MacLellan’s Castle, Kirkcudbright

In 1569 Thomas MacLellan of Bombie was given the site of a ruined Greyfriars monastery in the town of Kirkcudbright. The monastery, which was built in around 1455, was demolished leaving only its chapel and on the site an L-plan castle was built. The chapel is now called Greyfriars Church. Construction of MacLellan’s Castle began around 1577, instigated by Thomas. The work is commonly assumed to date to 1582 based on the year being carved into a stone panel above the entrance. Despite never being finished in its entirety, it was home to MacLellan’s descendants until 1752 when it was sold to Sir Robert Maxwell. By this time the castle was in a state of ruin and the roof had collapsed. Thirty years later, Maxwell sold MacLellan Castle to Dunbar Douglas, 4th Earl of Selkirk.

In MacGibbon and Ross’ 1887 work, The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, the authors remarked “the whole building is a mass of ivy, giving it the appearance of a huge haystack, of a green rather than yellow colour”, however they were of the opinion that aside from the roof the building was in good condition. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland was created in 1908 to preserve Scotland’s historic buildings. Several buildings were already under state care, and as part of this growing concern to preserve standing buildings twenty buildings (eight of them castles) were taken into state care between 1911 and 1913. MacLellan’s Castle counted among these – it was handed over to the state in 1912 – and is now under the guardianship of Historic Scotland. [Wikipedia]

The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland 1887

In the town of Kirkcudbright, and probably in this castle, King Edward I. resided some days, when on his expedition to the siege of Carleverock, in the year 1300, as is shown in the wardrobe account of that year, lately published by the Society of Antiquaries of London. Kirkcudbright castle also afforded a temporary refuge to the unfortunate King Henry VI. after the battle of Towton, as may be seen in the Paston Letters. King James IV. of Scotland was at Kirkcudbright in March of 1508, as is proved by the publick papers, dated at that place. This view was drawn AD 1789. (The antiquities of Scotland, Volume 2, By Francis Grose,)

The castle referred to in the text would be the old castle at Castledykes.

Postcard of Ivy-clad castle. The drill hall can be seen on the left of the image.
The castle from Moat Brae. The gardens on the Moat Brae seem to have been recently completed and the tree is still small.
Looking over the Moat Brae you can see that the ivy has been removed and the tree is getting bigger.
A later view of the castle. The ivy is cleared, the war memorial is in-situ, and the tree on the Moat Brae has grown considerably.
A view of the castle from Castle Bank.
Viewed from the river, this early image shows the castle with Greyfriar’s church to the left and next left again is Greyfriar’s House (at that time only single storey).

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