L-plan tower
18th century
aka Coif, Cullean

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KA19 8LE
NS 233 102
12m s of Ayr
4m w of Maybole


avail. for rental
country par
walled garden


Culzean Site
National Trust
Undiscovered Scotland
DK Travel


Culzean Castle

Like Alnwick, the name of this castle had us boggling at the pronunciation rules of English -- it's 'cull-ane'. I have no idea where the 'z' came from.

view of the castle from the "country park"

18th century manor house plus

Culzean is a magnificent house, only technically could it be called a castle. The mansion was built between 1777 and 1792, and buried deep in there somewhere is a 16th century tower built by Sir Thomas Kennedy, which replaced an even earlier castle on the site, which was called Coif Castle. The "picture room" i the castle is the old tower hall, although all the interior features have been replaced. This "House of the Cove" was desribed as a great mansion house in 1632. Gardens and terraces were added in the 17th century.

The castle has been almost completely rebuilt as a luxurious mansion house for the 9th and 10th Earls of Cassillis - the restoration was dsigned by Robert Adam, and has the stamp of his design on the interior is very clear - pale colors, ornate plasterwork, symmetrical rooms, including a huge oval staircase and circular rooms inside a huge drum tower facing the sea.

A set of rooms facing the cliffside were given to President Eisenhower, and currently contains not only a suite of rooms that are available for rent, but also a small display of memorabilia of the president's stay here and his role in WWII.

the drum tower incorporated into the new mansion

The grounds have a dozen other interesting buildings and gardens to visit. A large gatehouse, an icehouse, an old laundry, greenhouses, a gas house (providing gas for the castle until 1940) and even caves down along the beach. The gardens are very popular on nice spring days - there were hundreds of people lounging about on the graass and wandering in the gardens while we were there.

the towered facade from the upper terrace


The Kennedy family has owned the land here since the 12th century, and probably had a fortification of some sort here for most of that time. The estates were given to Dir Thomas Kennedy in 1569, by his brother, the 4th Earl fo Cassilis (a title the family still holds). His brother preferred Dunure Castle.

Sir Thomas Kennedy inherited the house in 1742, after a protracted legal battle he also gained the title Earl of Cassalis, which broght the castle and earldom into the same family. He began to modernize the castle in 1750, but it was his son who is responsible for the castle as it stands today.

The castle was given to the care of the National Trust in 1945, and the family has moved back to Cassillis Castle.


The castle has been on banknotes issues from the Bank of Scotland since 1987.

Also, make sure to look for the little lego men in each of the public rooms - the curator of the collection moves them every so often!

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