Today I went on a tour of Culzean Castle, which is about an hour and a half south of Glasgow on the coast. The morning started off rainy and gray. According to the BBC weather forecast, there was supposed to be heavy rain all day, but fortunately the sun came out in the afternoon. Before we got to the castle, we stopped in the seaside town of Ayr for lunch. We walked on the beach and then went into town where we found a restaurant inside a converted church. I ordered the fish and chips, as did many others, but one guy at our table ordered the haggis. He offered everyone the chance to taste it, so of course I did. I must say, it was surprisingly good.
After Ayr, we got back on the bus and headed up to the castle. It was built sometime in the 1500s by the Kennedy family (no relation to the American Kennedys, who were descended from the Irish). Anyway, these Scottish Kennedys were Earls (later promoted to the rank of Marquis) and as such were very wealthy. The castle was very big, perhaps twice the size of Joslyn Castle in Omaha. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the castle, but it was pretty nice inside. There were a lot of paintings and old furniture and other things you might imagine a castle would have. One thing I was particularly impressed with was the armory. One of the Earl Kennedys took it upon himself to purchase a number of old guns and swords in London. At the time, they were worth next to nothing. In fact, they were about to be smelted. He bought them mostly for decoration and to impress visitors. The walls of the room are simply covered in weaponry. The patterns are actually kind of beautiful… Anyway, when it’s all added up, the contents of the room are worth over half a million pounds (close to $800,000).
Other interesting facts about Culzean:
- It was designed by Robert Adam who was obsessed with symmetry, some of the rooms have doors that don’t actually lead anywhere.
- President Eisenhower stayed there, and when the castle was given to the Royal Trust of Scotland, the top level was preserved for Eisenhower in honor of his work commanding Scottish troops during the war.
- Mary Queen of Scots stayed at the castle.
- A couple of years ago, a young girl was touring the castle. Upon entering the bedroom, she began talking. Her mother asked her who she was speaking to and she replied, “The man on the chair.” There was no man on the chair. One of the tour guides asked her who the man was and she told them that he said he was the man in the paining downstairs, Thomas Kennedy. At the time, they thought the painting was another Kennedy. They did some research and discovered that the girl was actually correct, the painting was Thomas. She was able to describe what he was wearing in correct detail. She was only four years old. Creepy, huh?
Well, that’s all I have for today. Until next time…
P.S.- Culzean is not actually pronounced how it looks. It is said kull-een, the z is silent.