The Castle of Mey (formerly Barrogill Castle) and surrounding lands belonged to the Bishops of Caithness. The castle of Mey was built between 1566 and 1572, possibly on the site of an earlier fortification, by George Sinclair, 4th Earl of Caithness. Originally a Z-plan tower house of three storeys, it had a projecting wing at the south-east, and a square tower at the north-west. The Castle passed to George Sinclair"s younger son William, founder of the Sinclairs of Mey, although it later became the seat of the Earls. The Castle"s name was changed to Barrogill, and it was extended several times, in the 17th and 18th centuries, and again in 1821 when Tudor Gothic style alterations were made, to designs by William Burn. Barrogill passed out of the Sinclair family in 1889, on the death of the 15th Earl, and in 1928 it was purchased by Captain Imbert-Terry. The Castle was used as an officers" rest home during the Second World War, and in 1950 the estate farms were sold off.

The castle was in a semi-derelict state when, in 1952, it and its policies (attached lands) were purchased by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the widow of King George VI who had died earlier in the year. The Queen Mother set about restoring the castle for use as a holiday home, removing some of the 19th-century additions, and reinstating the Castle"s original name. She regularly visited it in August and October from 1955 until her death in March 2002, the last visit being in October 2001.

In July 1996 The Queen Mother made the property, the policies and the farm over to the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, which has opened the castle and garden to the public regularly since her death. It is now open in summer season.



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Founded: 1566-1572
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Patricia Arteaga D (17 months ago)
Beautiful place, the garden has a diversity of colourful flowers and everything looks is cared by the personnel. The guides inside the Castle are very acknowledged and explained how the Mother Queen used to live in each stance during her summer holidays. The place looks well cared and all the stories the guides told us make me transported to another time. Every pound is worth it, highly recommended a stop there. Furthermore you can enjoy a variety of delicious meals in the Tearoom and buy a souvenir in the Gift Shop, so you have the full combo in your visit.
Paul Wilkinson (17 months ago)
The grounds and the caste have been well cared for and it's definitely worth a visit. The walled garden is beautiful, unfortunately though, you can't get inside the corner tower. There is a small petting area just along from the castle with chicks and lambs etc, the lady there was lovely and knowledgeable. The castle is interesting, there's lots of quaint items inside with stories to be had from the guides in each room. All of the guides were great, very polite, knowledgeable and good with my kids. We had a lovely day, the only think I'd say is, I felt we didn't have access to very much of the castle. You only get around one floor then it's down to the kitchen and out. I'd hoped to see the bedrooms and maybe get up to one of the towers for a nice wide angle picture of it all. I'd still recommend it though, it's worthwhile. Keep in mind though when picking your time to visit, the gardens and the cafe both close at 4pm, which I felt was a little early, especially for the cafe. We only just made it in time! On a footnote, the toilets were one of the cleanest I've been too, they were actually lovely. *Please note, disappointingly, no photography is allowed inside.
DAVID BOTHAM (17 months ago)
Well worth the visit. A very homely castle, the attendants very knowledgeable. The walled garden was very nice. Will look better later in the season. The cafe provided a reasonable range of food at affordable prices.
Samantha Francis (18 months ago)
What a lovely experience. The tour felt so personal which was down to the personnel who took us through each room. You really got an insight as to how the Queen mother lived in this beautiful home. Gardens gorgeous too. Worth every penny.
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