The lands of Methven were owned by the Mowbray family from the 12th century. The Mowbrays supported the claim of John Balliol against Robert the Bruce, and on the latter's victory, Methven was confiscated by the crown, and given to Walter Stewart, the Bruce's son-in-law. His descendant, Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, was deprived of the lands following his involvement in a plot to kill King James I. The castle sustained a siege in 1444, and was visited by King James II in 1450. King James IV visited several times in the 1490s.

Methven Castle was the home of Margaret Tudor (1489-1541), queen of James IV, King of Scots, and daughter of Henry VII of England, after her third marriage to Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven in 1528. Margaret Tudor died here on 18 October 1541. After the third Lord Methven died without heir in 1584, King James VI gave Methven to his favourite, the Duke of Lennox. In 1664 the estate was purchased by Patrick Smythe of Braco.

The present building is dated 1664, and was designed and built by the mason-architect John Mylne. It may incorporate older work. The Smythe family remained in possession throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, making additions to the castle and the grounds. In 1923 the castle was sold, and changed hands several times until 1984, when restoration work began. The east wing was demolished, following the west wing which was pulled down in the 1950s, leaving only the 17th-century house, which was given a new roof. The castle is currently owned by David Murdoch, and is a category A listed building.

Architecture

It comprises a square, four-storey main block, with narrow circular towers at each corner. These have ogee-shaped roofs, and the whole building is harled. The north front has a pair of crow-stepped gables, linked by a balustrade. An east wing was added first, then a western extension with a bay window, built around 1815, probably by James Gillespie Graham. Graham produced designs for rebuilding the whole structure, but this was never carried out. The building also had a clock tower, but this was demolished around 1965. Inside, the building was remodelled in 1800, and only a stair remains of the original interiors.

Grounds

Parkland was laid out around the castle from the late 18th century. David Smythe, Lord Methven planted many of the woodlands, and a walled garden was constructed in 1796. In 1830 a pinetum, an arboretum consisting of conifers, was established, and is considered the first in Scotland. David's son William continued to expand the estate and constructed glasshouses. Although the woodlands continued to be managed into the 20th century, the gardens were neglected and numerous trees felled, including much of the pinetum, in the 1950s. The largest surviving tree is the Pepperwell Oak. In 1883 this tree was thought to be already 400 years old. The parks and gardens are listed in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, the national listing of significant gardens.

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Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.