out around the castle. To the north there is a walled garden of 18th century date entered through fine wrought-iron gates, and in front of the castle a semi-formal area was laid out in the 1920s, which provides a splendid setting for the house. These terraces and beds give way gradually to wodland gardens with fine specimen trees and an important collection of rhododendrons which are in flower from February/March through to June.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: The Clyde Estuary and Central Region’, (1985).

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