Torosay Castle

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Torosay Castle
Torosay Castle 01.jpg
Torosay Castle is located in Scotland
Torosay Castle
Torosay Castle
Site information
OwnerCampbell family
Site history
Built byArchitect David Bryce

Torosay Castle is a large house situated 1+12 miles (2.5 kilometres) south of Craignure on the Isle of Mull, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides.

Castle History[edit]

The buildings and gardens were listed by Historic Scotland in 1987. The agency indicates that the property was originally known as Duart House.[1] One source explains that it was renamed Torosay to avoid confusing it with Duart Castle which is also located on the island, on the Sound of Mull.[2]

John Campbell of Possil, son of Colonel Alexander Campbell of Possil, commissioned David Bryce to build Torosay Castle for the Campbell of Possil family.

It was designed by architect David Bryce for John Campbell of Possil (see Carter-Campbell of Possil) in the Scottish Baronial style. A history by Undiscovered Scotland provides these specifics:[3]

"In the 1850s Colonel Campbell's son John inherited the estate, demolished the Georgian house, and commissioned Edinburgh architect David Bryce to produce something on a much grander scale. What was called at the time Duart House was completed in 1858".

In 1865, the property was sold to Arbuthnot Charles Guthrie and was owned by members of that family until 1911, when it was sold as a ruin to Sir Fitzroy Maclean who arranged to restore the castle.[3] Following the sale of Guthrie Castle out of the Guthrie family, Torosay was generally acknowledged as the seat for Clan Guthrie.

Torosay is surrounded by 12 acres (5 hectares) of spectacular gardens including formal terraces laid out at the turn of the 20th century and attributed to Sir Robert Lorimer.[4] The castle and gardens used to be open to the public, being linked to the Craignure ferry terminal by the Isle of Mull Railway.

The garden's Statue Walk is made up of 19 statues in the style of Italian sculptor Antonio Bonazza. The statues were acquired by then-owner Walter Murray Guthrie from a derelict garden near Milan and shipped to Scotland for next to nothing as ballast in a cargo ship.[1]

The Campbell of Possil coat of arms on the south elevation of Torosay Castle incorporates three bugles (horns), taken from the armorial bearings of John Campbell's third wife, Elizabeth Williamson, daughter of Donald Horne, but not matriculated by the Lord Lyon of Scotland

The novelist Angela du Maurier, older sister of Dame Daphne du Maurier, is said to have spent some time residing at Torosay with her close companion Olive Guthrie (great grandmother of the present owner).[5] Angela dedicated her book Weep No More (1940) to "Olive Guthrie of Torosay." Other visitors during the 1930s included Winston Churchill (Olive Guthrie was his aunt by marriage) and King George of Greece.

21st century[edit]

The castle was sold in 2012 by Christopher Guthrie-James, the fifth laird of Torosay Castle. The new owner, the McLean Fund, closed it for renovations; it was occupied again in December 2013 by a private family. Guthrie-James said "it was with a sense of relief, rather than regret, that we sold the family home at Torosay." Kenneth Donald McLean sixth Laird has spent more than £1 million renovating the castle and gardens. The castle is permanently closed to the public. The gardens are open on the first Sunday in the month - April to October.[6][7]

A report published in March 2017 referred to the new owner as "Madame von Speyr, whose charity, the Dew Cross Centre for Moral Technology, is said to be based here".[8] The charity, however, listed its base as Edinburgh in 2019.[9]

Champagne find[edit]

In July 2008 the then oldest bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne was discovered inside a sideboard in Torosay Castle. The 1893 bottle was in mint condition. It is believed to have been locked inside the dark sideboard since at least 1897. The champagne is now on display at the Veuve Clicquot visitor centre in Reims, France, and regarded as "priceless".[10]


  1. ^ a b Historic Environment Scotland. "TOROSAY CASTLE (DUART HOUSE) (GDL00376)".
  4. ^ "Torosay Castle". The Isle of Mull. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  5. ^ Jane Dunn, Daphne du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing, Harper Press, 2013.
  6. ^ Torosay Castle also known as Duart House
  7. ^ Kerr, Moira (2 October 2012). "Torosay Castle sold after 147 years with one family". The Times.
  8. ^ Torosay Castle: The Hebridean shooting lodge that stayed in one family for 150 years
  9. ^ The Dewcross Centre For Moral Technology
  10. ^ "Priceless champagne discovered". BBC News. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 26 July 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°27′18″N 5°41′14″W / 56.45500°N 5.68722°W / 56.45500; -5.68722