Lews Castle was built in the years 1847-1857 as a country house for Sir James Matheson who had bought the whole island a few years previously with his fortune from the Chinese Opium trade. It was designed by the Glasgow architect Charles Wilson.

In 1918, the Lewis estate including the castle was bought by industrialist Lord Leverhulme from the Matheson family. He gave the castle to the people of Stornoway parish in 1923.

During World War II the Castle was taken over as accommodation for air and ground crew of 700 Naval Air Squadron, who operated a detachment of six Supermarine Walrus aircraft from a slipway at Cuddy Point in the Grounds. The base was referred to as HMS Mentor.

After the war, the Castle was also used for accommodation for students of Lews Castle College in the 1950s.

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Founded: 1847-1857
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Hajime Takeda (14 months ago)
Very picturesque castle in the centre of Stornoway. Museum is pretty good for a free one and was great to see the impressive chess pieces.
fiona shannon (15 months ago)
Really interesting museum. No charge for entry, just donations if you want. Friendly staff. Lovely warm retreat on a soggy day.?
Rebecca Farmer (2 years ago)
We stayed at Lews castle in October 2022 in one of their beautifully refurbished rooms. The General Manager, Simon, has gone out of his way to make our stay memorable. The food is to die for, the rooms are spotless, comfortable and beautifully designed. Just moments walk from Stornowy town and set in beautiful grounds. Can't wait for our next visit.
Sallie Thompson (2 years ago)
Wonderful stay at Lews Castle! Simon was incredibly welcoming and knowledgeable about the property and area. The apartment was very clean and beautifully appointed. We truly had the keys to the castle. Would highly recommend!
Radu Ilie (2 years ago)
Quiet place, good for meditation and reflection about the past. The monument has huge concrete benches built-in, on 3 of the four sides. The view is stunning. It’s a bit windy, as it’s on top of a hill, but it’s perfect, as the midges don’t like that ?
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