The House of Nobility (Riddarhuset, “the House of Knights”) was built in 1641-1672 as a chamber of Estates of the Realm, and as such, a Swedish equivalent to the British House of Lords. After 1866, when the Riksdag of the Estates was replaced by the new parliament, the Swedish House of Nobility served as a quasi-official representation of the Swedish nobility, regulated by the Swedish government. Since 2003, it has been a private institution, which maintains records and acts as an interest group on behalf of the Swedish nobility, with the main purpose to maintain old traditions and culture.
The building design was started by the French-born architect Simon De la Vallée, but was killed by a Swedish nobleman in 1642. The plans were eventually finished by his son, Jean De la Vallée, in 1660. In the 18th century, the building was often used for public concerts. From 1731, public concerts were performed here by Kungliga Hovkapellet. The south end of the building carries the Latin inscription CLARIS MAIORUM EXEMPLIS, after the clear example of the forefathers, and holds a statue of Gustav II Adolph. North of the building is a park in which is a statue of Axel Oxenstierna. The architecture of the old main library in Turku, Finland was influenced by the Swedish House of Nobility.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.