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12 Apr 2022

Amazing spaces – Ayrshire and Arran

Brodick Castle, Isle of Arran
Our expert teams discuss some of the most stunning and fascinating rooms in our castles and historic buildings in Ayrshire and Arran

Round Drawing Room – Culzean Castle

Maybole, Ayrshire

This is a room designed for visitors to walk into and say: ‘Wow.’ The round drawing room is the showpiece of Culzean Castle and it really is the pinnacle of its splendour.

‘It’s about seeing and also being seen. It makes a statement both from the land and the sea about the Kennedys and their wealth and status,’ says Trust curator Sarah Beattie.

The round drawing room is part of the second phase of Robert Adam’s work on the property, which he remodelled in 1776, commissioned by the 10th Earl of Cassillis, Sir David Kennedy. Though it looks now like the castle was a cohesive project, the drawing room wasn’t designed and built until the 1780s.

‘The interior probably wasn’t finished during Adam’s and Sir David Kennedy’s lifetime,’ adds Sara Beattie. ‘They both died in 1792 and research suggests the room possibly wasn’t completed until a couple of decades later.

‘When the Trust took over the ceiling wasn’t painted in the Adam colours; it was pure white. That’s more of an early 19th-century taste.’

Plan a visit to Culzean Castle

The Round Drawing Room at Culzean, with soft furnishings such as the large circular rug and curtains in a red and cream colour scheme. There are several windows overlooking the sea view and a chandelier hangs from the ceiling.
The Round Drawing Room, Culzean Castle

Kitchen – Burns Cottage

Alloway, Ayrshire

With a roaring fire burning in the hearth and cooking pots bubbling away, it’s thought the kitchen at Burns Cottage is where a young Robert Burns got his first taste for the folklore tales that went on to inspire his writing.

‘It’s in this room where Burns was born, where he would have had religious instruction from his father and heard his mother singing. He also heard stories from a lady called Elizabeth Davidson, who he thought of as a beloved aunt,’ explains Chris Waddell, learning manager at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

‘She was an older lady, the widow of his mother’s cousin, and helped look after the children. She was a real repository of folk tales and spooky stories, and she enthralled the children. Burns years later revisited some of these ideas when he gave us Tam O’ Shanter, which is set in Alloway.’

The box bed, dresser and chairs by the fire are all where they would have been positioned when Burns was growing up in the humble cottage in the late 18th century.

Plan a visit to Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

The kitchen at Burns Cottage, with a stone-flagged floor, large stone fireplace and hearth, wooden chairs, and a spinning wheel.
The Kitchen, Burns Cottage

Dining Room – Brodick Castle

Isle of Arran

To see how tastes and fashions have changed over the centuries, look no further than the dining room at Brodick Castle. Layers of history are tied together in this intriguing space, which was the main hall of the 16th-century building.

The elaborate plaster ceiling was added in the 1840s during the James Gillespie Graham addition to the castle (led by William, the future 11th Duke of Hamilton, and his wife, Princess Marie of Baden), and the collection of sporting trophies dates to the later 19th century and the life of the 12th Duke.

What’s really interesting, according to Trust curator Sarah Beattie, is the wood panelling: ‘Although it looks as if it could have been there for hundreds of years, it was actually brought to Brodick in 1921 from an older building on the Hamiltons’ Easton Park estate in Suffolk. Cabinet-makers Titchmarsh & Goodwin were commissioned to repurpose the panels, recreate additional pieces to finish the mouldings and fit the panels. It was hundreds of hours of work and combined craftsmanship from across centuries.’

Plan a visit to Brodick Castle

The stately dining room at Brodick Castle, with a dark-wood table and chairs to sit ten people at the centre, a stone fireplace, and walls lined with gold-framed paintings.
The Dining Room, Brodick Castle

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