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Kellie Castle

Situated 3 miles (5 km) north of Pittenweem in the East Neuk of Fife, Kellie Castle is a Jacobean tower house, largely dating from the 16th and early 17th centuries.

Mentioned in a charter of David I c.1150, Kellie was owned by the Oliphant family from 1360 to 1613 when it was purchased by Sir Thomas Erskine (1566 - 1639), a childhood friend of James VI who created him Earl of Kellie (1619). Originally a simple tower house, the lower part of the what is now the northwest tower is the oldest part of the castle, probably dating from 1360. A second larger tower was built to the southwest by 1573 and in 1606 a new range was completed connecting these two towers. Subsequently the castle has developed into a T-plan structure, comprising a complex collection of shear gables, corbelled towers, turnpike stairs and chimneys, which represents a fine example of Scottish domestic architecture. The Earls of Kellie died out in 1829 and the castle was abandoned for many years. The castle was restored by James Lorimer (1818-90), Professor of Law at the University of Edinburgh, who had rented it from the Earl of Mar and Kellie in the 1870s, initially as a summer residence but it soon became his family home. James' son, the architect Sir Robert Lorimer (1864 - 1929), was responsible for laying out the gardens when he was aged just 16. Later Robert continued his father's restoration work, restoring the magnificent plaster ceilings (which date from 1676), painted panelling and designing furniture for the castle. The original Arbroath stone roof tiles have had to be replaced and the new roof has been constructed using Ballachulish slates.

Sir Robert's son, the sculptor Hew Lorimer (1907-93), finally purchased the castle in 1948 and it was he who gave the castle, together with its Victorian organic walled-garden, to the National Trust for Scotland in 1970.

A permanent exhibition of Hew Lorimer's work has been created at the Castle.


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