Brodick Castle – A Beautiful Ode to the Past
Off the west coast of Scotland on the Isle of Arran stands a magnificent red sandstone castle, amidst the forests at the foot of Goatfell Mountain. This is Brodick Castle, the ancient seat of the Dukes of Hamilton. The name Brodick means 'broad bay' in Norse.
The castle began as a fortification in the 13th century and has additions made in 1544, 1588 and 1652 by the Hamiltons, who owned it from 1503. It was given to them by their cousin James IV along with the Earldom of Arran. Cromwell’s soldiers occupied the castle in 1648 during the Civil War and extended it further.
The present stately home with a high tower and magnificent Victorian rooms was however built in1844 by the 10th Duke of Hamilton and his wife, Princess Marie of Baden. The castle was subsequently inherited by Mary, Duchess of Montrose, and the daughter of the 12th Duke of Hamilton. She restored the gardens and after her death in 1957 it was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland. The castle and its garden are a living reminder of another age.
Today, the beautiful gardens and the country-park stretch from the shore to the highest peak on Arran. Its famous rhododendron collection is a riot of color in spring; and its walled garden dates to 1710. Several intriguing structures like the Bavarian Summer House with its exterior of tree roots and the interior decorated with fir cones, the Ice house with a turf roof are seen in the gardens. The country park rolls into wildflower meadows and its trails lead you through the woods to gushing waterfalls, gorges and ponds for local wildlife.
The remarkable castle is elegantly furnished and is open to the public. You walk past 87 stag heads in the entrance hall to the enormous drawing room. This leads to a wood-paneled dining room that seats twelve. The library and gallery are well adorned with priceless paintings and books. The huge kitchen with two fires and three ovens gleams with copper pots and pans. Though it has transformed from a castle into a stately home, Brodick Castle still has its share of colorful ghost stories.