Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll located on the edge of Loch Fyne on the Western Coast of Scotland overlooking the sea loch and the picturesque town of Inveraray. Since the 18thCentury, the Dukes of Argyll, also Chieftains of Clan Campbell have resided at the castle.
Since the 1400s an Inveraray Castle has stood along the shores of Loch Fyne. The fairytale castle that we see today however dates to the 1740s. The foundation stone was laid in 1746 and by 1789 the castle was completed. Inveraray Castle was designed by architects Roger Morris and William Adam in Gothic Revival style that incorporates Baroque, Palladian and Gothic styles.
Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll who welcome visitors to their majestic estate. Visitors sweep past the Entrance Hall into the grandiose interiors. On this level, they visit the opulent and hand-painted State Dining Room, the Drawing Room with its original Beauvais tapestries and French décor, and the magnificent Armoury Hall with its impressive display of arms that bring to life the history of the Campbell Clan. The Castle tour continues with a visit to The Portrait Gallery on the First Floor. From here visitors head to the Clan Room for a more comprehensive look at Clan Campbell’s history.
As with most old buildings, Inveraray posses a few ghosts, the most famous of these is that of a young harpist murdered in his bed, now located in the MacArthur Room. According to legend, when a member of the family is a near death it is said that harp music can be heard coming from this room. The Victorian Room with its exquisite Maplewood desk, a wedding present from Queen Victoria for her daughter, is also on this floor.
The Armoury Hall is one of the most dramatic rooms in the castle. The ceiling, with a height of 21 meters, is the highest ceiling in all Scotland. The central ceiling features displays of the Campbell family crest and those of various cadet branches of the family. The Armoury Hall showcases an impressive collection of arms including: 16thand 17thcentury pole-arms, Brown Bess muskets, Lochaber axes, 18thcentury Scottish Broadswords, Rob Roy MacGregor’s dirk and sporran and many other fascinating weapons that illustrate the history of the Campbell Clan.
The original designs for Inveraray Castle intended visitors to enter by the South. When the structure was completed, the 5thDuke decided to move the entrance to the North side of the structure. This called for a long gallery that originally ran along the entire length of the building to be divided into the Drawing Room and the State Dining Room on either side of a rather modest entrance hall. In preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit, the castle underwent a few modifications including that of the entrance hall to welcome the Royal visitor.
The castle grounds or ‘Policies’, the appropriate Scot term, also warrant a visit for views of Watch Tower, the Doocot or Dovecot, and Frew’s Bridge. Extending almost 180 hectares, the grounds are one of Scotland’s most beautifully designed landscapes. The gardens cover 16 acres of which most are park and woodlands while two are formal lawns and flowerbeds. During the later part of the 19thcentury, custom required distinguished visitors to Inveraray, that included Queen Victoria, William Gladstone, David Livingstone and the Earl of Shaftesbury, to plant trees.
Since the 1780s, the Saloon features Campbell family portraits that allow visitors to trace the family’s history from the Earls of Argyll to the creation of the Dukedom. Two portraits face each other at either end of the room; on one side is Field Marshall the Rt. Hon Henry Seymour-Conway, son-in-law of the 4thDuke of Argyll and on the other Pompeo Batoni of the 8th Duke of Hamilton, step-son to the 5thDuke. The Saloon also includes a grand piano where songwriters Lerner and Loewe composed songs for the musical My Fair Lady during their sojourn in the castle.