Taymouth Castle Details
- Access: Public Access
- Condition: occupied
- First build century: 19th
- Closest To: Aberfeldy, Kenmore
- Grid Ref: NN784465
- Last use century: 21st
Taymouth Castle lies in a large private estate just outside the village of Kenmore in upland Perthshire. It is built on a low rise in a loop of the River Tay, and is an extensive 19th century castellated mansion. Completely buried within the mansion are the remains of a 16th century tower house of the Campbells called Balloch Castle.
The early history of the area is extremely vague. A mile or so downstream, where the Lyon flows into the Tay, the land was anciently church land, and Glenlyon was granted to Ewan MacDougall of Lorn by David II in 1368, who repopulated the area which had been devastated by plague. Since Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy – the first known Campbell occupant of the site – was a younger son of the Campbells who inherited Lorn from the Stewarts, it can be guessed that the lands around Taymouth Castle may have passed to the Campbells this way. However it is also the case that on the island in Loch Tay by Kenmore – about a mile upstream from Taymouth – housed a nunnery or priory which was in use in 1509, so it is also possible that the land was church land, and passed to the Campbells at the Reformation.
The castle of Balloch was a long tower house, built in about 1580 by Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. The long hall block had four vaulted basement rooms with a corridor running in front of them all. At the south-western end of the hall block was a square tower, containing the entrance door. A round turret extended to the rear of the hall block containing a staircase, and a second staircase rose at the junction of the hall block and tower. The first floor contained the great hall as well as two withdrawing rooms. In 1733 William Adam was employed to design an extension, consisting of two classical wings connected to the tower by curved walls, and the tower was made to look symmetrical. A painting by James Norie shows how the castle looked after the completion of this work.
In 1799 the old castle was mostly demolished and a new mansion block was built in its place reminiscent of the Campbell castle-mansion of Inveraray, with one of the Adam wings retained. Further alterations were completed by 1842, by which point the castle had become a truly enormous building. In 1922 the castle was sold and was converted into a hotel. Since then it has served as a hospital, a base for the Civil Defence Corps, and a school. The castle is currently being converted into a luxury hotel, and the grounds, used as a golf course since 1925, continues to be run as a separate venture. It is possible to walk around the grounds, although the castle itself is off limits.