Friday, June 14, 2024

From Spite to Hope

Scottish castle for sale for just £28.90 per square foot


They say that owning a grouse moor is equivalent to burning £50 notes but the buyer of the 41,433 square foot Carbisdale Castle in Sutherland will take on an altogether bigger burden.


Carbisdale Castle is a vast Scottish Baronial building in need of a saviour with deep pockets
Carbisdale Castle is a vast Scottish Baronial building in need of a saviour with deep pockets


Carbisdale, the last castle to be built in Scotland, was constructed between 1906 and 1917 for Mary Caroline, the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, as part of her settlement with the Sutherland family after an acrimonious court case with her husband’s heir. As part of the deal – which occurred despite the Dowager Duchess (better known as “Duchess Blair”) being jailed for 6 weeks after being found guilty of stealing documents – it was agreed that a castle would be built for her just outside the Sutherland lands. She intentionally chose – supposedly to spite them – a prominent hillside site visible from the very railway line the Sutherlands used to travel south and insisted that the clock tower of the house only had three clock faces. On the side facing Sutherland, the face is blank as “the Duchess did not wish to give the time of day to her former relatives”.


The castle was designed for entertaining on a grand scale
The castle was designed for entertaining on a grand scale
It includes a number of vast reception spaces
It includes a number of vast reception spaces

Duchess Blair died before the building was complete and the house was sold to a Norwegian shipping and whaling tycoon named Colonel Theodore Salvesen.


Loaned to King Haakon VII and Crown Prince Olav of Norway during the Second World War, Carbisdale Castle was the scene of a conference that ensured their country would be free after the war. In 1944, the castle was gifted by Salvesen’s son to the Scottish Youth Hostel Association.


An image of the castle from the 1950s shows a distinct lack of vegetation
An image of the castle from the 1950s shows a distinct lack of vegetation
Today, though, the castle is surrounded by trees
Today, though, the castle is surrounded by trees

Between 1945 and 2011, Carbisdale Castle operated as a youth hostel but had to close after extensive water damage during 2010. Though £2 million has been spent on repairs in the time since, the castle still requires significant further works. At a time when properties in London are selling for up to £7,000 per square foot, just £1.2 million is sought for Carbisdale Castle by agents Savills.


Given that it comes with only 16 acres of land – sadly split into various parcels –  this 40 bedroomed B-listed residence’s best hope is that it will end up as a hotel. The future for “The Castle of Spite” will indeed be bleak unless a saviour can fast be found.



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