Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle lies just to the NE of the model town of Inveraray overlooking Loch Shira and Loch Fyne. It is the seat of the Dukes of Argyll, who head Clan Campbell, one of few clan chiefs who became part of the Scottish establishment.

The original castle was built here in the 15th C. by Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argyll, when he moved his family from Innischonnaill on Loch Awe. This old tower-house was swept away by the rebuilding carried out between 1744 and 1758 by architect Roger Morris for Archibald Campbell (1682 - 1761). The 3rd Duke had only inherited at the age of 61, but was determined to build himself an appropriate pile, although was never to live in it. Morris adapted an earlier grandiose scheme prepared by Sir John Vanbrugh (1664 - 1726) for John Campbell (1678 - 1743), the 2nd Duke. William Adam (1689 - 1748) and eldest son John (1721-92) were also involved, but the remoteness of the site and difficulties such as the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion slowed progress.

In 1770, after almost a decade of inactivity, William Mylne (1734-90) took over and was responsible for moving the entrance. Later, in the 1780s, his brother Robert Mylne (1733 - 1811) was commissioned by the 5th Duke to 'improve' the interiors. The results include the finely-detailed Tapestry Room in the style of a Paris Salon and the Dining Room, which has been described as the finest painted room in Britain.

Dr. Samuel Johnson was uncharacteristically impressed when he visited Inveraray with James Boswell in 1773, enjoying the hospitality of John Campbell, the 5th Duke, and his wife Elizabeth, a celebrated beauty. The castle was drawn in 1815 by William Daniell (1769 - 1837) with the resulting aquatint published in his Voyage Round Great Britain.

A fire destroyed the upper floors in 1877 and the 8th Duke employed Anthony Salvin to undertake the restoration. Inside, Salvin devised the Armoury Hall, which shows off a vast range of weapons, including some from the '45, and externally added conical caps to the corner towers. The Victoria Room relates to Princess Louise, the wife of the 8th Duke. Inveraray was the first house in Scotland to install electricity c.1890. Some renovation took place in the 1950s, but another massive restoration was undertaken by the 12th Duke in the mid-1990s following a further disastrous fire in 1975.

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