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0158 Inveraray Castle
Image by Bravehardt
Inveraray Castle,the home of Torquhil Campbell,13 Duke of Argyll,his wife and three young children,is a four-square fortress on the shore of Loch Fyne,Scotland’s longerst sea loch.It rises gray-green above its park,a mostly mid 18th-century neo-Gothic vision complete with conical towers and a glass-and-iron entrance porch designed in 1871 by Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt,architectural adviser to Brunel at Paddington station.It is a house of bold appearance,which inspires strong reactions.Visiting in 1927,Christopher Hussey,architectural writer for Country Life,was appalled by its dark-toned austerity.He illustrated his article about Inveraray with only a single photograph of the building’s exterior.
But Inveraray Castle has a secret.It rugged facade,desinged in 1746 by Roger Morris,conceals a series of superbly refined noeclassical shemes that was created some 40 years later by Rober Mylne for the 5th Duke of Argyll .
In their gilded frou-frou,these elegant rooms – on show to the public throughout the summer months- make no concessions to Roger Morris’s forbidding architecture or to the tough Highland landscape beyond. Robert Mylne even remodelled the internal shape of Roger Morris’s windows,their circular heads at variance with the pointed Gothick forms visible on the castle’s facade.
For all their charm and dazzle,the Tapestry Drawing Room,State Dining Room,and Saloon- the last complete with grand piano on which Lerner and Loewe composed songs for My Fair Lady – are ill-suited to 21st-century family life.Instead the Duke and his family – his wife,Eleanor,and children,Archie seven,Rory,five and Charlotte,three – inhabit a ‘house within a house’covering two floors of the south and western sides of the castle and bookended by two crenellated circular towers.There,after a two-year renovation project that involved the installation of 12 bathrooms and the creation of a family kitchen designed with an emphasis on childproofing,the latest generation of this ancient Scottish family lives ‘above the shop’.
As in all cases of successful heritage management,the Argylls’ approach old and new: their new central heating system,the first castle has ever had,is power by woodchips from their estate’s extensive forestry.’Most of all,our lives have been transformed by having radiators,’ Eleanor says,in reference to the 120 that they have installed. ‘We no longer need to run from one room with a fire to another.’
Among challenges faced by the Duchess was the replanning of the family room for a life that,in contrast to that of the Duke’s parents,involves no domestic staff.The children’s bedrooms are now within easy reach of their parents’- unlike the Duke’s childhood bedroom,which has been incorporated into the public side of the castle and used as a display for uniforms and ceremonial dress.(The Duke of Argyll is also is the Master of the Royal Household in Scotland as well as being Admiral of the Western Isles and MacCailein Mor,the head of Clan Campbell).
The Duchess admits to not having bought a great deal for the castle during her 10 years threre: much of the recent renovation was about recycling,which inevitably embraced significant works of art and furniture.Two tapestry-hung beds,for example,were left untouched,while a portrait of the Duchess painted by Howard Morgan during her time at university in Durham hangs in the family drawing-room next to a painting of an 18th-century Duchess of Hamilton by Francis Cotes.
The recycling also extended to less rerefied furnishings.The Duchess was helped in her redecoration by the Morayshire-base interior designer Louisa Gordon-Cumming.’She was amazing at resuing things,’Eleanor says."From tired sofas to a stunning mahogany wardrobe that was previously hidden under layers of turquoise paint.’ Louisa Gordon-Cumming also remade and refurbished some of the castle’s existing textiles,including generation-old curtains. "We kept as much as we could,’ Eleanor says. ‘I’m the third Duchess to use the curtains in the East Turret Room.’
Then there is the matter of carpet and armour.Both are challenge specific to Inveraray. As any visitor will notice,the castle has more than it fair share of arms and armour.Walls in the Armoury Hall are densely lined with 16th-century and 17th-century pole-arms and 18th-century broadswords.Historic muskets form great swirling roundels.There are circular shields and breastplates.But the fun doesn’t stop there.The overspill of this collection decorates the hall of the private apartments,where it is combined with 18th-century tapestries and carpet in the bold green,black,and blue of Ancient Campbell tartan.In other rooms of the house,Eleanor opted for determinedly neutral floor coverings.
With its 16-acre garden and estate of 60,000 acres,Inveraray allows the Argylls to spend as much time as possible outside,bicycling and fishing.Indoor they use the Green Library – so-called on account of the colour of the painted bookcases – for watching television.The Brown Library,whose internal wrought-iron balcony features the Galley of Lorne,an emblem from the family coat of arms,is the Duke’s study.This room was once the bedroom of Queen Victoria of England’s difficult fourth daughter,Princess Louise,who in 1870 married the future 9th Duke.It is according to Eleanor,’riddled with ghosts’. Time will tell if those venerable cohabitants can adapt themselves to the warmth and comfort of the Argylls’ sensitive but practical renovation
Image by Jodimichelle