Bill Rogers – History of Culzean Castle – 10 October 2017

Bill Rogers gave a hugely entertaining and amusing talk along with a virtual tour of Culzean Castle, now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Culzean had been built by the Kennedy family in the late 1500’s, and was already nearly 200 years old when Sir Thomas Kennedy succeeded to the title Earl of Cassilis in 1762. He set about repairs and renovations to make it more comfortable but it was his brother David, who, on Thomas’s death, became 10th Earl of Cassilis and decided to be more daring and adventurous. He commissioned the foremost architect of the time, Robert Adam, to transform Culzean from a dowdy fortress to a grand, romantic and fashionable castle which is filled to the turrets with treasures that tell the stories of the people who lived there.

Bill took us on his whistle-stop, virtual tour through many of the wonderful rooms from the armoury to the state bedrooms via the magnificent and unique Adam oval staircase. On the way, Bill liberally sprinkled his tour with amusing and little known anecdotes including:

  • Culzean was originally “Coif” Castle after the nearby smugglers’ caves.
  • The Kennedys were ardent supporters of the Stuart monarchy.
  • Due to the window (glass) tax it was cheaper at the time to employ “rinser” servants at table to clean the guests’ glasses between drinks.
  • Archibald Kennedy (11th Earl of Cassilis) once owned Liberty Island in New York Bay.
  • Horses played an important part in the lives of the earls who were responsible for inaugurating the Ayr Gold Cup.

Afterwards, Paul Williams thanked Bill for his informed, witty and interesting presentation