Restored fortunes

Fife’s Dunimarle Castle has been brought back from the brink and given a new life as a family home

If you had stumbled across Dunimarle Castle a few years ago, you wouldn’t have given it long to live. A slow and steady slide into ruin had begun when its last real domestic inhabitant, Magdalene Sharpe Erskine, died in 1872. Brought into the hands of a private trust, the castle was run for a time as a museum but its maintenance declined as the years passed. It fell victim to vandalism and break-ins. To deter the burglars, the more valuable contents were loaned to Duff House in Aberdeenshire, but the castle itself and its adjoining chapel continued to deteriorate.
When the trust put it up for sale in 2009 it was in a sorry state, according to David Gibbon, director of Edinburgh-based architecture consultancy GLM. “Long disused and without its contents, holes cut in the plasterwork, floorboards lifted, skirtings and other joinery missing, it was in a thoroughly disheartening condition,” he recalls.
The GLM team, called in to provide a survey of the building, quickly realised that despite – “The building is in two parts,” says David. “There’s a Georgian house and there’s a substantial early-Victorian castle-style addition, which essentially doubles its size.” Unfortunately, a number of doorways had been bricked up, splitting it in two – and the building’s A-listed status meant that any changes to the fabric of the structure would be limited.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 258-272, issue 100.

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Photography Alastair Ferrier
Words Catherine Coyle