Places to Visit
- Kelburn Castle and Country Park
The de Boyvilles were Knights who came to Britain from Caen in Normandy with William the Conqueror> in 1066. Known later as the Boyles, a branch of the family settled at Kelburn, on a commanding position overlooking the Firth of Clyde, in 1140. Parts of Kelburn Castle date back to the 13th century and a Norman keep has been incorporated into the castle. It is claimed that it is the oldest castle in Scotland continuously inhabited by the same family. The tower house is dated 1581 and extensions were made in 1700 and 1879. The round tower houses the main stairway within the castle.
During the 17th century the Boyle's grew rich through shipping and shipbuilding. The Boyles were elevated to Earls of Glasgow in 1703, one of the last to be created under the Scottish peerage. The Earl was a strong supporter of the passing of the Act of Union> in 1707 and is thought to have bribed poor Jacobite supporters to support the Bill.
In 1869, the 6th Earl of Glasgow inherited Kelburn and land in Dalry, Stewarton, Corshill and Fenwick and the estate at Hawkeshead outside Paisley, plus estates in Dunbartonshire, Fife, Northumberland and the greater part of Cumbrae. However, he ran into debt building Episcopal churches all over Scotland, including a Cathedral in Perth and one in Cumbrae. By 1888 he was one million pounds in debt. His cousin, David Boyle of Stewarton, later Seventh Earl of Glasgow, sold his own lands to buy back the Kelburn Estate at auction. All the rest was lost to the family.
Within the wooded area of the grounds is a monument (on the right) to one of the Earls of Glasgow, erected in 1775, by his disconsolate widow "to animate his children to his estimable qualities".
By the late 20th century, estate duties and increasing maintenance costs forced the family to turn part of the extensive grounds into a country park and adventure playground for day trippers. The Earl of Glasgow has tackled this with enthusiasm and has created a pet's corner, a wooden stockade, a woodland adventure trail, a marine assault course as well as a network of woodland nature trails and a beautiful walled garden (the illustration below is from a long hedge made up entirely of camelias). There are often special events arranged to further amuse young visitors (while they also learn something about the local wildlife and fauna). There is a restaurant in the old home farm and you can sit out under the umbrellas in the courtyard. There are also conducted tours of Kelburn Castle itself.
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