Inchmahome Priory is situated on Inchmahome, the largest of three islands in the centre of Lake of Menteith.
The priory was founded in 1238 by the Earl of Menteith, Walter Comyn, for a small community of the Augustinian order (the Black Canons). The Comyn family were one of the most powerful in Scotland at the time, and had an imposing country house on Inch Talla, one of the other islands on the Lake of Menteith. There is some evidence that there was a church on the island before the priory was established.
The priory has a long history of receiving many notable guests. King Robert the Bruce visited three times: in 1306, 1308 and 1310. His visits were likely politically motivated, as the first prior had sworn allegiance to Edward I, the English king. In 1358 the future King Robert II also stayed at the priory. In 1547 the priory served as a refuge for Queen Mary, aged four, hidden here for a few weeks following the disastrous defeat of the Scots army at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh during the Rough Wooing.
The decline of the monastic orders in the 16th century was hastened by the fact that the heads of abbeys and priories became appointees of the local landowner, who often did not share the religious goals of the monks or ordained priests. In 1547, the office passed to John, Lord Erskine, who later became head of Cambuskenneth and Dryburgh abbeys. The Scottish Reformation meant that there were no new priests being ordained, and religious land and buildings gradually passed into secular hands, leading to the priory's inevitable decline. In 1606 the land and property passed to the Erskine family, and later to the Marquess of Montrose; the 6th Duke of Montrose passed it into the care of the State in 1926.
The author, socialist and nationalist politician Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham and his wife Gabriela Cunninghame Graham are buried in the ruined chancel of the priory, where there is also a stone commemorating his nephew, and heir, Admiral A.E.M.B. Cunninghame Graham.
Although most of the buildings are now ruins, much of the original 13th-century structure remains, and it is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, who maintain and preserve it as a scheduled ancient monument.
The priory can be visited by boat, operated by Historic Scotland from the nearby pier at Port of Menteith, from March to September.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.