Knock Old Castle

A remarkable restoration of a ruined B-listed castle in North Ayrshire, Knock Old Castle lies adjacent to Knock Castle, 1½ miles (2.5 km) north northwest of Largs. Built in the 14th C., the castle was recorded by Timothy Pont in the early 17th C. and appears on a map in Blaeu's Atlas Novus of 1654, by which time it had grown to become a Z-plan tower of four storeys and a garret, with a walled courtyard. It was a property of the Frasers of Lovat, but having been supporters of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose (1612-50), they were forced to sell to the Montgomeries of Skelmorlie in 1645. In 1853, the old castle was partially restored as a garden folly by J. T. Rochead (1814-78) in the grounds of the new house. It was listed in 1971.

A five-year restoration by the owner of the Knock Castle Estate, Bruce Walker, a businessman who made his money in Hong Kong, began in 2011. Designed by Ayr-based architects ARP Lorimer, the result is a whimsical fairy-tale castle, shaped by the skills and imagination of local craftsmen, which sees a modern new wing built alongside the original structure. Replacement stone was sourced from St. Bees Quarry in Cumbria, which was determined to be the best match to the original masonry. Beams, ceilings, window frames, doors, stairs and furniture are formed of rough-cut woodwork using oak and elm sourced from fallen trees on the estate. With other notable features including a colourful hand-painted ceiling in the keep, a sauna in the tower, a glass-domed lookout and sheep grazing on the wildflower roof, the castle now forms a unique luxury holiday let.

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